SCA logo 2024

2024 Great Performers Series

Join us for an exciting season of one-night-only performances featuring world-renowned orchestras, chamber ensembles and acclaimed soloists. 

CHOOSE 3 CONCERTS AND SAVE 10% – ORDER BY CALLING 941-966-6161

SINGLE TICKETS ON SALE NOW!

Monday, Jan 15, 7:30 pm  | Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Sophia Philharmonic

The Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra is the national orchestra of Bulgaria and has long established itself as one of the leading cultural institutions, representative of the overall contemporary musical culture of the country. The orchestra’s high artistic achievements have attracted collaborations with many esteemed conductors including Bruno Walter, Kurt Masur, Yuri Temirkanov, Neville Marriner, Charles Dutoit, and Marin Alsop. Soloists who have performed with the orchestra include Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Alexis Weissenberg, Dmitri Shostakovich, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jose Carreras, Julian Rachlin, Placido Domingo, Sarah Chang, Thomas Hampson, Yuri Bashmet, Maxim Vengerov, Joshua Bell, Martha Argerich, Viktoria Mullova, and many more.

The repertoire of the Sofia Philharmonic comprises works from the entire historically available range of music – from classical to contemporary, including premiere performances of numerous works by Bulgarian composers. The orchestra has garnered substantial recognition all over the world. It has guest-performed with great success and has performed in the major international musical centers including Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Russia, France, Croatia, and Switzerland, as well as many countries in Asia. Since 2017, Nayden Todorov has been the general director of the Sofia Philharmonic.

Principal Conductor of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra Since 2017, Christo Pavlov is Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Sofia Metropolitan Orchestra and Choir (also known as Philharmonia Orchestra of Bulgaria). He was also Principal Guest Conductor of the Sofia Sinfonietta.

Christo Pavlov has been guest conductor of many of the world’s leading orchestras including the Czech Philharmonic and Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra, and he has conducted in many prestigious concert halls including Austria’s Golden Hall in Vienna, Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, Konzersaal Philharmonie in Munich, and Dresden Kulturpalast, and in major music capitals throughout Europe and Asia.

Pavlov has been conductor or producer for several hundred productions for CD, film and games for companies including BMG, HBO, National Geographic, Centaur Records, and more.  Many of the recordings won international prizes (including EMI’s illustrious golden award, in addition to ten grammy nominations.  He has worked on these projects with many great musicians including  Jose Carreras and legendary film composer Lalo Schifrin and he has also been producer of concerts and recording projects with the Bulgarian national opera.

Ivaylo Vassilev was born in Sofia in 2007. He started playing piano at the age of seven with Emilia Kaneva at the Lyubomir Pipkov National Music School, and since 2019 has continued he studies under the tutelage of Prof. Borislava Taneva, PhD. At the age of 14 he has already earned more than 20 awards from international competition such as Golden Nutcracker (2018), 1st prize at the International Piano Competition Anna Artobolevskaya, 1st Prize at the Liszt-Bartók Competition and Grand Prix at the Schumann-Brahms Competition – in 2020, 1st Prize at the Music Singapore International Piano & Violin Competition (2021), 1st Prize in the Instrumentalists Under 15 category in the National Radio competitions for young musicians for Cantus Firmus Awards as well as the Cantus Firmus Grand Prix for 2020; 1st Prize at the International piano competition EUREGIO PIANO AWARD and two first prizes in different categories at the The Solinaria Youth Festival in the age group up to 18 years, and winner of the Crystal Lyre Award 2021 in the Young Artist category.

Due to his dedication and award-winning performances, Ivaylo has been given the incredible opportunity to perform in iconic venues such as the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, P. I. Tchaikovsky and the House of Music in Moscow, the St. Petersburg Symphony Chapel, the Luxembourg Philharmonic Hall, the Ghent Opera House, the Gustav Mahler Hall – Kulturzentrum Toblach (Italy), the Jumeirah Zabeel Music Hall in Dubai.

