MICHIGAN CITY — The School of American Music (SAM) will present “Viola Virtuosity!” featuring violist and composer Rudolf Haken and violist/violinist Kunito Nishitani for free concerts in New Buffalo and Michigan City.

The first free concert will be held on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. EST, at the Converge Community Church in New Buffalo.

The concert, part of SAM’s Free Family Concert Series, will feature pieces by classical composers as well as a viola/violin duet composed by Haken. The same concert will be held on Sunday, Jan. 26, 3 p.m. CST, at the First Presbyterian Church, Michigan City, as the first concert of the Michigan City Chamber Music Festival’s (MCCMF) Classics, Cookies and Coffee series.

Haken is Professor of Viola at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A virtuoso violist, he has performed in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Haken’s compositions often combine classical and popular themes, and he is frequently a featured musician at MCCMF performances. Nishitani has taught at universities and music schools in the U.S. and Japan. He founded and is music director of the Shakuji International Orchestra and the Kunito International Youth Orchestra, both in Tokyo.

Although both concerts are free, tickets are required for the New Buffalo performance. Tickets are available at SAM’s website, schoolofamericanmusic.com, under the “Tickets & Merchandise” tab.

The performance in New Buffalo is the result of a collaboration between SAM and MCCMF, which is best-known for its acclaimed week-long summer chamber music series.

“Our collaboration with the School of American Music brings our programs and musicians to a fresh audience,” said Nic Orbovich, MCCMF artistic director and co-founder of the festival, now in its 19th year. “We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with SAM.”

“We’re delighted to be working with Nic and MCCMF,” said Garth Taylor, SAM president. “The quality of its programs and performances are topnotch, and we’re proud to bring them to Harbor Country.”

Converge Community Church is located at 601 West Buffalo Street, New Buffalo. The First Presbyterian Church is at 121 West 9th Street, Michigan City.

SAM has scheduled additional MCCMF collaborative programs for February, April and May. Its free family concerts are paid for by a grant from the Pokagon Fund. Now in its seventh year, SAM offers private, one-on-one lessons in musical instruments and voice at its studios in Three Oaks, Michigan. It also operates outreach programs at local schools and sponsors the Harbor Country Singers, a community chorus.

MCCMF programs are underwritten through grants, corporate sponsors, donors and friends of MCCMF. It also sponsors a summer music education program for primary through secondary students.

For more information, visit mccmf.org or school ofamericanmusic.com.

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