Guitarist Jason Vieaux

Guitarist Jason Vieaux has played with 50 orchestras around the country and has made 11 CDs. (Submitted photo / December 5, 2012)

You can make the effort to go to a music school either as a student or at least to attend a concert, but how sweet it is when the music school comes to you.

That's pretty much the case with the "Curtis on Tour" concert program coming to the Candlelight Concert Society series on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m., at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre.

Founded in Philadelphia in 1924, the Curtis Institute of Music is one of the country's most prestigious music schools. The musical talent appearing with "Curtis on Tour" includes current students and faculty members, as well as alumni.

The music school's commitment to touring starts at the top. One of the featured performers at the upcoming Columbia concert, violist Roberto Diaz, is the president of Curtis and also a professor of viola there.


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Having a president who is also an active performer is not unusual at Curtis. Its roster of previous directors who continued their solo careers include Rudolf Serkin, Josef Hofmann, Efrem Zimbalist and Gary Graffman.

He is no stranger to Philadelphia-area audiences, because Diaz is the former principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra; for that matter, he became known in the Washington area when he was principal viola in the National Symphony Orchestra under conductor Mstislav Rostropovich.

Diaz has given recitals around the country including at the Library of Congress, Gardner Museum in Boston, Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Indiana at Bloomington and the Detroit Chamber Music Society. His multiple activities also include releasing CDs and performing the works of contemporary composers.

The second featured performer at the Columbia gig, guitarist Jason Vieaux, has a strong connection to Curtis. He and guitarist David Starobin co-founded the Curtis Institute of Music guitar department in 2011.

But Vieaux ventures out of Philly on a regular basis. Indeed, he has played with 50 orchestras around the country. His New York bookings include the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and also the "Guitar Marathon" at the 92nd Street Y. His 11 CDs include one he did with bandoneonist Julien Labro on which they perform music by composer Astor Piazzolla.

Diaz and Vieaux will be joined at the Columbia program by the Curtis Institute of Music Ensemble, which is made up of students, alumni and faculty.

The program for this concert consists of Astor Piazzolla's "Oblivion," transcribed by Julien Labro, for guitar and strings; Zoltan Kodaly's Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7; a Curtis-commissioned piece, Zhou Tian's "Red Trees, Wrinkled Cliffs," for strings and guitar; and Niccolo Paganini's Quartet for Guitar and Strings in A minor, MS 42.

"Curtis on Tour" performs on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m., at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy., in Columbia. Tickets are $30; $28 for seniors; $12 for students ages 18-24; and free for ages 9-17 when accompanied by a paid adult or senior. Call 410-997-2324 or go to http://www.candlelightconcerts.org.