He has been a soloist of the two national symphony orchestras – the Sofia Philharmonic and the Symphony Orchestra of the Bulgarian National Radio, the Varna Philharmonic, as well as a number of other Bulgarian and Russian symphony orchestras. He has performed solo recitals in Sofia, Moscow, Luxembourg and Warsaw. In addition to his serious performing activities, Ivaylo Vasilev composes, improvises, accompanies and plays chamber music.

SOFIA PHILHARMONIC
with PIANIST IVAYLO VASSILEV
Christo Pavlov, conductor

Praised as “Bulgaria’s most illustrious musical institution” by Gramophone Magazine, the acclaimed Sofia Philharmonic makes its Sarasota debut to open the Sarasota Concert Association’s Great Performers Series. Principal Conductor Christo Pavlov leads the orchestra in an all-Beethoven program with Coriolan Overture, Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor, featuring pianist Ivaylo Vassilev, and his beloved Symphony No. 7.

BEETHOVEN   Coriolan Overture
BEETHOVEN   Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor
BEETHOVEN   Symphony No. 7

SOFIA PHILHARMONIC
with PIANIST IVAYLO VASSILEV
Christo Pavlov, conductor

Praised as “Bulgaria’s most illustrious musical institution” by Gramophone Magazine, the acclaimed Sofia Philharmonic makes its Sarasota debut to open the Sarasota Concert Association’s Great Performers Series. Principal Conductor Christo Pavlov leads the orchestra in an all-Beethoven program with Coriolan Overture, Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor, featuring pianist Ivaylo Vassilev, and his beloved Symphony No. 7.

BEETHOVEN   Coriolan Overture
BEETHOVEN   Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor
BEETHOVEN   Symphony No. 7

A large orchestra is standing in front of the stage.

The Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra is the national orchestra of Bulgaria and has long established itself as one of the leading cultural institutions, representative of the overall contemporary musical culture of the country. The orchestra’s high artistic achievements have attracted collaborations with many esteemed conductors including Bruno Walter, Kurt Masur, Yuri Temirkanov, Neville Marriner, Charles Dutoit, and Marin Alsop. Soloists who have performed with the orchestra include Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Alexis Weissenberg, Dmitri Shostakovich, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jose Carreras, Julian Rachlin, Placido Domingo, Sarah Chang, Thomas Hampson, Yuri Bashmet, Maxim Vengerov, Joshua Bell, Martha Argerich, Viktoria Mullova, and many more.

The repertoire of the Sofia Philharmonic comprises works from the entire historically available range of music – from classical to contemporary, including premiere performances of numerous works by Bulgarian composers. The orchestra has garnered substantial recognition all over the world. It has guest-performed with great success and has performed in the major international musical centers including Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Russia, France, Croatia, and Switzerland, as well as many countries in Asia. Since 2017, Nayden Todorov has been the general director of the Sofia Philharmonic.

Principal Conductor of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra Since 2017, Christo Pavlov is Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Sofia Metropolitan Orchestra and Choir (also known as Philharmonia Orchestra of Bulgaria). He was also Principal Guest Conductor of the Sofia Sinfonietta.

Christo Pavlov has been guest conductor of many of the world’s leading orchestras including the Czech Philharmonic and Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra, and he has conducted in many prestigious concert halls including Austria’s Golden Hall in Vienna, Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, Konzersaal Philharmonie in Munich, and Dresden Kulturpalast, and in major music capitals throughout Europe and Asia.

Pavlov has been conductor or producer for several hundred productions for CD, film and games for companies including BMG, HBO, National Geographic, Centaur Records, and more.  Many of the recordings won international prizes (including EMI’s illustrious golden award, in addition to ten grammy nominations.  He has worked on these projects with many great musicians including  Jose Carreras and legendary film composer Lalo Schifrin and he has also been producer of concerts and recording projects with the Bulgarian national opera.

