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The Turtle Island Quartet and Cyrus Chestnut will entertain the community on Oct. 4 as part of the Fayetteville State University Fine Arts Series. 

“The Turtle Island Quartet is not your typical string quartet. That is, they perform jazz standards rather than standards from classical composers like Mozart, Haydn or Beethoven. This performance is actually a collaboration between the quartet and jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut. The program they will bring to Fayetteville is called Jelly, Rags & Monk. It  will feature music by Jelly Roll Morton, ragtime and Thelonius Monk. Interestingly, Monk was born in Rocky Mount in 1917,” explained Dr. Earnest Lamb, chair of the Fine Arts Series . 

The Turtle Island Quartet began in 1985, and has been innovating ever since. They bring old European traditions and modern American music together in seamless and unique performances that anyone can enjoy. They’ve also revived the century old, but lost tradition, of string improvisation, normally associated with Jazz music and musicians rather than string instruments. String improvisation is often  identified with more classical tunes. 

Joining the Turtle Island Quartet is Chestnut an acclaimed jazz pianist whose talent, passion, drive and creativity echoes the quartet’s. Their creativity and innovative nature lends itself well to incredible Jazz, a classic American genre still much loved today. 

“It is an art form that keeps evolving and renewing itself. This program is a perfect example — the quintet will create fresh interpretations of early jazz great Jelly Roll Morton’s and bebop giant Monk’s music for a contemporary audience. It’s like everything old is new again,” Lamb says, “I recommend just coming to the concert with an open mind and be prepared to be amazed.”

Adding another dimension to the excitement of the concert, Turtle Island Quartet and Cyrus Chestnut will also contribute to the inspiration and education of other musicians. 

“Cyrus Chestnut and the Turtle Island Quartet will offer master classes for area musicians as part of their appearance in Fayetteville,” says Dr. Lamb. 

This workshop illustrates how the FSU Fine Arts Series is such a great asset to the community. It brings high caliber artists not only for the enjoyment, but also the betterment of the community as a whole. 

This performance is just the beginning of what the Fine Arts Series has to offer this year. Dr. Lamb says, “This fall semester I’m excited about exhibition of works by Latino visual artists that will open in October in Rosenthal Gallery and the appearance of The Baltimore Consort in November.  he Baltimore Consort performs music from the 16th century and earlier. Their appearance in Fayetteville will feature music from Shakespeare’s time and will include excerpts from FSU Theater’s upcoming production of Hamlet, which opens in November. This is an exciting collaboration.”

Turtle Island Quartet and Cyrus Chestnut perform on Oct. 4 at 4 p.m. in Seabrook Auditorium, which is located on the FSU campus at 1200 Murchison Road. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit www.uncfsu.edu/arts or call 672-1571. 


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