The Wisdom Tree Ensemble will make their world premiere appearance at the Old Town Center for the Arts on Saturday, April 23 at 7 p.m.
The concert will be dedicated to global and local environmental initiatives in honor of Earth Day, and locally to celebrate the Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival. This event is sponsored by Mount Hope Foods in Cottonwood.
The Wisdom Tree Ensemble includes harp guitarist William Eaton, violinists Allen Ames and Carrie Caruso, violist VerRona Grandil, cellist Melanie Yarger, double bassist Felix Sainz Jr. and flautist Claudia Tulip.
The seven musicians are soloists in their own right, have performed with many diverse musical groups across Arizona, and come together to express their collective and shared experience in human emotion and nature-inspired music. The concert will feature chamber pieces from around the world as well as improvised songs and passages that tap into the depths of classical, folk, rock, jazz and new age music. The fusion of these styles will also be found in the songs of the Beatles, Rolling Stones and other iconic musical groups.
Together, the Wisdom Tree Ensemble has accumulated over 280 years of experience playing musical instruments made from trees around the world, which still record over 2000 more years of growth and “aging” experience. . William Eaton, who has been building stringed instruments for over 50 years, said: “Our instruments put us in close contact with the forests of the world. We now know that trees have been communicating with each other for millions of years through extensive underground mycorrhizal networks. Listening to nature and communicating through music further extends our search for meaning and our desire to share inspirations and ideas.
About the musicians
Claudia Tulip is an accomplished and innovative flautist, singer, composer and educator. Originally studying with master flautist Marcel Moyse, she hails from New York City, where her love of jazz and improvisation took root. In addition to her BA in music, she pursued post-baccalaureate work in Orff, Dalcroze and Jazz Band Directing. Claudia has performed with Ani Williams, Sharon Burch, William Eaton Ensemble, Fitzhugh Jenkins and many more. She is a music education consultant to Arizona charter schools, and in her studio “Under One Common Sky” guides students through the many facets of musical expression.
Carrie Caruso, a native of Detroit, Michigan, has performed across the United States, as well as internationally, and has opened for countless notable musicians and celebrities, including Keith Urban, Donna Summer , John Fogerty, Seal, Howie Mandel, Halle Berry, The Kongos and many more. In addition to live performances, she has recorded numerous national commercial spots, including Catholics Come Home (aired for President Barack Obama at the White House with Pope Benedict), Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), and Grand Canyon University for n’ to name a few. Carrie performs as a principal violinist with the internationally acclaimed electric string quartet, Urban Electra, in addition to her solo performances.
Cellist Melanie Yarger is classically trained and has held principal appointments with the New York Symphony, Celebrity Symphony Orchestra, Koscuiszko Opera Orchestra and many others. She has performed internationally in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France and the Caribbean as well as in the United States and Canada. She has shared the stage with international artists such as The Eagles, Game of Thrones International Tour, Andrea Boccelli, Clay Aiken and Mannheim Steamroller, to name a few, and has opened for John Fogerty, Halle Berry, Seal , Howie Mandel and others. . Melanie is a founding member of Arizona’s only electric rock string quartet, Urban Electra, and has also worked extensively in the recording studio.
VerRona Grandil earned her BM in Music Education and her MM in Viola Performance at Arizona State University. She taught orchestra at Taylor Jr. High in Mesa and led the East Valley Youth Symphony concert band for several years. She was also Principal Viola with the Symphony of the Southwest for 5 years and has performed with the Arizona Opera and Phoenix Opera Orchestras as well as many other bands in the Phoenix Valley. She currently owns a large private studio in Gilbert where she lives with her husband and 4 children.
William Eaton is a four-time Grammy nominee and Canyon Records artist, recognized as one of the world’s great designers and builders of unique guitars and stringed instruments. Eaton has written and performed with the Nebraska Chamber Orchestra, New West Chamber Orchestra, Amadeaus Trio, R. Carlos Nakai, Edgar Meyer and many others. He is currently principal of the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, a guitar building school in Phoenix, Arizona. William is also one of the founders of Sustainable Arizona.
Allen Ames (violin) is known for his recorded works with his own Lyra ensemble, William Eaton Ensemble and gypsy jazz bands in Arizona and the Phoenix area. He has performed with orchestras and chamber ensembles including the Arizona Opera and Ballet Orchestras, New West Chamber Orchestra, Phoenix String Quartet and many others. He has performed twice at the Sedona Chamber Music Festival and is a regular on the Phoenix jazz scene. Allen also appeared with Dave Brubeck in his Fiesta de la Posada Christmas Cantata.
Felix Sainz Jr. (bass) is one of Arizona’s most sought-after performance and session bassists, with over 35 years of experience in jazz, Latin and pop bands across the state. Felix, a resident of Phoenix, AZ, is also an artist, singer and classical guitarist with his own recently released album, “The Nearness of You”. Felix can be heard regularly supporting big names in jazz in Phoenix, such as Beth Lederman, Diana Lee, Dennis Rowland, Carmela Ramirez, and regular appearances at Phoenix’s premier nationally acclaimed jazz venue, The Nash.
Tickets are available online at www.showtix4u.com or in Cottonwood at Mount Hope Foods and Mysterium and in Sedona you can find tickets at the Mary D. Fisher Theater. For ticket prices and more information on these and other upcoming events, visit OldTownCenter.org or call Elena Bullard at 928-634-0940.