Fredonia music faculty to perform at New York City concert hall

Thursday December 19, 2019Roger Coda
School of Music faculty group
School of Music faculty performing at Merkin Hall include (from left) Barry Crawford, Jessica Tong, Lynne McMurtry, Drs. Eliran Avni and Natasha Farny, and David Rose.

A musical bridge between the western-most corner of New York state and New York City will be created when some of the finest musicians from the Fredonia School of Music present an evening of French chamber music for strings, piano, flute and voice on Jan. 11 at 6 p.m., at the acclaimed Merkin Hall on the Upper West Side.

The Ekstasis Duo, comprised of cellist Dr. Natasha Farny and pianist Dr. Eliran Avni, both of Fredonia’s renowned School of Music, will be joined by fellow Fredonia colleagues – Barry Crawford (flute), Lynne McMurtry (contralto), Jessica Tong (violin) and David Rose (viola) – in “Rêves Extatiques: French Songs and Vocalises.”

The program has been designed to keep the listener fully engaged on many levels, beginning with instrumentation changes that continue throughout the evening, offering creative sound mixes. “From the richness of McMurtry's contralto voice, to the silvery quality of Barry Crawford's flute, to the myriad colors of the Ekstasis Duo and string guests, the sound palette will be continually shifting,” Dr. Farny said.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase the immense talents of our faculty in New York City,” said Melvin Unger, director of the School of Music. “The Merkin audience will experience some of the best of what Fredonia has to offer, including some of the first public performances by two of the School of Music’s newest faculty members, including violinist Jessica Tong and flutist Barry Crawford,” Unger said.

With performers who are GRAMMY-nominated top players in the opera, concerto, symphonic and chamber music realms, the expectation for excellence is very high.

The overall theme, which is dreams, will be a moonlit escape from reality. “Our French program has elements of misty melancholy, flirtatious playfulness and grandiose elegance,” Farny said.

cellist Natasha Farny and pianist Eliran Avni
The Ekstasis Duo

Many of the selections, including a song transcription by Gabriel Fauré called “Après un rêve,” as well as his magnificent Piano Quartet No. 1, are well-known.

For Dr. Avni, pianist of Ekstasis Duo, the Merkin performance will be a homecoming of sorts. Avni is a graduate of The Juilliard School and taught for years at the Lucy Moses School in the Kaufman Music Center before joining the Fredonia School of Music.

The duo recently performed in New York City, sharing one of their first concerts together at the Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church in June 2018.

Merkin Hall’s almost 450 seats are expected to be filled. Admission is free, but tickets are required and are available at the Merkin Hall box office or by calling (212) 501-3330. For more information, go online at

Fredonia Admissions staff will host a brief pre-concert talk devoted to Fredonia music programs for prospective students, their families and other concert-goers in Ann Goodman Hall in the Kaufman Center, beginning at 5 p.m. Fredonia faculty will also be available to greet audience members immediately after the concert.

“Fantastic things are happening at Fredonia and we look forward to bringing that excitement to Merkin Hall in January,” Dr. Unger said.

The concert is a collaboration between Fredonia’s Alumni Office, Office of Admissions, School of Music and Fredonia College Foundation. Funding support has been provided by the Bob and Betty Young Endowment established with the Fredonia College Foundation.

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