Sarasota Concert Association presents
The Great Performers Series brings the world’s most renowned classical musicians to perform in Sarasota during a six-concert season, January through March, at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and Riverview Performing Arts Center.
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JAN 15, 2020 | 7:30 PM | Van Wezel PAH
Behzod Abduraimov, piano
• Chopin — 24 Preludes, Op. 28
• Debussy — Children’s Corner
• Mussorgsky — Pictures at an Exhibition
“With prodigious technique and rhapsodic flair, Mr. Abduraimov dispatched the work’s challenges, including burst upon burst of arm-blurring octaves, with eerie command.” The New York Times
Behzod Abduraimov’s performance is sponsored by John Frueh
Click here for a PDF of the concert program, or on the tabs below
“With prodigious technique and rhapsodic flair, Mr. Abduraimov dispatched the work’s challenges, including burst upon burst of arm-blurring octaves, with eerie command.” (The New York Times)
Behzod Abduraimov performs with leading orchestras world-wide, collaborating with prestigious conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Lorenzo Viotti, James Gaffigan, Jakub Hrůša and Santtu-Matias Rouvali.
In 2019/20 he returns to Carnegie Hall for two performances: his second Stern Auditorium recital, with a program of Chopin, Debussy, and Mussorgsky; and performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 with the Münchner Philharmoniker under Valery Gergiev following their concerts in Munich. He also serves as Artist-in-Residence with the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, appearing twice under Lorenzo Viotti and in recital.
Other highlights this season include Orchestre National de France, Philharmonia Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Cincinnati, and Sydney Symphonies. He will perform in concerto and recital at the Alte Oper Frankfurt and further recitals include the International Piano Series in London, the Meesterpianisten Series at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, and the Melbourne Recital Centre, among others.
Behzod and cellist Truls Mørk have developed a formidable duo, with tours in Europe and the US. In 2020 they present Beethoven, Franck, and Prokofiev at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris and at Kings Place, London, and in autumn 2019 they recorded together. Behzod has also established a relationship with the English Chamber Orchestra, whom he directed in Beethoven and Mozart from the piano in 2019. In 2019/20 he will direct Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.2 with the Camerata RCO as part of the 20th anniversary season of the İş Sanat Concert Hall, Istanbul.
Recent engagements have included with Orchestre de Paris as part of their Rachmaninov weekend, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and the Cleveland Orchestra. In July 2018 he returned to the Hollywood Bowl with a spectacular performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel. Summer 2019 included re-invitations to Verbier, Rheingau, La Roque Antheron, and Lucerne Festivals. Last season Behzod was presented in recital by Chicago Symphony presents, 92nd Street Y, Vancouver Recital Series, Tippet Rise Arts Center, Kölner Philharmonie, and Festspielhaus Baden-Baden.
His 2012 debut CD of Liszt, Saint-Saëns, and Prokofiev for Decca won the Choc de Classica and Diapason Découverte and his first concerto disc for the label featured Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.3 and Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No.1. A film of his BBC Proms debut in 2016 with the Münchner Philharmoniker under Gergiev was released as a DVD in 2018.
Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 1990, Behzod began the piano aged five as a pupil of Tamara Popovich at Uspensky State Central Lyceum in Tashkent. In 2009 he won First Prize at the London International Piano Competition with Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.3. He studied with Stanislav Ioudenitch at the International Center for Music at Park University, Missouri, where he is Artist-in-Residence.
Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) 24 Preludes, Op. 28; ca. 40′
no. 1. Agitato
no. 2. Lento
no. 3. Vivace
no. 4. Largo
no. 5. Molto allegro
no. 6. Lento assai
no. 7. Andantino
no. 8. Molto agitato
no. 9. Largo
no. 10. Molto allegro
no. 11. Vivace
no. 12. Presto
no. 13. Lento
no. 14. Allegro
no. 15. Sostenuto
no. 16. Presto con fuoco
no. 17. Allegretto
no. 18. Molto allegro
no. 19. Vivaceno
no. 20. Largo
no. 21. Cantabile
no. 22. Molto agitato
no. 23. Moderato
no. 24. Allegro appassionato
Claude Debussy (1862-1918) Children’s Corner; ca. 32′
Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum
Serenade for the Doll
The Snow is Dancing
The Little Shepherd
Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition; ca. 34′
1. The Gnome, Promenade (2nd)
2. The Old Castle, Promenade (3rd)
3. Tuileries, (Children’s Quarrel after Games)
4. Cattle, Promenade (4th)
5. Ballet of Unhatched Chicks
6. Two Polish Jews, One Rich, the Other Poor: “Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle”
7. Limoges. The Market (The Great News)
8. Catacombs (Roman Tomb)—With the Dead in a Dead Language
9. The Hut on Hen’s Legs (Baba Yaga)
10. The Bogatyr Gates (In the Capital in Kiev)
Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) 24 Preludes, Op. 28; ca. 40′
The term “prelude” is one of the most slippery terms in classical music, denoting a loosely structured, sometimes improvised work originally for keyboard or lute. Over the course of four centuries, the prelude morphed considerably in form and function. Moreover, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, many pieces fitting this general description were also called by other names (toccata, intonazione, ricercare, etc.). By the seventeenth century in Germany, the praeludium developed into an important part of the Lutheran church service, occurring at the beginning and end of the service or to attract the listener’s attention and define the mode or tonality of a following concerted work, cantata, or chorale. By the time of Dietrich Buxtehude, the teacher and idol of the young Johann Sebastian Bach, the prelude had morphed into an elaborate, often multi-sectional keyboard work, either self-standing or preparatory to the more tightly structured fugue.
In Italy, France and Spain, where prelude-type pieces were called by other titles, the genre was decidedly more secular in nature. By the eighteenth century in northern Europe, preludes also began to detach from the church service and specifically from the keyboard, becoming self-sufficient short compositions or introductions to dance suites (as in Bach’s unaccompanied cello suites). While many composers left behind individual preludes, they often collected them in sets of one for each mode or major and minor tonality, the most famous collection being Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, in which each prelude is paired with a corresponding fugue.
