Emory Report
April 3, 2006
Volume 58, Number 25


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April 3, 2006
Ransom's busy schedule brings rich musical fare to Emory

by nancy condon

In the music world, we say that performance is 90 percent planning and 10 percent playing,” said Will Ransom, Mary Emerson Professor of Piano, Emory’s director of piano studies and founder and artistic director of the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta (ECMSA).

With a schedule as full as his, Ransom knows the importance of careful planning. While the Emory community may know he’s been the man behind ECMSA’s rich programming for the past 13 years, they may not be so familiar with his numerous off-campus activities.

Ransom has just returned from a 10-concert tour with the Vega String Quartet in Paris and the German cities of Aachen, Auhaus and Bielfeld, and he’s looking ahead to many more performances. Upcoming concerts on campus include “Virtuoso Concerti,” an ECMSA Emerson Series concert (April 9, 4 p.m., Schwartz Center; $20, $15 discount category, students free), and an ECMSA noontime series performance with violinist Martin Chalifour, principal concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and one-time Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concertmaster (April 7, noon, free, Carlos Museum).

Ransom is also organizing ECMSA’s Emory Prize concert, at which a leading young pianist from Japan’s 2005 Kamisaibara Pianists Camp—in which Ransom has taught since 1998—makes her debut U.S. performance (May 5, noon, free, Carlos Museum). For more information about the Emory concerts, call 404-727-5050 or go to www.arts.emory.edu.

Later this month, Ransom travels to Dallas to record Stephen Paulus’ “Concerto for Piano and Winds,” which the Minnesota composer wrote especially for Ransom and which the pianist premiered at the Schwartz Center in February with the Emory Wind Ensemble, conducted by Scott Stewart.

In Texas, Ransom will record the concerto with the wind ensemble from Southern Methodist University (conducted by Jack Delaney), which co-commissioned the work with Emory. In June, he performs with violinist Regina Carter at the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, and in July he goes to the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival in North Carolina, where he has been artistic director since 2000.

In 1985, Ransom joined the Emory faculty to help build piano studies and has been an integral part of the department’s growth ever since.

“The position at Emory was very attractive not only because it was in a major city, but also because it was in a school that was at the beginning of artistic growth,” Ransom said.

When he came, the music department had only 35 music majors; it boasts 119 today. “We also had absolutely no facilities. We were housed in the basement of the Humanities Building, which would flood every year, and teaching in closets and bathrooms,” he added.

Ransom takes pride in the music department today.

“Most of our students are double majors and not planning to become professional musicians. There are so many schools of music turning out performers with degrees year after year who have no jobs. What we do is to provide a fundamental appreciation for music and the performance of music.”