West Circle Series Performance at Merkin Hall

College of Music takes popular Vivaldi performance on the road to New York.

The International Chamber Soloists, directed by Dmitri Berlinsky, receive a standing ovation at New York’s Merkin Hall.


A personal invitation to MSU Associate Professor of Violin Dmitri Berlinsky transformed into a resounding cultural experience for MSU students, faculty members and a sold-out audience in one of New York City’s best-known performance halls.

More than 30 students and four faculty members from MSU joined together to bring the College’s popular “Viva Vivaldi” performance to Merkin Concert Hall in late September 2015. The event came about, Berlinsky says, after he had finished a master class at the Lucy Moses School of Music in New York and was asked by the Merkin Hall director to perform with the International Chamber Soloists—a prominent string group founded by Berlinsky—in the Hall’s Tuesday Matinees series. Listen to Live Recording.

“I came back and shared that invitation with my colleagues at MSU,” Berlinsky says. “We all decided how wonderful it would be to offer most of our “Viva Vivaldi” program, which features a choir, a cello concerto, and ‘Four Seasons.’ We thought it would be a great way to showcase and present the talents of our MSU faculty and students at this very important concert venue in New York City.”

Merkin Hall accepted and plans were put in motion for MSU students and faculty to be part of the Hall’s Tuesday Matinee Series. Promoted as a “Vivaldi Extravaganza” the event evolved into the largest Tuesday matinee ever presented at Merkin Concert Hall.

Taking the stage for MSU were Berlinsky, 11 string players comprising the International Chamber Soloists, 19 members of the University Chorale conducted by Director of Choral Programs David Rayl, Professor and Cellist Suren Bagratuni, and Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Harpsichordist Michael Callahan. Tickets sold out far in advance, while the Voice of America broadcast concert highlights and interviews with students and faculty to more than 20 countries.

“These experiences duplicate the world of the professional musician,” says Rayl, also associate dean for graduate studies in music. “They give our students a taste of the professional lives they will soon be living.”

College of Music Dean James Forger agrees that offering national and international performance opportunities are vital to MSU’s ongoing ability to attract, retain and contribute to the success of today’s 21st-century musicians.

“One of our principle objectives is to enable travel and performances outside the boundaries of campus,” Forger says. “It’s exceptionally important to the learning process, and in advancing the reputation of MSU as one of the top 100 universities in the world.”

Viva Vivaldi” was part of the 2014-15 MSU West Circle Series sponsored by Joanne and Bill Church. Financial support for taking Viva Vivaldi” on the road to Merkin Concert Hall was provided by Drs. Lou A. and Roy J. Simon.


Live Recording from Merkin Hall 

Audio courtesy Kaufman Music Center


The College of Music is also seeking to establish an endowment that can help support student travel for performance opportunities beyond the MSU campus. For more information, contact Senior Director Rebecca Surian, College of Music Advancement, at surian@msu.edu or (517) 353-9872.

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