Of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century preludes, Chopin’s 24 Preludes, Op. 28, is probably the best-known set. The individual pieces were composed between 1836 and 1839, and published simultaneously in Leipzig, Paris, and London. The collection contains compositions of varying lengths and moods, arranged by key signature (C major, A minor, G major, E minor…) according to the circle of fifths, rather than chromatically by key, as were Bach’s (C major, C minor, C-sharp major, C-sharp minor…). Again, unlike Bach’s set, the preludes vary in length, although they are all relatively short; the longest, in D-flat major (89 measures) and the shortest (12 measures) in C minor. In this regard, they resemble some of Beethoven’s Op. 116 and Op. 129 sets of Bagatelles. In their brevity, some of the preludes present only a flash of emotional insight, a quality that made Chopin’s friend and admirer, Robert Schumann, to view them as “…sketches, beginnings of études, or, so to speak, ruins, individual eagle pinions, all disorder and wild confusions.” The “sketchiness” of Schumann’s comment can often refer to the absence of repeats or the B section of ternary (ABA) song forms, features present in the longer preludes.
In 1835, Chopin abandoned his performing career, choosing to devote his attention to composing and teaching piano. There is evidence that, like Bach, Chopin used the preludes as teaching tools – although the set is in no way ordered by level of difficulty (as is Bartók’s Mikrokosmos). As teaching works, each prelude focuses on a different pianistic technique, but more importantly, on an aspect of musical expression. Although he was a performer and composer for one of Western music’s most percussive instruments, Chopin regarded the human voice, as exemplified in the bel canto style, as the ultimate means of musical expression. It is, therefore, no surprise to find in nearly all the preludes a readily singable melody, usually accompanied by an ostinato figure that accentuates the expressive quality of the melodic line as in No. 15 in D-flat major. In the most technically difficult preludes, such as No. 19 in E-flat major and No. 24 in D minor, much of the technical difficulty comes in bringing out the melody in a single hand that must also participate in the accompaniment. One of Chopin’s stylistic characteristics that is seldom stressed is his occasional use of startling dissonances and harmonic progressions, as in the A-minor Prelude. The variety of moods and emotions evoked in these 24 brief pieces is astounding, and it is on these qualities that the performer and listener should concentrate.
Claude Debussy (1862-1918) Children’s Corner; ca. 32′
Like most composers, Claude Debussy battled continuously to make ends meet and satisfy his publisher. He churned out songs, piano pieces, and orchestral works for public consumption, but the Children’s Corner (original title in English) was a private, intimate piano work, written in 1906-08 for his little daughter Claude-Emma, known as Chouchou. He dedicated it to her with “…her father’s loving apologies for what follows.” Debussy was influenced by Modest Mussorgsky’s song cycle The Nursery, responding to its intuitive art: “It is like the art of an inquiring savage, discovering music step by step, dictated only by his feelings.”
While some of the titles are childish, the music is not child’s play. The first piece, “Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum” (Steps to Mount Parnassus) refers humorously to a volume of piano finger exercises of Muzio Clementi. The second, “Jimbo’s Lullaby,” describes the gentle elephant of children’s stories. The third, “Serenade for the Doll,” was the first piece to be written and refers to the first doll in his daughter’s crib; the strumming piano figure imitates a guitar or lute.
“The Snow is Dancing,” in the style of a Baroque toccata, captures in short order the intensifying of the storm. “The Little Shepherd” starts with the imitation of a free, unaccompanied tune on a shepherd’s pipe, gradually acquiring complex harmonies, and finally returning to its simple form.
Best known of the set is the last, “Golliwog’s Cakewalk,” one of the first harbingers of the jazz mania that was to overtake Europe. The little motivic refrain that introduces the second part of the piece is a parody on the opening phrase of Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. There was intense anti-Wagner sentiment in France, partly on aesthetic grounds but also political ones, the bitter Franco-Prussian War of 1870 (which France lost ignominiously). French composers loved to write takeoffs on Wagner, especially to popular dances; the most famous are a quadrille based on Leitmotifs from the Ring composed jointly by Gabriel Fauré and André Messager, and Emmanuel Chabrier’s Souvenir de Bayreuth, based on Tristan. While Wagner’s unresolved chord progression stretched the limits of tonal harmony, Debussy was expanding the repertory of modal melodies beyond the standard major and minor, a factor quite apparent in this sophisticated children’s piece.
Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition; ca. 34′
Modest Mussorgsky, one of the wild cards of nineteenth century Russian music, left very few completed scores by the time of his early death from alcoholism. Of his meager output, the operas Boris Godunov and the uncompleted Khovanshchina, some songs, the short orchestral score St. John’s Night on Bald Mountain, and the piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition have stood the test of time. Although Boris and St. John’s Night are most often heard in Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov’s “corrected” form, they now are considered among the highlights of Russian music. Mussorgsky was a member of the “Mighty Five” – together with Mily Balakirev, Aleksander Borodin, Cesar Cui and Rimsky-Korsakov – whose goal was to further the pan-Slavic movement and Russian nationalist music.
In July 1873 Mussorgsky’s close friend, the young architect and painter Victor Hartmann, died suddenly. The following year a posthumous showing of his drawings, paintings, and designs was presented in St. Petersburg. The fantastic and bizarre elements of much of Hartmann’s work fascinated Mussorgsky, who set out to create a musical memorial to his friend in the form of a suite of piano pieces. He depicted his impressions of ten of the pictures, portraying himself as the observer in the Promenade that introduces the work and serves as connector between the tableaux.
A surprising aspect of the suite is the nearly complete absence of any subjective emotion in a work directly inspired by a great personal loss. Mussorgsky gives us his personal impressions of Hartmann’s art, but rarely of his feelings about Hartmann’s death; the Catacombs and De mortuis tableaux are more spooky than mournful. Even in the Promenade, strolling from picture to picture, he portrays a cool, objective viewer rather than a grieving friend.
One of the most striking features of the Pictures is the vivid tone painting that enables the listener to actually visualize each work of art. And it’s a good thing, too, since the originals of some of Hartmann’s works upon which the suite is based are lost – or perhaps never existed.
Most listeners are familiar with the orchestrated version by Maurice Ravel, but several other composers and conductors tried their hand at orchestral arrangements. And although the work has rightfully inspired orchestration, the original version for piano offers a fascinating re-evaluation.
