BY RUTH RICE
One of the most popular contemporary violinists in modern music is bringing her energetic, exhilarating show to the area.
Winter Jazz featuring Regina Carter will be presented at 7 p.m. March 6 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on Pitt-Johns-town’s campus in Richland Township.
Proceeds from the performance benefit the Blackington Endowment, which provides funding that enables the arts center to present artists throughout the season.
Michael Bodolosky, executive director of the arts center, explained that the Blackington Endowment was started in the ’90s in honor of former Pitt-Johnstown president Frank H. Blackington III.
“The endowment has brought shows like ‘Nunsense’ with Sally Struthers, ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ ’ with Ruben Studdard and ‘Hairspray’ this year,” Bodolosky said.
“It provides an opportunity to bring world- class entertainment at affordable prices.”
Proceeds from Winter Jazz will go to the endowment, which has been spearheaded by Mark Pasquerilla since its inception.
Winter Jazz has brought Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis and Arturo Sandoval to the arts center.
“The program this year is being made available in part by a grant from the Mid- Atlantic Arts Foundation, a part of the National Endowment for the Arts,” Bodolosky said.
Bodolosky, who has seen Carter perform, described her as phenomenal.
“She’s doing new material from ‘Reverse Thread,’ but I hope she will do something from the standard jazz literature,” he added.
Carter, a virtuoso violinist who is on a mission to make a meaningful musical contribution on her own terms, will perform selections from her new CD “Reverse Thread,” which will be released in May, for her performance at Pasquerilla.
“Reverse Thread” is a collection of infectious African folk melodies in a beautiful, contemporary interpretation as only Carter can provide.
The album features new material from Carter and some of her earlier repertoire as well as music from the African Diaspora, including music from Mali and Senegal.
The program also will include traditional pieces from Jews living in Uganda and a piece by Ayub Ogada from the movie “The Constant Gardener.”
Carter’s virtuosity on the violin allows her to blend jazz with classical and world music in a refreshing way.
Critics have said that Carter is almost single-handedly reviving interest in the violin as a jazz instrument.
Her music has been described as listenable, intelligent and breathtakingly daring, with her violin soothing, rasping, hissing, blending and trembling.
In her hometown of Detroit, Carter attended master classes with violin giants Itzak Perlman and Yehudi Menuhin.
Her experiences as a member of the Detroit Civic Symphony Orchestra and the pop-funk group, Brainstorm, gave her the ability to play with a range of artists.
Carter performed with jazz luminaries such as Ray Brown, Billy Taylor, Marian McPartland, Kenny Barron, Wynton Marsalis, Randy Weston and Cassandra Wilson.
She also performed with pop icons Dolly Parton and Billy Joel.
In December 2001, Carter made history in Genoa, Italy, when she became the first jazz musician and first black to play the legendary Guarneri del Gesu violin owned by classical music virtuoso and composer Nicolo Paganini.
Less than a year later, she returned to Genoa to use the treasured violin to record her classical-infused album, “Paganini: After a Dream.”
Carter and her touring band have performed with the Atlanta Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra.
In a special engagement with the Boston Pops, featuring classical virtuoso Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Celtic star Eileen Ivers, the three violinists debuted “Interplay,” a song written especially for them by Chris Brubeck, Dave Brubeck’s son.
In 2006, Carter won the MacArthur Fellowship, which is given to individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits.
She recorded with vocalists Patti Labelle, Aretha Frank-lin, Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill, Cassandra Wilson and Carmen Lundy as well as trombonist Steve Turre, pianists Kenny Barron and Danilo Perez, guitarist Rodney Jones, saxophonist James Carter, the Quartet Indigo and the String Trio of New York.
Carter’s musical influences range from rhythm and blues to East Indian to classical.
In college, she took a double major in classical music and African-American music at the New England Conservatory and Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in performance.
Carter’s self-titled debut CD was released in 1995, with “Something for Grace” following in 1997 and “Rhythms of the Heart” in 1999.
“Motor City Moments,” a tribute to the musical legacy of her hometown of Detroit, was released in 2000.
“Freefall,” a collaboration with pianist Kenny Barron, was released in 2001 and nominated for a Grammy Award in 2002.
“Paganini: After a Dream” was released in 2003, and “I’ll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey,” a homage to her late mother with music from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, was released in 2006.
All things strings
What: Winter Jazz featuring Regina Carter.
When: 7 p.m. March 6.
Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Pitt-Johnstown campus, Richland Township.
Tickets: $35 for adults and $10 for students.
Information: 269-7200 or (800) 846-2787.