EnVaGe

Our Mission

EnVaGe (Ensemble of Variable Geometry) is an organization dedicated to exploring sound and its relationship with other channels of human expression, and to broadening audience engagement with music in an innovative setting. In a designated effort to expand beyond an immediate audience, EnVaGe provides a novel artistic lens for different musical styles and genres for an audience diverse in age, gender, race, status, and level of musical discernment and aesthetic refinement.

In a single musical experience, EnVaGe exposes audiences to repertoire that embrace both current aesthetic trends worldwide, as well as repertoire of the traditional canon.

EnVaGe’s multidisciplinary approach reaches new audiences by bridging the gap between traditional concert expectations and modern ways of experiencing sound.

About

Why EnVaGe

During the 20th and 21st centuries musical training for performers has been increasingly geared towards a virtuosic representation of previous musical styles and experimentation with new languages and techniques.  At the same time, present socio-economical conditions make the congregation of large ensembles and audiences truly difficult.  The lack of performing possibilities for soloists due to the scarce amount of venues and sponsorship causes an isolation of performers in the community.

Usually, there is a strong connection between ensembles and the repertoire they include in their programs. Some ensembles are linked exclusively to the repertoire they represent, creating a limiting symbiosis between style, genre, and performer.  Programming, for the majority of ensembles with set geometry, is restricted to the music created for that specific set of instruments.

This phenomenon creates not only a separation between soloists and ensembles, but also between styles and genres in relationship to the performer forces. This also affects the possibilities for living composers to create music to be performed in the same venues as music from previous centuries. Music repertoire is, therefore, fragmented in its conception and realization.

After a conscientious analysis of the present music scene, a group of performers, arts administrators, composers, and scholars have identified the issues in music making that soloists, ensembles, audiences, and composers currently face.

In response to those issues, EnVaGe attempts to create an amplified ensemble of variable geometry defined by the following characteristics:

Variable geometry. The ensemble is formed by approximately 16 solo performers who will interact in different ensemble settings according to the program needs (i.e. solo, chamber, or orchestral music).  Therefore not every player performs in every piece of any given program. This format also allows several combinations to perform a wide range of repertoire across genres and styles, including contemporary music.

Formed entirely by soloists. Each performer has the necessary level of training, artistry, and experience to perform a wide spectrum of repertoire and genres with the highest musical quality, including solo pieces, chamber music, and orchestral arrangements.

Technological component. EnVaGe is an amplified ensemble of variable geometry that understands the influence of technology in its current aesthetic. The electronic component allows us to program a significant amount of new music, which is largely conceived for electronic and electroacoustic instruments as well as mixed media.

Programming. Due to the flexible nature of the interaction of performing forces provided by variable geometry, the programming possibilities include solo music and chamber repertoire.  In addition, the orchestral repertoire is included through the interpretation of existing arrangements suitable for the format of the ensemble.

In this way, EnVaGe is able to play music from every time period and every style from the history of western music. Since working with living composers is also a priority for this project, the ensemble is making every possible effort to commission new works and develop close relationships with current composers.  The goal when programming and performing is to unify music across genres and styles in one unique music experience.

Ensemble

César Leal, Artistic Director

Dr. César Leal holds a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Kentucky, a Bachelor’s degree in music performance from Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia, and a Master’s in instrumental conducting from Florida International University.  Dr. Leal is currently the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra at The University of the South where he also teaches courses in musicology. Additionally, he serves as a member of both the faculty and the artistic advisory committee of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival.

Leal’s activities as a Conductor and Musicologist often intersect.  In September 2013, in collaboration with the Lexington Ballet, he directed a full-stage production devoted to Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes.  He has led ensembles across the U.S., Panama, Colombia, France, and the Ukraine. He has recorded works by several Latin American composers and has presented scholarly papers in the U.S., Canada, Greece, Japan, Italy, France, England, Peru, Colombia, and Switzerland. An advocate of young musicians, Leal often teaches conducting workshops and acts as a guest clinician with youth orchestras in the U.S. and abroad.