In addition to the “Promenade,” the pictures that inspired the ten tableaux of the suite are:
1. The Gnome – a sketch of a little gnome on crooked legs, said to be a design for a nutcracker.
2. Il vecchio castello (The Old Castle)– a medieval castle before which a troubadour sings a love song.
3. Tuileries (Children’s Quarrel after Games) – children quarreling and nurses shouting on a path in the Tuileries garden in Paris.
4. Cattle – A Polish oxcart with enormous wheels is heard in the distance as it approaches, passes, and gradually disappears again.
5. Ballet of Unhatched Chicks – a design for a scene from the ballet, Trilby, the music imitates the pecking of the birds.
6. Two Polish Jews, One Rich, the Other Poor (“Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle”) – No picture by Hartmann corresponding to this tableau has ever been found. The subtitle “Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle” is a late addition, not by Mussorgsky.
7. Limoges. The Market (The Great News) – French women haggling violently in the market.
8. Catacombs (Roman Tomb) – A sudden, grim shift of mood transports the listener to a picture of the catacombs in Paris illuminated by lantern light with the figure of Hartmann himself in the shadows.
8a. “Cum mortuis in lingua mortua” (“With the Dead in a Dead Language”) – the Promenade, in the minor mode, constitutes the second part of Catacombs.
9. The Hut on Hen’s Legs – Baba Yaga, the hideous old crone of Russian folklore, who lives in a hut supported on fowl legs and flies around in an iron mortar, was Hartmann’s design for the face of a clock.
10. The Bogatyr Gates (In the Capital in Kiev) – Hartmann’s design for a memorial gate in Kiev in honor of Tsar Alexander II. The design is in the massive Old Russian style, topped by a cupola in the shape of the helmet of the old Slavonic warriors. It is worth noting here that Mussorgsky was forced to write the sound of the bells in two huge successive chords, whereas all orchestrators of the work have been able to use the multiple instruments to sound as a single toll of the bell.
Program notes by Joseph & Elizabeth Kahn
Wordpros@mindspring.com I www.wordprosmusic.com
JAN 29, 2020 | 7:30 PM | Van Wezel PAH
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Vadim Gluzman, violin
• Tchaikovsky/Montgomery — The Seasons, Op. 37a
This piece marks the world premiere arrangement for chamber orchestra by composer Jessie Montgomery and violinist/composer Jannina Norpoth
• Vivaldi — The Four Seasons
“Orpheus demonstrated its conductorless ability to render the complex scores with taut precision and feverish excitement.” The New York Times
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra creates extraordinary musical experiences that enrich lives and empower individuals through collaboration, innovation, and a passion for artistic excellence. Orpheus strives to be the world’s premier chamber orchestra by performing music at the highest level, challenging artistic boundaries, inspiring the public to think and work with new perspectives, and building a broad and active audience in New York City and around the world.
The grammy winning group has a recording catalogue with more than 70 albums.
Through a partnership between Orpheus and CaringKind, New York City’s leading expert in dementia care, With Music in Mind brings the transformative power of music to people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and their caregivers. CaringKind provides in-depth Understanding Dementia for Professionals of Cultural Institutions training designed specifically for Orpheus staff and musicians, who then lead an intimate performance and conversation with audiences impacted by these challenging diseases.
Universally recognized among today’s top performing artists, Vadim Gluzman brings to life the glorious violinistic tradition of the 19th and 20th centuries. Gluzman’s wide repertoire embraces new music and his performances are heard around the world through live broadcasts and a striking catalog of award-winning recordings exclusively for the BIS label. The Israeli violinist serves as Distinguished Artist in Residence at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and teaches at the Keshet Eilon International Music Center in Israel. He performs on the legendary 1690 ‘ex-Leopold Auer’ Stradivari on extended loan to him through the generosity of the Stradivari Society of Chicago.
FEB 12, 2020 | 7:30 PM | Van Wezel PAH
Chicago Symphony Orchestra | Riccardo Muti, Zell Music Director
• Prokofiev — Selections from Romeo and Juliet
• Prokofiev — Symphony No. 3, Op. 44 (“The Fiery Angel”)
Click here to read “Riccardo Muti, the Maestro among maestros: 50 years and counting” by Phillip Huscher.
Now celebrating its 128th season, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is consistently hailed as one of the world’s leading orchestras. In September 2010, renowned Italian conductor Riccardo Muti became its tenth music director. His vision for the Orchestra—to deepen its engagement with the Chicago community, to nurture its legacy while supporting a new generation of musicians, and to collaborate with visionary artists—signals a new era for the institution.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s distinguished history began in 1889, when Theodore Thomas, then the leading conductor in America and a recognized music pioneer, was invited by Chicago businessman Charles Norman Fay to establish a symphony orchestra here. Thomas’s aim to establish a permanent orchestra with performance capabilities of the highest quality was realized at the first concerts in October 1891. Thomas served as music director until his death in 1905—just three weeks after the dedication of Orchestra Hall, the Orchestra’s permanent home designed by Daniel Burnham.
Frederick Stock, recruited by Thomas to the viola section in 1895, became assistant conductor in 1899, and succeeded the Orchestra’s founder. His tenure lasted thirty-seven years, from 1905 to 1942—the longest of the Orchestra’s music directors. Dynamic and innovative, the Stock years saw the founding of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the first training orchestra in the United States affiliated with a major symphony orchestra, in 1919. He also established youth auditions, organized the first subscription concerts especially for children, and began a series of popular concerts.
Since 1916, recording has been a significant part of the Orchestra’s activities. Current releases on CSO Resound, the Orchestra’s independent recording label, include the Grammy Award–winning release of Verdi’s Requiem led by Riccardo Muti. Recordings by the CSO have earned sixty-two Grammy awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. https://csosoundsandstories.org/category/cso-resound-recordings/
Born in Naples, Riccardo Muti studied piano under Vincenzo Vitale at the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella, graduating with distinction. He subsequently received a diploma in composition and conducting from the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan, where he studied under the guidance of Bruno Bettinelli and Antonino Votto.
He first came to the attention of critics and the public in 1967, when he won the Guido Cantelli Conducting Competition – by unanimous vote of the jury – in Milan. In 1968, he became principal conductor of the “Maggio Musicale Fiorentino,” a position he held until 1980. In 1971 Muti was invited by Herbert von Karajan to conduct at the Salzburg Festival, the first of many occasions, which led in 2010 to a celebration of forty years of artistic collaboration with the Austrian festival. During the 1970s, he was chief conductor of London’s Philharmonia Orchestra (1972 to 1982) succeeding Otto Klemperer. From 1980 to 1992, he inherited the position of Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra from Eugene Ormandy.
