Learning to Listen

The Coleman Sisters Learning to Listen Series was established in memory of Elizabeth Coleman Mooney ’48 and in honor of Susan Norton Coleman ’45, who wanted future generations of students to derive the same great pleasure from music that they did. The Series features virtuosic musicians in a salon-like atmosphere with tasty refreshments and informative conversation.

Learning to Listen events are free and open to the public. No reservations or tickets are required. Refreshments will be served

2016-2017 Events

Thanks to all who participated in the 2016-2017 Learning to Listen series! Stay tuned for news on the 2017-2018 events.


Learning to Listen 2016-2017
The Jasper String Quartet
Shostakovich's 110th Birthday Celebration

Saturday, December 10, 7pm
Ely Room, Wyndham, Bryn Mawr College

Admission Free. Birthday Cake Served.

The Jasper String Quartet unlocks the beauty, intensity and construction of Dmitri Shostakovich's 3rd and 8th string quartets to commemorate his 110th birthday.

About The Jasper String Quartet

In 2008, the Jaspers swept through the competition circuit, winning the Grand Prize and the Audience Prize in the Plowman Chamber Music Competition, the Grand Prize at the Coleman Competition, First Prize at Chamber Music Yellow Springs, and the Silver Medal at the 2008 and 2009 Fischoff Chamber Music Competitions. They were also the first ensemble honored with Yale School of Music’s Horatio Parker Memorial Prize, an award established in 1945 and selected by the faculty for “best fulfilling… lofty musical ideals." In 2010, they joined the roster of Astral Artists after winning their national auditions.

The Quartet was the 2010-12 Ensemble-in-Residence at Oberlin Conservatory and, in conjunction with Astral Artists, was awarded a 2012 Chamber Music America grant through its Residency Partnership Program for work in Philadelphia schools. From 2009-2011, the Jaspers were the Ernst C. Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and Arts (Katonah, NY). They were the first ensemble to be invited for a second year as such.

Current Projects

The Quartet rounds out their commission tour of Aaron Jay Kernis’ 3rd String Quartet "River" in 2016-17 with performances at Wigmore Hall and at Classic Chamber Concerts in Florida. The Quartet's Carnegie Hall Recital of the work last season received a a glowing review in The Strad.

The Quartet will release their latest album with Sono Luminus in early 2017 featuring quartets by Donnacha Dennehy, Annie Gosfield, Judd Greenstein, Ted Hearne, David Lang, Missy Mazzoli, and Caroline Shaw.

In addition, this season they will launch their inaugural season of Jasper Chamber Concerts, a series in Philadelphia devoted to world class performances of masterworks from around the world and Philadelphia.

The Jaspers perform pieces emotionally significant to its members ranging from Haydn and Beethoven through Berg, Ligeti, and living composers. They have commissioned string quartets from some of today’s best composers, including Aaron Jay Kernis, Andrew Norman, Nicholas Omiccioli, Conrad Tao and Annie Gosfield. Critics and audiences commend the Jasper String Quartet’s “programming savvy” (clevelandclassical.com) and they have performed throughout the United States and in Canada, England, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway and Panama.

The Jasper String Quartet has brought well over 200 outreach programs into schools and enjoys educational work of all types. In their Melba and Orville Roleffson Residency at the Banff Centre they embarked on "guerrilla chamber music," performing concerts in unusual settings around Alberta, Canada. Currently, the quartet works closely with Philadelphia’s Astral Artists to bring outreach activities to schools.

Formed at Oberlin Conservatory, the Jaspers began pursuing a professional career in 2006 while studying with James Dunham, Norman Fischer, and Kenneth Goldsmith as Rice University’s Graduate Quartet-in-Residence. In 2008, the quartet continued its training with the Tokyo String Quartet as Yale University's Graduate Quartet-in-Residence.

The Jasper String Quartet is named after Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada and is represented exclusively by Dispeker Artists. For more information, please visit www.jasperquartet.com or www.facebook.com/jasperstringquartet.

Image of Music Notes

What Makes Music Expressive?

Learning to Listen 2016-2017
What Makes Music Expressive?
with John Andrew Bailey

NEW DATE: Sunday, March 26, 7pm
Music Room, Goodhart Hall, Bryn Mawr College

Free Admission, Refreshments will be served

To be "expressive" is "to effectively convey thought or feeling." While nineteenth and twentieth century discussions of musical expression tend to be theoretical, philosophical, abstract, and vague, this program takes a different approach. Using insights from composers, performers, and theorists from the 1600s to the present, as well as recent work by cognitive scientists, we'll explore concrete, practical ways that musicians make music expressive. 

