Kenneth Hamrick returns

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Selma native Kenneth Hamrick will be a featured musician in the 60th anniversary performance of Handel’s Messiah sponsored in honor of the late Kay Haley by the Selma Civic Chorus Dec. 2 at First Presbyterian Church.

Hailed as a &8220;fine conductor of difficult and contrasting music by The New York Times, by BBC Radio (London) for &8220;his command of such extraordinary musical gifts&8221; and as &8220;an important musical visionary&8221; by the NHK-Network Tokyo in a television documentary about his career, Hamrick is a conductor with a range of repertories from Baroque to Contemporary and an award winning harpsichordist, pianist and organist.

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Currently residing in New York City, he is the founder and director of the vocal and instrumental ensemble, American Virtuosi. Recent productions include a national tour with Broadway tap dance legend Savion Glover in Classical Savion

and a partnership with the Jose’ Limon Dance Company honoring their 60th anniversary season, designated one of America’s &8220;Cultural Treasures&8221; by the National Endowment for the Arts.

This spring in Elebash Hall Fifth Avenue at the City University of New York Graduate Center he will produce and conduct the world premiere of Alice Shields’ opera &8220;Criseyde.&8221;

Kenneth Hamrick grew up in Selma, where he studied music with Joe Merle Kennedy, Sarah Crisman Cater, Irene Miller and Kay Haley and took top prizes in numerous piano and organ festivals and competitions throughout the southeast United States. From an early age he was active in many Selma church music programs and with the Civic Chorale. At the age of 15, he accompanied a performance of Handel’s Messiah at Church Street United Methodist Church at the invitation of their revered organist Ben Feigen.

During his sophomore year at Morgan Academy he accepted early admission and graduated with High Honors from Huntingdon College, where he studied with Harald Rohlig and Jeanne Shaffer. At the University of Montevallo He earned graduate degrees and was named to Pi Kappa Lambda, national honor music society.

He also studied organ and harpsichord with Betty Louise Lumby and choral and orchestral conducting with Hugh Thomas at Birmingham-Southern College and Robert Shaw of the Atlanta Symphony.

Relocating to Rochester, New York he accepted a teaching assistantship and received a scholarship to study organ with David Craighead for his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Eastman School of Music. He continued post-doctoral courses at Oberlin Conservatory, Indiana University’s Early Music Institute and Harvard University.

As a Distinguished Visiting Specialist in Organ, Harpsichord and Baroque Chamber

Music at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University of New Jersey, he teaches

honors students from the Franz Liszt State Academy of Music, Budapest, Hungary.

His other recent projects include those at Yale and Princeton. And a recent recording with members of the New York Philharmonic on the DELOS label made it to the top of most major charts.

Hamrick, in a recent conversation, spoke of his upcoming visit to Selma.