From 1986 to 2005, he was Music Director of the Teatro alla Scala and during his tenure he directed major projects such as the Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy and the Wagner Ring Cycle. Alongside the classics of the repertoire, he brought many rarely performed and neglected works to light, including pieces from the Neapolitan school of the Eighteenth Century, as well as operas by Gluck, Cherubini, and Spontini. Poulenc’s Les dialogues des Carmélites earned Muti the prestigious Abbiati Prize from the critics.
The long period spent as Music Director of Teatro alla Scala culminated on December 7th, 2004, in the triumphant re-opening of the restored opera house with Antonio Salieri’s Europa riconosciuta.
He made incredible contributions to Verdi’s repertoire, conducting Ernani, Nabucco, I Vespri Siciliani, La Traviata, Attila, Don Carlos, Falstaff, Rigoletto, Macbeth, La Forza del Destino, Il Trovatore, Otello, Aida, Un ballo in Maschera, I Due Foscari, I Masnadieri. His tenure as music director was the longest of any in La Scala history.
Over the course of his extraordinary career, Riccardo Muti has conducted the most important orchestras in the world: from the Berlin Philharmonic to the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, from the New York Philharmonic to the Orchestre National de France, as well as the Vienna Philharmonic, an orchestra to which he is linked by particularly close and important ties, and with which he has appeared at the Salzburg Festival since 1971.
When Muti was invited to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic’s 150th anniversary concert, he was presented with the Golden Ring by the orchestra, a special sign of esteem and affection, awarded only to a few select conductors. After 1993, 1997, 2000 and 2004, in 2018 Riccardo Muti conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in the New Year’s Concert for the fifth time. For the recording of this concert, in August 2018 he was awarded the Double Platinum on the occasion of his concerts with the same orchestra at the Salzburg Festival.
In April 2003, the French national radio channel, France Musique, broadcast a “Journée Riccardo Muti” consisting of 14 hours of his operatic and symphonic recordings made with all the orchestras he has conducted throughout his career. On December 14th of the same year, he conducted the long-awaited opening concert of the newly renovated “La Fenice” Opera House in Venice. Radio France broadcast another “Riccardo Muti Day” on May 17th, 2018, when he conducted a concert at Auditorium de la Maison de la Radio.
In 2004, Muti founded the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra, which is composed of young musicians selected by an international committee from more than 600 instrumentalists from all over Italy.
Muti’s recording activities, already significant in the Seventies, range from symphonic music and opera to contemporary compositions. His recordings have won many prizes. The recording label dealing with his recordings is RMMusic (www.riccardomutimusic.com).
Riccardo Muti’s social and civic conscience as an artist is demonstrated by his concerts performed in places symbolizing our troubled past and contemporary history, which he has conducted as part of “Le vie dell’Amicizia” (The Roads of Friendship) project, produced by Ravenna Festival. Concerts were given in Sarajevo (1997), Beirut (1998), Jerusalem (1999), Moscow (2000), Yerevan and Istanbul (2001), New York (2002), Cairo (2003), Damascus (2004), El Djem, Tunisia (2005), Meknes (2006), Concert for Lebanon (2007), Mazara del Vallo (2008), Sarajevo (2009), Trieste (2010) Nairobi (2011), Ravenna (2012), Mirandola (2013) Redipuglia (2104), Otranto (2015), Tokyo (2016), Tehran (2017) and Kiev (2018) with La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, the Orchestra and Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the “Musicians of Europe United” – a group made up of the top players of Europe’s major orchestras – and most recently with Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini.
Muti has received innumerable international honors over the course of his career. He is Cavaliere di Gran Croce of the Italian Republic and a recipient of the German Verdienstkreuz, he received the decoration of Officer of the Legion of Honor from French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a private ceremony held at Élysée Palace. He was made an honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in Britain. The Salzburg Mozarteum awarded him its silver medal for his contribution to Mozart’s music, and in Vienna was elected an honorary member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna Hofmusikkapelle and Vienna State Opera.
Russian President Putin awarded him the Order of Friendship, and the State of Israel has honored him with the Wolf Prize for the arts. In October 2018, Muti received the prestigious Praemium Imperiale for Music of the Japan Arts Association in Tokyo. He has received more than 20 honorary degrees from the most important universities of the world.
He conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in the opening concert for the celebrations of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth in Salzburg at the Grosses Festspielhaus. In 2018 the continuous collaboration between Riccardo Muti and the Vienna Philharmonic reached 48 years. During the 2007 Whitsun Festival in Salzburg, Muti began a five-year project with the Cherubini Orchestra dedicated to the rediscovery and valorization of the operatic and sacred musical heritage of the Neapolitan School of the 18th Century.
In September 2010, Riccardo Muti became Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and was named 2010 Musician of the Year by Musical America. At the 53rd annual awards ceremony in February 2011, he was awarded two Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance for his live recording of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. In March 2011, Riccardo Muti was selected as the recipient of the coveted Birgit Nilsson Prize, presented in a ceremony on October 13th at the Royal Opera in Stockholm in the presence of H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf and H.M. Queen Silvia. In April 2011, he received the Opera News Award in New York and in May 2011 he was awarded Spain’s prestigious Prince of Asturias Prize for the Arts. The award was presented the following autumn in Oviedo at a grand ceremony chaired by H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias. In July 2011 he was named honorary member of the Vienna Philharmonic and in August 2011 honorary director for life at the Rome Opera.
