World-Renowned Cello Octet to Perform

The Grace Goudy Distinguished Artists Series will present Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico Monday, Feb. 12, at 7:30 p.m. in Hudson Hall at Willamette University. The octet will perform with conductor Elias Arizcuren and soprano Pilar Jurado.

Based in Amsterdam, Conjunto Ibérico is the only full-time cello octet in the world. The group of cellists has performed Spanish and South American music around the world and has inspired top composers like Philip Glass to write for them, resulting in 60 premieres and 13 CDs.

Soprano Jurado has performed worldwide, drawing praise for her vibrant, charismatic voice and winning international awards, including the 1998 Ojo Crítico Prize, given to the most promising artist of her generation. An award-winning composer, Jurado has written for Conjunto Ibérico.

Cello Octet Conjunto IbécoThe eclectic program will feature pieces by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Philip Glass and others, and combine musical elements from American jazz, Brazilian folk songs, Turkish dances and European classical music. Many works, such as Cristóbal Halffter's "Fandango" for eight cellos, are pieces of stunning instrumental complexity.

"Irresistible sensuality and obsessive rhythm merge into a grand unity; classical and Brazilian influences are perfectly in balance," wrote Amsterdam's Luister magazine. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma said, "This ensemble is a treasure indeed. Elias Arizcuren is a true visionary, who has achieved something absolutely unique with his group." Gramophone magazine wrote, "The group is a model not only of sublime musicality, but of bravery in their choice of repertoire."

Soprano Pilar JuradoWhen Arizcuren's cello students approached him in 1989 with the idea of starting a cello octet, he thought the idea was preposterous. Too respectful to laugh at his enthusiastic students, the bearded Spaniard asked where they would find music for eight cellos. The fledging group began performances with a handful of formal pieces. Today the group has a repertoire of more than 150 pieces, including 65 original works written for them by leading composers, many from Latin America. Arizcuren would like to elevate Spanish and Latin American composers to the same level of audience familiarity as European classical composers.

Concert tickets are $20 for adults and $12 for students and seniors, and are available at the Pentacle Theatre Ticket Office, 145 Liberty St. NE, at (503) 485-4300. There is a service charge. Tickets are also available at the door. For more information contact the Department of Music at (503) 370-6255.