On January 23, 2016, the Kassia Ensemble gave an exceptional premier performance.
The Kassia Ensemble is a newly formed chamber group in the city of Pittsburgh. Comprised exclusively of women, its members also hold positions in the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet, the West Virginia Symphony, the Wheeling Symphony, and the Canton Symphony Orchestras.
The members of the Kassia Ensemble came together in an effort to supersede the gender barrier that is prevalent in classical music. The decision was made to form an all-female ensemble in efforts to create an empowering environment of mutual respect and support, which frees women to collaborate and express themselves at the highest levels of musicianship, artistry, and performance. The Kassia Ensemble promotes female entrepreneurship and leadership in the arts, while simultaneously embracing the performers’ unique experiences as women that deepen and expand their own creative output.
Kassia Ensemble offers unique programming, from the classics to contemporary music, highlighting male and female composers from the past and the present. Their flexible instrumentation allows for refreshing variety in performance. A concert experience may include everything from a harp trio to a large mixed instrumentation ensemble, all in one sitting.
As a result of their own life experiences, the members of the Kassia Ensemble feel a sense of responsibility to use their talents to promote social justice and engage in charitable projects that benefit women.
Kassia was a Byzantine abbess, poet, composer, and hymnographer, whose talent and character serve as inspiration for the ensemble.
Mask of the Red Death
Circling the prey she covets, Death, a horrible and fatale specter, haunts the region…In an atmosphere of distress and terror, where death is abrupt and hideous, the appearance of the Mask of the Red Death, whose diabolic grin denounces joy, is pitiless …
To defy the plague, a young prince and his friends celebrate joyously in a fortified abbey, in which the exits have been carefully blocked.
There the Prince entertains his friends with a masked ball of strange magnificence, and his bizarre taste provides more entertainment with the party: What a decadent tableau is this!
However, each time the strange and ominous voice of the grandfather clock strikes the hours, the gaiety of the dancers seems paralyzed.
Hardly have the echoes of the strikes faded, when a nervous laughter circulates among the guests.
The festivities begin again, but this time with less spirit, affected by the memories of those bell tolls; However, little by little, the music speeds. The couples feverishly whirl, when, suddenly, the Prince gives an abrupt gesture and the musicians stop.
In the shade of the clock, which is heavily striking midnight, there appears, unmoving, a character wrapped in a shroud.
All are seized by a mortal terror.
The Red Death had come like a thief in the night!
The guests fall convulsively one after another as the rooms of this orgy are flooded in a bloody dew.
For short video clips, visit our YouTube page at Chatham University Music Program.