Ivaylo Vassilev was born in Sofia in 2007. He started playing piano at the age of seven with Emilia Kaneva at the Lyubomir Pipkov National Music School, and since 2019 has continued he studies under the tutelage of Prof. Borislava Taneva, PhD. At the age of 14 he has already earned more than 20 awards from international competition such as Golden Nutcracker (2018), 1st prize at the International Piano Competition Anna Artobolevskaya, 1st Prize at the Liszt-Bartók Competition and Grand Prix at the Schumann-Brahms Competition – in 2020, 1st Prize at the Music Singapore International Piano & Violin Competition (2021), 1st Prize in the Instrumentalists Under 15 category in the National Radio competitions for young musicians for Cantus Firmus Awards as well as the Cantus Firmus Grand Prix for 2020; 1st Prize at the International piano competition EUREGIO PIANO AWARD and two first prizes in different categories at the The Solinaria Youth Festival in the age group up to 18 years, and winner of the Crystal Lyre Award 2021 in the Young Artist category.

Due to his dedication and award-winning performances, Ivaylo has been given the incredible opportunity to perform in iconic venues such as the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, P. I. Tchaikovsky and the House of Music in Moscow, the St. Petersburg Symphony Chapel, the Luxembourg Philharmonic Hall, the Ghent Opera House, the Gustav Mahler Hall – Kulturzentrum Toblach (Italy), the Jumeirah Zabeel Music Hall in Dubai.

He has been a soloist of the two national symphony orchestras – the Sofia Philharmonic and the Symphony Orchestra of the Bulgarian National Radio, the Varna Philharmonic, as well as a number of other Bulgarian and Russian symphony orchestras. He has performed solo recitals in Sofia, Moscow, Luxembourg and Warsaw. In addition to his serious performing activities, Ivaylo Vasilev composes, improvises, accompanies and plays chamber music.

Wednesday, Jan 24 at 7:30 pm | Riverview Performing Arts Center

HARLEM QUARTET

The Grammy Award-winning Harlem String Quartet has dazzled audiences from Carnegie Hall to the White House, and has collaborated with world-renowned artists including Itzhak Perlman.  Known for their eclectic programming, the Quartet makes their Sarasota Concert Association debut performing works by Beethoven, Fanny Mendelssohn and more. 
Learn more

BEETHOVEN String Quartet Opus 18, No. 5
GUIDO LÓPEZ-GAVILÁN Cuarteto en Guaguanco
CAROLINE SHAW  Entr’acte
FANNY MENDELSSOHN – String Quartet in E-flat Major
Harlem Quartet

The New York-based Harlem Quartet has been praised for its “panache” by The New York Times and hailed in the Cincinnati Enquirer for “bringing a new attitude to classical music, one that is fresh, bracing and intelligent.” Since its public debut at Carnegie Hall in 2006, the ensemble has thrilled audiences and students in 47 states as well as in the U.K., France, Belgium, Brazil, Panama, Canada, Venezuela, Japan, Ethiopia, and South Africa.

The Harlem Quartet has three distinctive characteristics: diverse programming that combines music from the standard string quartet canon with jazz, Latin, and contemporary works; a collaborative approach to performance that is continually broadening the ensemble’s repertoire and audience reach through artistic partnerships with other musicians from the classical and jazz worlds; and an ongoing commitment to residency activity and other forms of educational outreach.

The quartet has engaged in both educational and community engagement activities, including an educational residency in Mobile, AL, which included a close partnership with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra. Other residency activities have been with the Santa Fe Youth Symphony, and an annual workshop at Music Mountain in Falls Village, CT.

In addition to performing a varied menu of string quartet literature across the country and around the world, Harlem Quartet has collaborated with such distinguished artists as classical pianists Awadagin Pratt and Misha Dichter, jazz pianists Chick Corea and Aldo López-Gavilán; violist Ida Kavafian; cellist Carter Brey; clarinetists Paquito D’Rivera and Eddie Daniels, and jazz legends Ted Nash, Gary Burton, and Stanley Clarke.

 Alongside its regular activities as a chamber ensemble, Harlem Quartet performs a variety of works written for solo string quartet and orchestra. In 2012, with the Chicago Sinfonietta under Music Director Mei-Ann Chen, the quartet gave the world premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story as arranged for string quartet and orchestra by Randall Craig Fleischer. 

