Presidential Featured Artist series kicks off

A widely traveled, well-known and multi-talented Israeli musician will be featured Tuesday [April 12] at Mississippi State University.

Showcasing the talents of Amir Gwirtzman, the free 7 p.m. performance in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium of Giles Hall is the first in a series of Presidential Featured Artist concerts.

The series is being sponsored by Mark E. and Rhonda Keenum, MSU's president and first lady.

"Our goal is to provide a venue for artists who might not otherwise appear in Starkville, and to broaden opportunities for cultural exchange," Mark Keenum said.

Gwirtzman is proficient in more than two dozen reed instruments. In addition to the saxophone, his musical skills include the clarinet and flute, bagpipes, and a woodwind section full of African, Asian, European, and Middle Eastern instruments.

His campus appearance is being made possible in cooperation with the Hillel student organization, and through a grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to exposing American audiences to Israeli artists.

Gwirtzman's Southern tour is coordinated by the Goldrin/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Life in Jackson. A nonprofit organization serving a 13-state region, the institute provides a variety of rabbinic, educational, cultural, historical, and community engagement programs.

In addition to being both a soloist and member of the Israeli world music band Esta, the Tel Aviv-based Gwirtzman has been featured in venues around the world--including an invited White House performance for Israel's 50th anniversary.

As a soloist, Gwirtzman constructs an ensemble sound using a loop machine to instantly record one instrumental part atop another until the music blends rhythms, melody and harmony.

With Esta, he has shared the stage with Suzanne Vega, Compai Segundo, the Chieftans, Sinead O'Connor, and other artists.

He was educated at the Mannes College of Music in New York, where he also performed with other artists, including Philip Glass, Mino Cinellu and Johnny Almendra.

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