In May 2012, he was awarded the highest Papal honor: the Knight of the Grand Cross First Class of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope Benedict XVIt
FEB 25, 2020 | 7:30 PM | Riverview PAC
The Knights & Gil Shaham, Violin
• Colin Jacobsen — New opening work based on the “Kreutzer” story
• Beethoven — “Kreutzer Concerto” arr. for Solo Violin and Chamber Orchestra
• Janáček — “Kreutzer” String Quartet
• Brahms — Hungarian Dances
“The performances, in every case spirited and vital, survived amplification and the elements surprisingly well….” — The New York Times
“Gil Shaham was a magnificent soloist in the concerto, bringing vigor and clarity to the outer movements and a certain clipped lyricism to the paired instrumental arias that serve as a double centerpiece.” — San Francisco Chronicle
The Knights are a collective of adventurous musicians, dedicated to transforming the orchestral experience and eliminating barriers between audiences and music. Driven by an open-minded spirit of camaraderie and exploration, they inspire listeners with vibrant programs that encompass their roots in the classical tradition and passion for artistic discovery. The orchestra has been proud to tour and record with renowned soloists including Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Béla Fleck, and Gil Shaham, and has performed at such prestigious institutions as Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, and the Vienna Musikverein. Through adventurous programming, unbridled energy, and a collaborative music-making process, The Knights bring classical music to life in a way that surprises and inspires both new and longtime listeners.
The Knights evolved from late-night chamber music reading parties with friends at the home of violinist Colin Jacobsen and cellist Eric Jacobsen. The Jacobsen brothers, who are also founding members of the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, serve as artistic directors of The Knights, with Eric Jacobsen as conductor. The Knights are committed to creating unusual and adventurous partnerships across disciplines; they perform in traditional concert halls as well as parks, plazas, and bars, all in an effort to reach listeners of all backgrounds and invite them into their music-making. Since incorporating in 2007, the orchestra has toured consistently across the United States and Europe.
The Knights have had an exciting 2017-18 season, a highlight of which was a U.S. tour with genre-defying Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital and Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh. Tour repertoire came from around the world, with arrangements and transcriptions by the artists themselves, and featured the world premiere of Azmeh’s Triple Concerto for Clarinet, Mandolin, Violin and Orchestra. The Knights will complete their second Home Season in Brooklyn, in partnership with the downtown venue BRIC, presenting family concerts, evening performances, and a characteristically wide-ranging roster of guest artists. Programs include a collaboration with Puerto-Rican composer Angelica Negrón on her drag opera, a night of German lieder with Katja Herbers, as well as an exploration of the pervasive influence of Eastern European folk music. The Knights’ 2017 summer season encompassed a world premiere by composer Judd Greenstein and an East Coast premiere by Vijay Iyer; their tenth consecutive appearance in Central Park’s Naumburg Orchestral Concerts series; their fourth year at Tanglewood, a performance at the Ravinia Festival with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham; and a collaboration with choreographer John Heginbotham at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.
Gil Shaham is one of the foremost violinists of our time; his flawless technique combined with his inimitable warmth and generosity of spirit has solidified his renown as an American master. The Grammy Award-winner, also named Musical America’s “Instrumentalist of the Year,” is sought after throughout the world for concerto appearances with leading orchestras and conductors, and regularly gives recitals and appears with ensembles on the world’s great concert stages and at the most prestigious festivals.
Harris Theater Chicago
MAR 12, 2020 | 7:30 PM | Van Wezel PAH
Pacifica Quartet & Orion Weiss, Piano
Orion Weiss, piano, joins violinists Simin Ganatra and Austin Hartman, violist Mark Halloway, and cellist Brandon Vamos.
• Beethoven — Quartet in F major, Op. 18, no. 1
• Ligeti — Quartet No. 1, “Metamorphoses Nocturnes”
• Dvořák — Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81
“The Pacifica Quartet…is nothing short of phenomenal….” The Telegraph
“Few pianists have the prodigious speed, stamina, and musicality of Orion Weiss.” San Francisco Classical Voice.
The Pacifica Quartet
Recognized for its virtuosity, exuberant performance style, and often-daring repertory choices, over the past twenty-five years the Pacifica Quartet has achieved international recognition as one of the finest chamber ensembles performing today. Named the quartet-in-residence at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in March 2012, the Pacifica was previously the quartet-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and received a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance. In 2017, the Pacifica Quartet was appointed to lead the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies at the Aspen Music Festival and School.
Formed in 1994, the Pacifica Quartet quickly won chamber music’s top competitions, including the 1998 Naumburg Chamber Music Award. In 2002 the ensemble was honored with Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award and the appointment to Lincoln Center’s The Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two), and in 2006 was awarded a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. Also in 2006 the Quartet was featured on the cover of Gramophone and heralded as one of “five new quartets you should know about,” the only American quartet to make the list. And in 2009, the Quartet was named “Ensemble of the Year” by Musical America.
The Pacifica Quartet has carved a niche for itself as the preeminent interpreter of string quartet cycles, harnessing the group’s singular focus and incredible stamina to portray each composer’s evolution, often over the course of just a few days. Having given highly acclaimed performances of the complete Carter cycle in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Houston; the Mendelssohn cycle in Napa, Australia, New York, and Pittsburgh; and the Beethoven cycle in New York, Denver, St. Paul, Chicago, Napa, and Tokyo (in an unprecedented presentation of five concerts in three days at Suntory Hall), the Quartet presented the monumental Shostakovich cycle in Chicago, New York, Montreal and at London’s Wigmore Hall. The Quartet has been widely praised for these cycles, with critics calling the concerts “brilliant,” “astonishing,” “gripping,” and “breathtaking.” In the 2018-19 season, the Pacifica Quartet continues its exploration of the Beethoven cycle at the National Arts Centre (Ottawa) and for the Portland Friends of Chamber Music and the Shostakovich cycle for Chamber Music San Francisco and Skidmore College.
Simin Ganatra, violin
Simin Ganatra has won wide recognition for her performances throughout the United States and abroad. She has been described by critics as an “excellent and unique violinist” and heralded for “creating a miraculous sense of flow and otherworldly beauty.” She has performed in such prestigious venues as Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, the Corcoran Gallery, and Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. Collaborations include performances with Michael Tree, Toby Hoffman, and the St. Lawrence Quartet. She is the recipient of several awards and prizes, including the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, top prizes at the Concert Artists Guild Competition and the Coleman Chamber Music Competition, and first prizes in the Union League of Chicago Competition, the Pasadena Instrumental Competition, the Minnesota Sinfonia Competition, and the Schubert Club Competition. Originally from Los Angeles, Ganatra studied with Idell Low, Robert Lipsett, and most recently Roland and Almita Vamos. She is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, where she was concertmaster of the Oberlin Conservatory Orchestra and recipient of the Louis Kaufman Prize for outstanding performance in chamber music. She is currently on the faculty of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music and the University of Chicago.