Harlem Quartet has been featured on WNBC, CNN, NBC’s Today Show, WQXR-FM, and the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and it performed in 2009 for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. The quartet made its European debut in October 2009 performing at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to the U.K. and returned to Europe as guest artists and faculty members of the Musica Mundi International Festival in Belgium. In early 2011 the ensemble was featured at the Panama Jazz Festival in Panama City.

 The quartet’s recording career began in 2007 when White Pine Music issued Take the “A” Train, a release featuring the string quartet version of that jazz standard by Billy Strayhorn. A second CD, featuring three string quartets by Walter Piston, was released in 2010 by Naxos. The quartet’s third recording, released in 2011, is a collaboration with pianist Awadagin Pratt and showcases works by American composer Judith Lang Zaimont. More recently the quartet collaborated with jazz pianist Chick Corea in a Grammy-winning Hot House album that included Corea’s “Mozart Goes Dancing,” which won a separate Grammy as Best Instrumental Composition. The jazz album Heart of Brazil: A Tribute to Egberto Gismonti, recorded with the Eddie Daniels Quartet, was released in June 2018 on Resonance Records. Harlem Quartet’s latest album, the 2020 release Cross Pollination, features works by Debussy, William Bolcom, Dizzy Gillespie, and Guido López-Gavilán.

Monday, Feb 19, 7:30 pm  | Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

cellist Alisa Weilerstein

The acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and a deep connection to its city. As a community-supported orchestra, generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels drives the continued success and growth of the organization. In January 2020, Italian conductor Jader Bignamini became the DSO’s next music director, commencing with the 2020-21 season.

Conductor Leonard Slatkin, who concluded a decade-long tenure at the helm in 2018, now serves as the DSO’s Music Director Laureate. Celebrated conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik is the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, while the outstanding trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard holds the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair.

Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, which celebrated its centennial in 2019-2020, the DSO offers a performance schedule that features Classical, PNC Pops, Paradise Jazz, and Young People’s Family Concert series. In addition, the DSO presents the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series in seven metro area venues, as well as a robust schedule of eclectic multi-genre performances in its mid-size venue The Cube, constructed and curated with support from Peter D. & Julie F. Cummings. A dedication to broadcast innovation began in 1922, when the DSO became the first orchestra in the world to present a radio broadcast and continues today with the free Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series, which also reaches tens of thousands of children with the Classroom Edition expansion.

Music Director of the Detroit Symphony since the 2021-2022 season, Jader Bignamini is making his debut with Opera de Paris, conducting La Forza del Destino, and with Deutsche Opera Berlin, conducting Simon Boccanegra, as well as with the Pittsburgh and Toronto Symphonies.

Highlights of the 2021-22 season included his debut with Canadian Opera Company conducting Gianni Schicchi and Rigoletto with Oper Frankurt, as well as concerts with The Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Festival, Houston and New Jersey Symphonies, Residentie Orkest The Hague, and Bern Symphony Orchestra.

In Summer 2021, Bignamini led triumphant performances of Turandot at the Arena di Verona with Anna Netrebko and Yusiv Eyvazov, as well as a staged production of Rossini’s Stabat Mater at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro. Other recent highlights include debuts with the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera and Dutch National Opera conducting Madama ButterflyLuisa Miller and La Forza del Destino at Oper Frankfurt, Cavalleria rusticana at Michigan Opera Theatre, La bohème at Santa Fe Opera, and La Traviata in Tokyo directed by Sofia Coppola. On the concert stage, he has lead the Dallas and Milwaukee Symphonies, Minnesota Orchestra, Slovenian and Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestras, Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, and Mannheim National Theater Orchestra.

Bignamini has conducted led operas throughout the world including at the Bolshoi, Bayerische Staatsoper, Stadttheater Klagenfurt, the Teatro Filarmonica, Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera, Municipal de São Paulo, as well as at the Verdi Festival in Parmaas, the Festival della Valle d’Itria in Martina Franca, and the MITO Festival conducting Berlioz’ Messe Solennelle. He made his concert debut at La Scala in 2015.

Bignamini began his conducting career as Assistant and then Resident Conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica la Verdi, having been appointed by Riccardo Chailly in 2010. He was born in Crema and studied at the Piacenza Music Conservatory.

