Bookmark and Share

Common Tone . Uncommon Performance

Common Tone connects young artists and the community through creative musical experiences in your neighborhood. Our events abandon traditional concert ritual, celebrate curiosity, explore the senses and encourage your participation.

A new program from the School of Music and The Clarice Smith Performing Center, our Spring 2014 Common Tone events take place at the Hyattsville Busboys and Poets.

Common Tone is sponsored in part by a generous gift from Michael Ross Goldman, ’09.


2014-2015 Concerts

October 5, 2014 . 7PM
invoke strikes again!

Nick Montopoli, violin
Zach Matteson, violin
Karl Mitze, viola
Geoff Manyin, cello

Free. Full menu and beverage service available. 

invoke’s dance-inspired program features Three Awkward Dances, a new work by the group’s own Nick Montopoli, and Peter Schickele's "American Dreams", his first string quartet inspired by the sounds of American folk music and dance. The evening will also include a taste of original music from invoke's upcoming debut album release.

invoke is a band that looks to the present for inspiration. Infusing elements of Bluegrass, Folk, and Rock, invoke jams on fretted instruments like mandolin, banjo and dulcimer as well as the standard quartet complement of violins, viola and cello. Believing that the string quartet remains one of the most maneuverable ensembles, invoke aims to direct the efforts of artists across disciplines to reinvent the string quartet as a relevant 21st-century medium.


November 16, 2014 . 7PM
Excelsa Quartet: Intimate Letters
Laura Colgate, violin
Audrey Wright, violin
Valentina Shohdy, viola
Kacy Clopton, cello

Free. Full menu and beverage service available. 


Experience how the intimacy of love letters led to one of the most sensuously heartbreaking and manic compositions ever written for string quartet with Excelsa. Czech composer Leoš Janáček and the object of his affection, Kamila Stösslová, carried on a complex relationship through volumes of written correspondence. These eventually became the inspiration for his String Quartet No. 2, "Intimate Letters". Excelsa will explore the strange yet beautiful world that is Janáček 's music, paralleling it with fragments from the more than 700 letters highlighting the narrative of his love for Kamila.

February 22, 2015 . 7PM
Marian McLaughlin and Ethan Foote: Land, Air and Sea

Free. Full menu and beverage service available. 

Marian McLaughlin is a songwriter, singer and guitarist pushing the boundaries of folk music. Weaving together imaginative lyrics, intricate classical guitar work and rhapsodic delivery, she creates songs of breathtaking scope and exquisite detail. McLaughlin’s recording debut, Dérive, brought in bassist, composer and arranger Ethan Foote, whose work has encompassed numerous idioms and writes arrangements of McLaughlin’s songs for string ensemble. As McLaughlin prepares to release a second album, her musical partnership with Foote continues with Land, Air and Sea, a setting of McLaughlin's newer songs for an expanded chamber ensemble. Their work together represents an ambitious and original endeavor in the meeting of experimental folk-rock, chamber music and lyrical vision.


March 29, 2015 . 7PM
Chelsey Green

Having shared the stage with artists including Roberta Flack, MC Lyte, Denyce Graves, J.Cole, Questlove and Black Thought of The Roots, emerging artist Chelsey Green brings the unmatched tone, richness and vibrancy of the violin and viola to audiences in a whole new way.

A student of classical technique and repertoire for over 20 years, Chelsey Green incorporates principles of standard classical music performance into the performance of original tunes and re-identified popular favorites in genres across the board including Soul, Gospel, R&B, Jazz, Funk, Rock, and more!

Named an Artist-in-Residence at The Music Center at Strathmore in 2010, Ms. Green is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland College Park.

Ms. Green’s varied performance resume includes performances at the Late Show with David Letterman, Theater at Madison Square Garden, Saint Lucia Jazz Festival, White House Correspondence Dinner Reception, BET Honors Dinner, Essence Music Festival, The Howard Theatre, The Music Center at Strathmore, Blues Alley, The John F. Kennedy Center and more!

April 19, 2015 . 7PM TBD


Previous Concerts

Common Tone 
The National Orchestral Institute and Festival
Tuesday, June 24 . 7PM
FREE. Full menu and beverage service available

Mingle with some of the nation's finest young musicians at a casual concert featuring chamber ensembles from the National Orchestral Institute and Festival. Highlights of this multi-genre program include Irving Fine's Partita for wind quintet, Prokofiev's String Quartet No. 2, and Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze for string quartet! 
Now celebrating its 27th season, the National Orchestral Institute and Festival has helped nurture an entire generation of American orchestral musicians. Each year, a national audition tour selects outstanding young artists for this month-long event, a laboratory for shaping the future of chamber and orchestral performance. More info


Throw Caution to the Wind
District5 Woodwind Quintet
Laura Kaufman, flute
Alison Lowell, oboe
Nina Elhassan, clarinet
David Young, bassoon
Laura Brisson, horn

Sunday, April 6 . 7PM
FREE . Full menu and beverage service available

There are demands in music performance that create tension: for instance, the demand to play with impeccable technical precision, while simultaneously staying relaxed, fully expressive and unrestrained. In Throw Caution to the Wind, District5 puts their inhibitions aside and tackles these tensions by performing some of the most colorful and virtuosic work for wind quintet, sharing what it's like, after countless hours of preparation, to simply let loose and perform. 

District5 is a dynamic wind quintet that connects with audiences by sharing their stories both as an ensemble and as individuals. With a contagious enthusiasm for their art, District5 is committed to performing wind quintet repertoire rarely heard in the United States, and strives to bring creativity and authenticity to their programs. District5 on Facebook.


invoke live
Nick Montopoli, violin
Zach Matteson, violin
Karl Mitze, viola
Geoffrey Manyin, cello
Sunday, March 9 . 7PM
FREE . Full menu and beverage service available.

For one night only, invoke joins forces with the expert mixologists at Busboys and Poets to elevate two common sensory experiences into a unique fusion that is quite familiar to the members of the ensemble: American music alongside American beverages. Featuring music by living composers, this event includes Danny Clay’s Toy Piano Music, Dan Visconti's Ramshackle Songs, Philip Glass’ mesmerizing String Quartet No. 5 and a wild world premiere from local composer Geoff Sheil.

invoke is an ensemble that looks to the present for inspiration with the conviction that the string quartet remains one of the most versatile ensembles. invoke aims to direct the efforts of artists across disciplines to reinvent the string quartet for the 21st century. invoke on Facebook.