Jessica Usherwood, Managing Director

Soprano Jessica Usherwood is an active performer and soloist. As a recitalist, she has performed works including Messiaen’s Chants de terre et de ciel, William Bolcom’s Let Evening Come, André Previn’s Honey and Rue, and Eric Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs. In addition to her work with EnVaGe, Dr. Usherwood is the soprano and former board member of the Chicago-based group International Chamber Artists (ICA). She premiered an ICA commissioned work by Eric Malmquist entitled If You Travel Far Enough for soprano and chamber ensemble, and has performed on Chicago’s “Live from WFMT” recital series. Usherwood has presented chamber works such as Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Mozart’s Requiem, Britten’s Les Illuminations, Ginastera’s Cantos Del Tucumán, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and Morton Feldman’s Journey To The End Of Night.

Dr. Usherwood currently serves as Assistant Professor of Music at The University of the South in Sewanee, TN. Her research focuses on music entrepreneurship, career development, nonprofit management, and innovative arts programming. Usherwood holds a doctorate in voice performance and literature from the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University with minor concentrations in arts administration and music education. She earned a professional diploma in opera and master’s degree in voice performance and vocal pedagogy from the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University, and a bachelor’s degree from Lee University.

Nikolasa Tejero, Production Director

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Nikolasa Tejero is Associate Professor of Clarinet and Woodwind Area Coordinator at The University of Tennessee–Chattanooga, where she also coaches chamber music and researches Latin American music traditions (in 2014, Scholars’ Press published her book Music and Culture: Folklore in Cuban Clarinet Music). An active performer, lecturer, and clinician, Dr. Tejero has presented at conferences and festivals across four continents, including the International Clarinet Association’s ClarinetFest®, College Music Society, Spoleto USA, International Music Festival, Southeastern Composers League, and the New Dischord Festival, among others.  Celebrated for her engaging programs, she appears regularly as recitalist and soloist.  The Post and Courier, (Charleston, SC) has described her playing as “…[possessing] technical and musical mastery…rhythmic and expressive flavor.” A proponent new music, she has premiered many compositions written for her (including multiple works by Mario Abril, Gary Nash, Tim Hinck, Peter Temko, and Harvey Stokes).  Tejero is a member of Carl Fischer Music’s Trade Winds Recording Ensemble, which records annually the publisher’s newly-released compositions.

Dr. Tejero is an advocate for the arts as a vehicle to effect positive change in our communities. To this end, she has created events like the River City Clarinet Winter Festival, which during its five-year run drew participants to Chattanooga from across the US.  More recently, she has partnered with the Chattanooga Public Library to create Symphonic Tales, a music-and-literacy program for young children, now in its fourth season.

Concerts

Celebrate Diversity Through Music and Poetry

Selected poetry presented by author Earl Braggs

Music:

Song of the Seasons – Valerie Capers
Fantasia – Mario Abril
Five Hebrew Love Songs – Eric Whitacre
Portraits of Langston – Valerie Coleman
O King – Luciano Berio
Sweet Air – David Lang

Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.

Roland Hayes Concert Hall – University of Tennessee Chattanooga

Purchase Tickets

(Free Parking after 5pm)

 

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Play It Forward

Benefit Concert

Saturday, May 12, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.

Andrew C. Roth Grand Reading Room – University of Tennessee Chattanooga

Purchase Tickets

(Free Parking after 5pm)


Chamber Variations

A program inspired by Christian Schubart’s poem Die Forelle (The Trout)

Works by Franz Schubert, Franz Liszt, and Chattanooga composer Tim Hinck (commissioned work, premiere performance)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pre-concert Lecture at 7:00 p.m.

Concert at 7:30 p.m.

Roland Hayes Concert Hall – University of Tennessee Chattanooga

 

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Meet EnVaGe

Symphony No. 4 – Gustav Mahler / Simon

Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

Roland Hayes Concert Hall – University of Tennessee Chattanooga

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