Alfred University News

Alfred University to host glass instrument concert by noted musician Dennis James

Dennis James and the Franklin Armonica
Dennis James and the Franklin Armonica

Alfred University will host a concert by Dennis James, a musician who will play all-glass instruments, the Franklin Armonica and Cristal Bischet, on Thursday, Sept. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Miller Theater.


ALFRED, NY – Alfred University will host a concert by Dennis James, a musician who will play all-glass instruments, the Franklin Armonica and Cristal Bischet, on Thursday, Sept. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Miller Theater.

The concert is being held on the opening day of the Alfred University-hosted Glass Sustainability Conference, which is part of the University’s celebration of 2022: UN International Year of Glass. Alfred University students are also set to perform during the concert, which is free and open to the public.

James is a former lecturer for Glass Music Studies at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. During his tenure there he introduced formal glass music instruments and repertoire study to graduate level academic study (2011-2015). Now retired from active teaching, James pursues various historical music preservation activities and performs extensively throughout the world while restoring antique music instruments and design many important new devices.

Dennis James performing on the Cristal Bischet

Dennis James performing on the Franklin Armonica

He concertizes, records, and adjudicates at festivals and competitions throughout the world, while making frequent appearances at various regional and national conventions of specialty keyboard organizations such as the American Guild of Organists, Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies, and the Organ Historical Society. His performances and recordings, both solo and with numerous ensembles, have included projects with Peter Schickele/PDQ Bach; the Emerson String Quartet; San Francisco Ballet Orchestra; Metropolitan Opera; Tanglewood Music Festival as well as with popular singers Linda Ronstadt, EmmyLou Harris and Dolly Parton and in Hollywood film scorings (e.g. Sony Pictures’ “Minus Man” and “Scream III” with scores by Marco Beltrami).

Also during the concert, student musicians Monica Nowik (flute), Candy Zhou (violin), and Brooklyn Liljehorn (cello), along with Professor of Music Lisa Lantz (viola), will perform Mozart K. 617 Adagio & Rondo for armonica and string quartet. 

The public is invited to visit the Vickers Gardner Glass Center on the second floor of Binns Merrill Hall prior to the concert. There will be live demonstrations of “exploding glass,” as well as other exhibits, including an authentic necklace originally owned by ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamun; glass made by animals; a medical "bio-glass" that the body changes to bone when implanted (and which is the active ingredient in Sensodyne toothpaste); and even a free gift from the Paul Vickers Gardner Glass Center—a glass that changes color on demand, similar to the glass developed at Alfred University to create awards medals for the Lake Placid World University Winter Games.  

The exhibit and demonstrations, which are free and open to the public, will be open from 4:30-6:45 p.m., with "exploding glass” demonstrations at 5 p.m., 5:45 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.