Austin Hartman, violin
Austin Hartman has distinguished himself as a chamber musician and soloist with performances throughout the United States and abroad. He has appeared to acclaim in prestigious venues throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, including Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Baroque Art Hall in Seoul. As a soloist, Austin was the winner of the Stulberg International Competition and made two solo appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has collaborated with acclaimed artists including members of the Cleveland, Shanghai, Tokyo, Vermeer, and Juilliard Quartets as well as Orli Shaham and Mark Kosower. As the first violinist of the Biava Quartet, an ensemble of which he was a founding member, he was the winner of the Naumburg Award that also captured top prizes at the Premio Borciani and London International Competitions. He has recorded for the Albany, Naxos, and Cedille labels, and has been heard on London’s BBC Radio 3. Austin has served on the faculty of numerous festivals including Brevard Music Center, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Innsbrook, Heifetz International Music Institutes, and the Luzerne Music Center. Prior to joining the Pacifica Quartet, Austin served as the Assistant Professor of Violin at the University of Indianapolis. He has earned Artist Diplomas from both the Juilliard School and Yale School of Music as well as degrees from the New England Conservatory and Cleveland Institute of Music.
Mark Holloway, viola
Mark Holloway is a chamber musician sought after in the United States and abroad. He is a member of the Pacifica Quartet, in-residence at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University Bloomington, where he is a member of the faculty. An artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, he has appeared at prestigious festivals and series such as Marlboro, Music@Menlo, Ravinia, Caramoor, Banff, Taos, Music from Angel Fire, Mainly Mozart, Alpenglow, Plush, Whittington, Olympic, Concordia Chamber Players, Kon-Tiki, Bay Chamber Concerts, and with the Boston Chamber Music Society. Performances have taken him to such far-flung places as Chile and Greenland, and he plays regularly at chamber music festivals in France, Musikdorf Ernen in Switzerland, and at the International Musicians Seminar in Prussia Cove, England. He has frequently appeared as a guest with the New York Philharmonic, Orpheus, and the Metropolitan Opera orchestras. Mr. Holloway has been principal violist at Tanglewood and of the New York String Orchestra, and he has played as a guest with the Boston Symphony and guest principal of the American Symphony, Riverside Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Camerata Bern, American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He has performed at Bargemusic, the 92nd Street Y, the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, Tertulia, the Cartagena International Music Festival, with the Israeli Chamber Project, Chameleon Arts Ensemble, NOVUS NY, Emerald City Music, and on radio and television throughout the Americas and Europe, most recently a Live From Lincoln Center broadcast. Hailed as an “outstanding violist” by American Record Guide, and praised by Zürich’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung for his “warmth and intimacy,” he has recorded for the Marlboro Recording Society, CMS Live, Music@Menlo LIVE, Naxos, and Albany labels. Mr. Holloway was a student of Michelle LaCourse at Boston University, where he received his B.M. Summa cum laude, and he received his Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music as a student of Michael Tree.
Brandon Vamos, cello
Brandon Vamos has performed solo and chamber music recitals both in the U.S. and abroad to critical acclaim. Called a “first-rate cellist” by the Chicago Reader and praised for his “gutsy bravura” by the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Vamos has appeared as soloist with orchestras worldwide, including performances with the Taipei City Symphony, the Suwon Symphony in Seoul, the Samara Symphony in Russia, and the New Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Vamos has collaborated with many distinguished artists, including Paul Katz, Michael Tree, Yo-Yo Ma, Menahem Pressler, and the Emerson Quartet, and has recorded for Cedille, Naxos, and Cacophony Records. Awarded a Performer’s Certificate at the Eastman School of Music, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Music Degree as a student of Mr. Katz, Mr. Vamos has also studied with distinguished artists such as Tanya Carey in Macomb, Illinois, and Aldo Parisot at Yale University, where he earned a Master of Music Degree. As a member of the Pacifica Quartet, with whom he performs over 90 concerts a year, he won a 2009 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance and the Cleveland Quartet Award, in addition to being named Musical America’s 2009 Ensemble of the Year.
One of the most sought-after soloists in his generation of young American musicians, the pianist Orion Weiss has performed with the major American orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and New York Philharmonic. His deeply felt and exceptionally crafted performances go far beyond his technical mastery and have won him worldwide acclaim.
2018-19 sees him beginning the season with the Lucerne Festival and ending with the Minnesota Orchestra, with performances for the Denver Friends of Chamber Music, the University of Iowa, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Albany Symphony, the Kennedy Center’s Fortas Series, the 92ndStreet Y, and the Broad Stage in between. In 2017-18 Orion performed Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, toured with James Ehnes, and soloed with twelve orchestras around the United States. Other highlights of recent seasons include his third performance with the Chicago Symphony, a North American tour with the world-famous Salzburg Marionette Theater in a performance of Debussy’s La Boîte à Joujoux, the release of his recording of Christopher Rouse’s Seeing, and recordings of the complete Gershwin works for piano and orchestra with his longtime collaborators the Buffalo Philharmonic and JoAnn Falletta.
Named the Classical Recording Foundation’s Young Artist of the Year in September 2010, in the summer of 2011 Weiss made his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood as a last-minute replacement for Leon Fleisher. In recent seasons, he has also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and in duo summer concerts with the New York Philharmonic at both Lincoln Center and the Bravo! Vail Valley Festival. In 2005, he toured Israel with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Itzhak Perlman.
Also known for his affinity and enthusiasm for chamber music, Weiss performs regularly with the violinists Augustin Hadelich, William Hagen, Benjamin Beilman, James Ehnes, and Arnaud Sussman; the pianist Shai Wosner; and the cellist Julie Albers; and the Ariel, Parker, and Pacifica Quartets. As a recitalist and chamber musician, Weiss has appeared across the U.S. at venues and festivals including Lincoln Center, the Ravinia Festival, Sheldon Concert Hall, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society SummerFest, Chamber Music Northwest, the Bard Music Festival, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, the Kennedy Center, and Spivey Hall. He won the 2005 William Petschek Recital Award at Juilliard, and made his New York recital debut at Alice Tully Hall that April. Also in 2005 he made his European debut in a recital at the Musée du Louvre in Paris. He was a member of the Chamber Music Society Two program of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center from 2002-2004, which included his appearance in the opening concert of the Society’s 2002-2003 season at Alice Tully Hall performing Ravel’s La Valsewith Shai Wosner.
