CMF Poster

36th Annual Contemporary Music Festival
February 14-16, 2017

Augusta Read Thomas, Guest Composer
Argus Quartet, Guest Ensemble
Schedule of Events:
Monday, February 13
8:00 PM Pre-festival music with Triplepoint Jazz Trio (Pale Fire Brewing Company Taproom, downtown Harrisonburg)
Tuesday, February 14
5:00 PM Argus Quartet in Recital (Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art)
8:00 PM Concert I: music of Thomas, Messiaen, Guinivan, Haney, Farkas (Concert Hall)
Wednesday, February 15
9:00 AM Augusta Read Thomas Masterclass (Music Building 204)
12:30 PM Argus Quartet Masterclass (Music Building 148)
5:00 PM Student Composers Recital, featuring winners of the JMU Young Composers Competition (Recital Hall)
8:00 PM Concert II: music of Thomas, Guinivan, featuring Triplepoint, JMU Symphony Orchestra, Madison Singers, JMU Brass Band (Concert Hall)
Thursday, February 16
11:00 AM Augusta Read Thomas Visiting Scholar Lecture: “The Art of Inspiration” (Music Building 142)
8:00 PM Concert III: music of Thomas, Cooper, Laurello, and Muhly, featuring Argus Quartet (Concert Hall)
All events except Concerts I, II, and III are free and open to the public. Ticketing information may be found online at or by calling the box office at 540.568.7000.
The festival is made possible by the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Music, and by a grant from the JMU Visiting Scholars Program.

Read Thomas

Described by The New Yorker as “a true virtuoso composer,” Augusta Read Thomas is a Grammy Award winner whose work embodies “unbridled passion and fierce poetry,” according to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2009, Thomas was inducted into the Academy, considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the United States. During her time as Chicago Symphony’s longest-serving resident composer (1997-2006), Thomas premiered nine commissioned orchestral works, including Astral Canticle, which was one of two finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Music. JMU faculty, ensembles and students will present Thomas’ music and other contemporary works in three main concerts during the festival.

Argus Quartet

Argus Quartet is dedicated to reinvigorating the audience-performer relationship through innovative concerts and diverse repertoire – connecting with and building up a community of engaged listeners is at the core of the quartet’s mission.

Formed in the summer of 2013, Argus is receiving invitations from concert series throughout the United States and abroad. Recent performances include appearances at Carnegie Hall, Laguna Beach Live!, Encinitas’ Music By The Sea, the Hear Now Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, the Birdfoot Festival, and the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam. During the 2016-17 season, the Argus Quartet will serve as the Ernst Stiefel Quartet in Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts.

Argus recently began an appointment as the Yale School of Music’s Fellowship Quartet in Residence and is the first ensemble to be mentored by the Brentano String Quartet in that capacity. Next season, Argus will appear at Carnegie Hall, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and the Oneppo Chamber Series in programs with the Brentano Quartet and clarinetist David Shifrin.

The Argus Quartet believes that today’s ensembles must honor the storied chamber music traditions of our past while forging a new path forward. In that spirit, their repertoire includes not just staples of the chamber music canon, but also a large number of pieces by living composers. The quartet was recently awarded a commissioning grant from Chamber Music America for a new work by composer and GRAMMY nominee, Eric Guinivan.

Beyond its commitment to performing chamber music at the highest level, Argus aims to engage audiences in unique ways. Last fall marked the inaugural season of Argus in LA, a concert series that reimagines many aspects of the traditional concert experience.  These handcrafted presentations have something for everyone: eclectic programming, world premieres, and exciting guest artists.

Education and outreach are an important part of the Argus Quartet’s mission. In addition to their teaching responsibilities at Yale, the quartet has worked with students through residencies and masterclasses at James Madison University, Rockport Music, the Milken School, the Young Musicians Foundation, California State University Long Beach, and the Birdfoot Festival.

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