Alisa Weilerstein is one of the foremost cellists of our time. Known for her consummate artistry, emotional investment and rare interpretive depth, she was recognized with a MacArthur “genius grant” Fellowship in 2011. Today her career is truly global in scope, taking her to the most prestigious international venues for solo recitals, chamber concerts and concerto collaborations with all the preeminent conductors and orchestras worldwide. “Weilerstein is a throwback to an earlier age of classical performers: not content merely to serve as a vessel for the composer’s wishes, she inhabits a piece fully and turns it to her own ends,” marvels the New York Times. “

With her multi-season new project, “FRAGMENTS,” Weilerstein aims to rethink the concert experience and broaden the tent for classical music. A multisensory production for solo cello, the six-chapter series sees her weave together the 36 movements of Bach’s solo cello suites with 27 new commissions. After premiering the first two chapters in Toronto in early 2023, with subsequent performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall and beyond, she looks forward to touring all six chapters in seasons to come. Weilerstein recently premiered Joan Tower’s new cello concerto, A New Day, at the Colorado Music Festival. The work was co-commissioned with the Detroit Symphony; the Cleveland Orchestra, where Weilerstein performed it last fall; and the National Symphony, where she reprised it in May.

An ardent proponent of contemporary music, she has also premiered and championed important new works by composers including Pascal Dusapin, Osvaldo Golijov and Matthias Pintscher. Already an authority on Bach’s music for unaccompanied cello, in spring 2020 Weilerstein released a best-selling recording of his solo suites on the Pentatone label, streamed them in her innovative #36DaysOfBach project, and deconstructed his beloved G-major prelude in a Vox.com video, viewed more than two million times. Her discography also includes chart-topping albums and the winner of BBC Music’s “Recording of the Year” award, while other career milestones include a performance at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at nine years old, Weilerstein is a staunch advocate for the T1D community. She lives with her husband, Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare, and their two young children.

DETROIT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
with CELLIST ALISA WEILERSTEIN

Jader Bignamini, conductor

World-renowned cellist Alisa Weilerstein, described as “a new generation’s cello superstar,” joins the Detroit Symphony in Elgar’s popular Cello Concerto.  Music Director Jader Bignamini leads the orchestra in Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Michael Abels’ Emerge as well as Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral showpiece, Scheherazade.

MICHAEL ABELS  Emerge
ELGAR   Cello Concerto in E minor
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV   Scheherazade 

DETROIT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
with CELLIST ALISA WEILERSTEIN

Jader Bignamini, conductor

World-renowned cellist Alisa Weilerstein, described as “a new generation’s cello superstar,” joins the Detroit Symphony in Elgar’s popular Cello Concerto.  Music Director Jader Bignamini leads the orchestra in Wynton Marsalis’ Fanfare as well as Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral showpiece, Scheherazade.

MICHAEL ABELS  Emerge
ELGAR   Cello Concerto in E minor
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV   Scheherazade 

cellist Alisa Weilerstein

The acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and a deep connection to its city. As a community-supported orchestra, generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels drives the continued success and growth of the organization. In January 2020, Italian conductor Jader Bignamini became the DSO’s next music director, commencing with the 2020-21 season.

Conductor Leonard Slatkin, who concluded a decade-long tenure at the helm in 2018, now serves as the DSO’s Music Director Laureate. Celebrated conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik is the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, while the outstanding trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard holds the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair.

Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, which celebrated its centennial in 2019-2020, the DSO offers a performance schedule that features Classical, PNC Pops, Paradise Jazz, and Young People’s Family Concert series. In addition, the DSO presents the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series in seven metro area venues, as well as a robust schedule of eclectic multi-genre performances in its mid-size venue The Cube, constructed and curated with support from Peter D. & Julie F. Cummings. A dedication to broadcast innovation began in 1922, when the DSO became the first orchestra in the world to present a radio broadcast and continues today with the free Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series, which also reaches tens of thousands of children with the Classroom Edition expansion.