Weiss’s impressive list of awards includes the Gilmore Young Artist Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Gina Bachauer Scholarship at the Juilliard School and the Mieczyslaw Munz Scholarship. A native of Lyndhurst, OH, Weiss attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Paul Schenly, Daniel Shapiro, Sergei Babayan, Kathryn Brown, and Edith Reed. In February of 1999, Weiss made his Cleveland Orchestra debut performing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. In March 1999, with less than 24 hours’ notice, Weiss stepped in to replace André Watts for a performance of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He was immediately invited to return to the Orchestra for a performance of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in October 1999. In 2004, he graduated from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Emanuel Ax.
Beethoven: Quartet No. 16Pacifica Quartet plays Beethoven: Quartet No. 16
Orion Weiss plays Ravel: Le tombeau de Couperin, I. Prélude
MAR 30, 2020 | 7:30 PM | Riverview PAC
Musicians from Marlboro
• Respighi — Il Tramonto for Voice and String Quartet
• Brahms — String Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 67
• Mendelssohn — Octet in E-flat major, Op. 20
Lauren Pearl Eberwein, soprano • Abi Fayette, violin • Alina Kobialka, violin • Anna Lee, violin • Scott St. John, violin • Kei Tojo, viola • Sharon Wei, viola • Tony Rymer, cello • Judith Serkin, cello
“This was truly accomplished music-making. There are chamber groups of longtime standing that fail to come close to this ad-hoc group’s sense of shared purpose.” The New York Times
Since its founding in 1951, Marlboro Music has transformed the world of chamber music and played a vital role in developing generations of new musical leaders. Marlboro was created by eminent pianist Rudolf Serkin—its artistic director until his death in 1991—and co-founders Adolf and Herman Busch, and Marcel, Blanche, and Louis Moyse.
Over the ensuing decades, Marlboro was a vital gathering place and musical oasis for many renowned artists of the late 20th century, including cellist and conductor Pablo Casals; pianists Mieczyslaw Horszowski and Eugene Istomin; violinists Pina Carmirelli, Isidore Cohen, Felix Galimir, and Sándor Végh; cellists Madeline Foley and David Soyer; clarinetist Harold Wright; and soprano Benita Valente. Marlboro has also attracted acclaimed composers including Leon Kirchner (who helped to establish a resident composer program here in the 1970s), Samuel Barber, Elliott Carter, Aaron Copland, George Crumb, Luigi Dallapiccola, George Perle, and Gunther Schuller.
Since the Guarneri String Quartet formed at Marlboro in 1964, former participants have formed or joined many outstanding ensembles, including the Brentano, Cleveland, Emerson, Johannes, Juilliard, Mendelssohn, Orion, St. Lawrence, Takács, Tokyo, Vermeer, and Ying Quartets; the Beaux Arts, Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson and Mannes Trios; TASHI; the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; and other prominent festivals, series, and summer programs. Other Marlboro artists are now principal chair members of leading symphonic and opera orchestras world-wide; are among today’s most sought-after recording and solo artists; or are acclaimed teachers at prominent conservatories and universities.
Today, Marlboro continues to thrive under the leadership of Mitsuko Uchida and Jonathan Biss, remaining true to its core ideals while incorporating fresh ideas and inspiration.
Lauren Pearl Eberwein, soprano, is a Canadian-American vocalist known for her “luscious, rich tone” (Opera Canada), “robust, dramatic voice” (Broadway World), and for her reputation as “an artist of subtle skill” (Classical CD Choice). An avid and passionate chamber musician, Ms. Eberwein has participated at Marlboro, Chamberfest Cleveland, and the New York Festival of Song. Her upcoming chamber music collaborations include projects with The Hornby Island Festival, TaoArts Festival, Echo Chamber Toronto, the Rosebud Quartet, and the Aizuri Quartet. Equally comfortable on operatic and concert stages, Ms. Eberwein has made debuts at Lincoln Center, in recital at Alice Tully Hall, and at Carnegie Hall as a soloist with the New York Choral Society. She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and trained with Opera Philadelphia’s Emerging Artist Program and the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio. She has sung an exciting variety of roles, including Fünft Magt in Elektra, Gianetta in L’elisir d’amore, Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto, The Cook in The Nightingale, Wellgunde in Götterdämmerung, Olivia in Cold Mountain, Mère Marie in Dialogues des Carmelites, Clairon in Capriccio, Der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Dido in Dido and Aeneas.
Abigail Fayette, violin, is the youngest of four children in a musical family. She first picked up the violin at age 3, beginning her studies with her mother. In 2004, Ms. Fayette entered the Juilliard School’s Pre-college Division as a scholarship student of Shirley Givens. Other teachers of hers include Ann Setzer, Kyung-Wha Chung, Joseph Silverstein, and Ida Kavafian. Ms. Fayette made her Lincoln Center Debut at the age of 10 as the winner of the Juilliard Pre-College Chamber Orchestra concerto competition. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Ms. Fayette also holds a master’s degree from New England Conservatory, where she was under the tutelage of Soovin Kim. Ms. Fayette served as concertmaster of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and the New York String Orchestra Seminar during the 2014-15 season. She has collaborated with artists such as Hal Robinson, Gary Hoffman, Steve Tenenbom, Kim Kashkashian, Samuel Rhodes, and Peter Wiley. She is a frequent substitute violinist with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, with which she has toured extensively. Ms. Fayette has participated in several summer programs including Marlboro, the Taos School of Music, Kneisel Hall, Music from Angel Fire, and the Tanglewood Music Center.