Program includes:

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sonata in A minor, K. 310
  • Johann Jakob Froberger, Suite in C major, FbWV 612
  • Robert Schumann, Sehr innig und nicht zu rasch from Kreisleriana, Op. 16
  • Johann Sebastian Bach, Prelude and Fugue in D major from Das Wohltemperirte Clavier, Book 2
  • Domenico Scarlatti, Sonata in B minor, K 87
  • Frédéric Chopin, Nocturne in Eb major, Op. 9, No. 2
  • Felix Mendelssohn, Sanft und mit Empfindung (No. 1 from Seven Characteristics pieces, Op. 7)
  • Claude Debussy, Prélude and Menuet from Suite bergamasque
Photo of John Bailey

About John Andrew Bailey

John Andrew Bailey is music director of the Bryn Mawr Renaissance Choir. He also serves as organist at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, and accompanies the Chorale and Chamber Singers of Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges. 

As a harpsichordist and fortepianist, he has appeared in recitals with soprano Julianne Baird, and as a concerto soloist with baroque orchestra Tempesta di Mare and the Philadelphia Bach Festival series. Bailey holds degrees in harpsichord from the Eastman School of Music, where his principal teachers were David Craighead and Arthur Haas. 

Bailey also trained as a musicologist, and has taught music and humanities courses at Bryn Mawr College, Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, and Montclair State University. He is a long-time faculty member of the Amherst Early Music Festival. He has presented his research on the music of Guillaume de Machaut at international conferences, and his co-authored essay on the performance practice of fifteenth-century chansons appears in Binchois Studies from Oxford University Press.


Photo Credit: János Sutyák

Learning to Listen 2016-2017

Saturday, April 1, 7pm
Ely Room, Wyndham Alumnae House, Bryn Mawr College

Learning to Listen events are free and open to the public.
No reservations or tickets are required.
Refreshments will be served.

Gifted performers from Curtis focus on shorter pieces in a variety of styles, from J.S. Bach to a brand new commission from composer Reena Esmail.

Group members:
Anthony Limoncelli, Trumpet
Caleb Wiebe, Trumpet
Eric Huckins, Horn
Oliver Barrett, Trombone
Aaron Albert, Bass Trombone

Excerpts from J.S. Bach's Art of Fugue
Victor Ewald: Brass Quintet No. 3 Op. 7
Reena Esmail: Tuttarana


The Brass Project, formed by “six superb Curtis brass players” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), is a flexible brass ensemble that strives to expand the repertoire for chamber brass, to record and distribute new works, and to engage with a wide community through outreach and educational programs.

In collaboration with Curtis composer Nick DiBerardino, The Brass Project commissioned 32 composers (such as Aaron Jay Kernis, Paul Lansky, Sean Friar, Dan Trueman, and Michael-Thomas Foumai) to write for their 2015/2016 inaugural season. A primary goal of the ensemble is to perform mostly original repertoire specifically commissioned or arranged for or by the ensemble.

The Brass Project is an ensemble-in-residence at Music from Angel Fire in New Mexico and has also been featured by Santa Fe Pro Musica. Passionate advocates of music education, The Brass Project has been in residence at South Philadelphia High School, as well as performed education concerts and worked with students in northern New Mexico, including in Angel Fire, Cimarron, Eagle Nest, Las Vegas, Raton, and Taos.

Read individual artist bios on The Brass Project web page.


"Reena Esmail creates richly melodic lines that imbue her music with the heights of lyricism balanced by winning textural clarity."

- American Academy of Arts and Letters

Profile on Intel.com:

Reena Esmail wants to give classical music an image makeover. Often thought of as appealing only to a certain sect of sophisticated individuals, the 32-year-old Julliard- and Yale-trained composer wants to make classical music appealing to everyone, especially young people. “I feel like I’m part of a revolution to make classical music as relevant as possible,” Esmail said. “Classical music should be accessible to anyone who wants to hear it because there are these really deep, wonderful, emotional things embedded in it—it allows you to feel things.”

Read the full article here.


Curtis Institute LogoThe Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians for careers as performing artists on the highest professional level. One of the world's leading conservatories, Curtis is highly selective, with an enrollment of about 165. In this intimate environment, students receive personalized attention from a celebrated faculty. A busy schedule of performances is at the heart of Curtis's distinctive "learn by doing" approach, which has produced an impressive number of notable artists since the school's founding in Philadelphia in 1924.

The Coleman Sisters Learning to Listen Series was established in memory of Elizabeth Coleman Mooney ’48 and in honor of Susan Norton Coleman ’45, who wanted future generations of students to derive the same great pleasure from music that they did. The Series features virtuosic musicians in a salon-like atmosphere with tasty refreshments and informative conversation.


Get Connected

Stay tuned for updates on this year's programming! Join the Arts at Bryn Mawr mailing list for email announcements about this series and the full range of offerings.

Learning to Listen Program Contact:
Lisa Kraus

Coordinator, Performing Arts Series
Bryn Mawr College
For Event Info:
Arts Office
Bryn Mawr College