Music Director of the Detroit Symphony since the 2021-2022 season, Jader Bignamini is making his debut with Opera de Paris, conducting La Forza del Destino, and with Deutsche Opera Berlin, conducting Simon Boccanegra, as well as with the Pittsburgh and Toronto Symphonies.

Highlights of the 2021-22 season included his debut with Canadian Opera Company conducting Gianni Schicchi and Rigoletto with Oper Frankurt, as well as concerts with The Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Festival, Houston and New Jersey Symphonies, Residentie Orkest The Hague, and Bern Symphony Orchestra.

In Summer 2021, Bignamini led triumphant performances of Turandot at the Arena di Verona with Anna Netrebko and Yusiv Eyvazov, as well as a staged production of Rossini’s Stabat Mater at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro. Other recent highlights include debuts with the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera and Dutch National Opera conducting Madama ButterflyLuisa Miller and La Forza del Destino at Oper Frankfurt, Cavalleria rusticana at Michigan Opera Theatre, La bohème at Santa Fe Opera, and La Traviata in Tokyo directed by Sofia Coppola. On the concert stage, he has lead the Dallas and Milwaukee Symphonies, Minnesota Orchestra, Slovenian and Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestras, Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, and Mannheim National Theater Orchestra.

Bignamini has conducted led operas throughout the world including at the Bolshoi, Bayerische Staatsoper, Stadttheater Klagenfurt, the Teatro Filarmonica, Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera, Municipal de São Paulo, as well as at the Verdi Festival in Parmaas, the Festival della Valle d’Itria in Martina Franca, and the MITO Festival conducting Berlioz’ Messe Solennelle. He made his concert debut at La Scala in 2015.

Bignamini began his conducting career as Assistant and then Resident Conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica la Verdi, having been appointed by Riccardo Chailly in 2010. He was born in Crema and studied at the Piacenza Music Conservatory.

Alisa Weilerstein is one of the foremost cellists of our time. Known for her consummate artistry, emotional investment and rare interpretive depth, she was recognized with a MacArthur “genius grant” Fellowship in 2011. Today her career is truly global in scope, taking her to the most prestigious international venues for solo recitals, chamber concerts and concerto collaborations with all the preeminent conductors and orchestras worldwide. “Weilerstein is a throwback to an earlier age of classical performers: not content merely to serve as a vessel for the composer’s wishes, she inhabits a piece fully and turns it to her own ends,” marvels the New York Times. “

With her multi-season new project, “FRAGMENTS,” Weilerstein aims to rethink the concert experience and broaden the tent for classical music. A multisensory production for solo cello, the six-chapter series sees her weave together the 36 movements of Bach’s solo cello suites with 27 new commissions. After premiering the first two chapters in Toronto in early 2023, with subsequent performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall and beyond, she looks forward to touring all six chapters in seasons to come. Weilerstein recently premiered Joan Tower’s new cello concerto, A New Day, at the Colorado Music Festival. The work was co-commissioned with the Detroit Symphony; the Cleveland Orchestra, where Weilerstein performed it last fall; and the National Symphony, where she reprised it in May.

An ardent proponent of contemporary music, she has also premiered and championed important new works by composers including Pascal Dusapin, Osvaldo Golijov and Matthias Pintscher. Already an authority on Bach’s music for unaccompanied cello, in spring 2020 Weilerstein released a best-selling recording of his solo suites on the Pentatone label, streamed them in her innovative #36DaysOfBach project, and deconstructed his beloved G-major prelude in a Vox.com video, viewed more than two million times. Her discography also includes chart-topping albums and the winner of BBC Music’s “Recording of the Year” award, while other career milestones include a performance at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at nine years old, Weilerstein is a staunch advocate for the T1D community. She lives with her husband, Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare, and their two young children.

Sunday, March 3, 7:30 pm  | Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

ROTTERDAM PHILHARMONIC
with PIANIST DANIIL TRIFONOV
Lahav Shani, conductor

Chief Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Lahav Shani leads the Orchestra in excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.  Described by The Times of London as “the most astounding pianist of our age,” Grammy Award-winning pianist Daniil Trifonov joins the Orchestra for Prokofiev’s virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 2.