Alina Kobialka, violin, has been praised as a remarkable young artist due to her beautiful tone, effortless precision, and musical maturity beyond her years. San Francisco Classical Voice described her as a “jaw-droppingly assured” soloist, who “made present and future converge.” The Las Vegas Review Journal wrote, “Watch for her name. She appears to be bound for greatness.” At the age of 14, Ms. Kobialka made her solo debut with the San Francisco Symphony at its 100th Anniversary Reunion Concert in Davies Symphony Hall. Last September, she returned for the third time as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. Recent performances include a guest artist recital at Southwestern University in Texas, playing the Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello with the California Symphony, and participating in a Musicians from Marlboro National Tour. Ms. Kobialka is a Colburn Music Academy alumna. Her past teachers include Robert Lipsett, Danielle Belen, Wei He, and Li Lin. She currently studies with Ilya Kaler at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Anna Lee, violin, began violin studies at age 4 with Alexander Souptel and debuted as soloist performing Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 a year and a half later with maestro Lan Shui and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Lee has appeared at Carnegie, Wigmore, Alice Tully, Avery Fisher, and Esplanade Concert Halls and has claimed multiple top and special prizes in the Indianapolis, Menuhin, Montréal, and Sion-Valais Competitions. Ms. Lee has been featured in festivals around the world, including Marlboro, Ravinia, and the Gstaad Menuhin Festival. She was also presented by Sir András Schiff at the BeethovenFest in Bonn. As a soloist, Ms. Lee made her New York Philharmonic debut in 2011, as well as her German debut in 2016 with maestro Christoph Eschenbach and the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra. Ms. Lee’s former teachers at the Juilliard School Pre-College Division were Masao Kawasaki and Cho-Liang Lin; at the Kronberg Academy she studied with Ana Chumachenco. Currently, Ms. Lee studies privately with Miriam Fried and Donald Weilerstein while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in comparative literature at Harvard College. Ms. Lee plays a Giovanni Tononi violin, ca. 1690, on generous loan from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute.
Scott St. John, violin, is the director of chamber music at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He leads the chamber music programs in the Colburn School’s Conservatory of Music and pre-college Music Academy. A frequent participant at Marlboro, he is also concertmaster of the ROCO Chamber Orchestra in Houston, TX. Born in London, ON, Mr. St. John achieved early violin success that led him to the Curtis Institute and the chance to work with David Cerone, Arnold Steinhardt, and Felix Galimir. He has won the Alexander Schneider Competition, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and a Juno Award for recording Mozart with his sister, violinist Lara St. John. Mr. St. John has been associate professor at the University of Toronto and artist-in-residence at Stanford University as part of the St. Lawrence String Quartet. He has founded two chamber music awards for students: the Felix Galimir Award at the University of Toronto and the Ida Levin Award at the Colburn School. He loves chamber music, Dvořák, new music, and a great espresso. He has been to all the Canadian provinces and 49 of the United States and prefers to travel by train when practical. He and his wife, violist Sharon Wei, have a spirited daughter named Julia.
Kei Tojo, viola, completed a master’s degree at the National Conservatory of Music and Dance in Paris in the class of Jean Sulem and continues her studies with Tabea Zimmermann in Berlin. She has also studied with Jeffrey Irvine at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She arrived in Paris in 2010 and successively won international competitions such as the Lionel Tertis in England (2nd prize and the prize for the contemporary piece), the William Primrose in the United States (honorable mention and Best Bach performance prize), and the Beethoven’s Hradec in the Czech Republic (2nd prize). She also won the 2nd prize, the J.S. Bach Award, the Special Prize for a Japanese Work, and the Public Prize at the 3rd Tokyo International Viola Competition in Japan. Ms. Tojo was selected by the Academy of the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra for the 2012-13 season, the Orchestre de Paris for the 2014-15 season, and the Karajan-Akademie of the Berlin Philharmonic for 2017-19. As a soloist, she has performed with Ensemble Les Illuminations and with the Orchestra of Hyogo Performing Art Center.
Sharon Wei, viola, is a dynamic and varied musician who has established herself as one of the most respected violists on the scene today. A native of Canada, she has been the recipient of grants through the Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council and has toured under the auspices of Debut Atlantic and Prairie Debut. She has been guest principal violist of the Cincinnati Symphony, Canadian Opera Company, Verbier Chamber Orchestra, and Ensemble Matheus in Paris and has performed chamber music with musicians including Claude Frank, Joseph Silverstein, the St. Lawrence Quartet, James Ehnes, Lynn Harrell, and Peter Wiley. She appears frequently at festivals such as Marlboro, Verbier, Seattle Chamber, Banff, Festival of the Sound, Chamberfest, and Ravini and is a regular faculty member at Curtis Summerfest, Tuckamore Festival, Port Milford, and the Scotia Festival of Music. Ms. Wei co-founded Ensemble Made in Canada, with which she has performed and taught across Canada. She was on faculty at Yale and Stanford Universities and is currently Associate Professor at Western University. She has created a course for performance majors in which students learn off-stage initiatives such as networking, grant writing, website design, time management, and finances.
Tony Rymer, cello, has performed major concerti to critical acclaim with the Atlanta Symphony, Boston Pops, Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, and Pittsburgh Symphony. He has been praised for his “fluid and clear technique” (Boston Globe) and lauded as “a seasoned pro, mature and polished” (Atlanta Journal Constitution). Mr. Rymer was recently recognized as first prize winner of the Washington International Competition and the Sphinx Competition, took second prize in the Enescu Competition, and was awarded third prize in the Stulberg International String Competition. A native of Boston, Mr. Rymer began playing cello at age 5 and was one of the first recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Award to be featured on the NPR national radio show From the Top. An enthusiastic chamber musician, Mr. Rymer has collaborated with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Miriam Fried, Kim Kashkashian, Martin Helmchen, and Dénes Várjon. He completed his Bachelor of Music and his Master of Music at the New England Conservatory, where he studied with Paul Katz and Laurence Lesser, and then received a Master of Music at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule für Musik with Frans Helmerson. He plays a cello made by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume on loan from the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben.
Judith Serkin, cello, has toured extensively across the United States, Japan, France, and Canada and has played at various festivals in Switzerland and Poland. She began her studies in Puerto Rico with Marta Casals Istomin, then continued with David Soyer and Mischa Schneider at the Curtis Institute. Ms. Serkin was a founding member of the Guilford Quartet and the Hebrew Arts Quartet (later known as the Mendelssohn Quartet). She was also a member of the Iceland Symphony, in Reykjavík, and played principal cello for many years with Musica Sacra in New York City, under Richard Westenberg. She has been a participant at both Yellow Barn and Marlboro Music and has performed on numerous Musicians from Marlboro tours over the years. Ms. Serkin has served on the faculty of the New England Conservatory Preparatory Department for the past five years, was a teacher at American University in Washington, D.C., and also teaches at the Brattleboro Music School, of which she was a founding member in 1975.
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