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Press Releases

River Raisin Ragtime Revue Announces New Music Director

October 15, 2020 | By Aileen Rohwer
Executive Director

RIVER RAISIN RAGTIME REVUE ANNOUNCES NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR

Founder and Former Music Director William Pemberton Steps Down – Orchestra Member & Cellist, Kelsee Vandervall, Appointed Director – R4 Expanding to Chicago –


TECUMSEH, MI CHICAGO, IL 10/15/2020
The founder and music director of the River Raisin Ragtime Revue (aka R4) has stepped down in August 2020 after leading the group for 18 years. William Pemberton founded the River Raisin Ragtime Revue in 2002.


“It’s time for organizations like ours to lead the way towards positive change. There are others much more qualified to share the story of this wonderful music and history...someone who will lead us to an even stronger future. It will be my honor to serve the new director in any capacity I can.”
– William Pemberton


Concluding a month-long search for a qualified candidate, the organization appointed Kelsee Vandervall, an accomplished cellist and active member of the orchestra. Kelsee has performed with R4 since 2016 and has performed nationally as a freelancer, including at the 2020 Grammy Awards, with artists Michael Bublé, J. Cole, Lizzo and more (?kelseevandervall.com?). With the new director based in Chicago, IL, the organization plans to establish a second office there to further their mission in the Midwest and beyond.
During these difficult times, R4 continues to create content for its audiences with virtual performances. Hosting a nearly 20-week long “Respite with Ragtime” livestream series this past summer on Facebook, R4 amassed over 4,000 views with guest artists and orchestra members performing from their homes. Their performances even included premieres such as the namesake rag composed by William Bolcom in dedication to former music director William Pemberton, the “River Raisin Rag (view it on ?R4's YouTube Channel?).”

Although R4 has not been able to perform live since 2019, they are creating buzz with the success of their last recording project, ?Blaze of Glory: The Trombone in Early American Popular Music?. Recorded at Central Michigan University and featuring trombonist Dr. Robert Lindahl, the cd is currently receiving 5 star national reviews. ?Fanfare Magazine states, “The whole project shows how keenly focused performance of this repertoire can be revelatory...Superbly informative notes round off a class release...a fine recording” and ?The Syncopated Times? writes “Someone should slip in a [Grammy] nomination for this one.” R4’s cds can be purchased at ?https://www.ragtimeband.org/r4-store/


The River Raisin Ragtime Revue has produced 8 recordings in its eighteen-year history and performed ragtime music for countless audiences in their vintage style.


The ?River Raisin Ragtime Revue? (R4) is a professional theater orchestra dedicated to educating and entertaining via the performance, preservation and restoration of significant American music. R4 highlights the development of our country’s original popular musical style – ragtime. Utilizing a meticulously researched and engaging narrative, R4 transports the audience to the cultural and social conditions of turn-of-the-century America. Special emphasis is given to the contributions of African American composers and the obstacles they overcame in attempting to gain acceptance of this unique, original art form.
###
Media Contact: Kelsee Vandervall Phone: 630-715-5910
Email: director@r4ragtime.org


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