ARVO PÄRT   Swan Song
PROKOFIEV  Piano Concerto No. 2
PROKOFIEV  Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet

pianist Daniil Trifonov

The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra distinguishes itself with its intensely energetic performances, its acclaimed recordings and its innovative audience approach. Founded in 1918, it has claimed its own position among Europe’s most foremost orchestras.

After the first pioneering years, the Rotterdam Philharmonic developed into one of the foremost orchestras of the Netherlands under Eduard Flipse, principal conductor from 1930. In the 1970s, under Jean Fournet and Edo de Waart, the orchestra gained international recognition. Valery Gergiev’s appointment heralded a new period of bloom, which continued with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and with Lahav Shani, the orchestra’s current principal conductor since 2018.

Since 2010, the Rotterdam Philharmonic has been a resident orchestra of the Paris Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. With performances from the local venues to concert halls worldwide, educational performances and community projects, the orchestra reaches an annual audience of 150,000 to 200,000, including a considerable number of young people.

Since the orchestra’s groundbreaking Mahler recordings with Eduard Flipse in the 1950s, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra has made a large number of critically lauded recordings. At present the orchestra has contracts with Deutsche Grammophone and BIS Records; in recent years it also recorded for EMI and Virgin Classics. For the re-releasing of historical recordings, the orchestra formed its own label Rotterdam Philharmonic Vintage Recordings. Live streams of concerts can be seen regularly via the online platform Medici.tv. During the outbreak of the coronavirus, the orchestra reached its audience with digital content. Most notable was a stay-at-home rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, which was viewed 3 million times.

Since 2018, Lahav Shani has been the Chief Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. In the 2020-21 season he became Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, taking over from Zubin Mehta who held the position for 50 years. Shani was previously Principal Guest Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. In February 2023 the Münchner Philharmoniker appointed Lahav Shani as their new Chief Conductor, starting from September 2026.

In June 2016 he debuted with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra as conductor and solo pianist. No less than two months later, his appointment as Chief Conductor was announced and he became the youngest conductor to hold the position in the orchestra’s history. The Rotterdam Philharmonic with Shani have an exclusive recording contract with Warner Classics.

Shani’s close relationship with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra began well over 10 years ago. He debuted with the orchestra aged sixteen, and in 2007 performed Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto under the baton of Zubin Mehta aged eighteen. He then went on to play regularly with the orchestra as a double bassist. In 2013, after winning the Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition in Bamberg, the orchestra invited him to step in to conduct their season-opening concerts. Since then, he has returned to the orchestra every year as both a conductor and pianist.

Recent and upcoming guest conductor highlights include engagements with Wiener Philharmoniker, Berliner Philharmoniker, Gewandhaus Orchester, Münchner Philharmoniker, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, London Symphony Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and Philharmonia Orchestra. In March 2022 Lahav Shani conducted Munich’s Benefit concert in aid of Ukraine at the Isarphilharmonie with Anne-Sophie Mutter and the three orchestras of the city, Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and Münchner Philharmoniker. In the 2022/2023 season, he returned to the Münchner Philharmoniker for a concert series in Munich and Switzerland and also began his 3-year residency at the Konzerthaus Dortmund.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1989, Shani began his piano studies aged six with Hannah Shalgi, before continuing with Prof. Arie Vardi at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music. He went on to study conducting under Prof. Christian Ehwald and piano with Prof. Fabio Bidini at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler, Berlin and was mentored by Daniel Barenboim during his time there.

As a pianist, Shani has performed as a soloist with Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta and Gianandrea Noseda. He has play-directed piano concerti with many orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Staatskapelle Berlin and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Shani also has considerable experience performing chamber music and in recital and is a regular performer at the Verbier Festival, and has also appeared at the Aix-en-Provence Easter and Jerusalem Chamber Music Festivals, and in duo recitals with Martha Argerich.

Grammy Award-winning pianist Daniil Trifonov – Musical America’s 2019 Artist of the Year – has made a spectacular ascent of the classical music world, as a solo artist, champion of the concerto repertoire, chamber and vocal collaborator, and composer. Combining consummate technique with rare sensitivity and depth, his performances are a perpetual source of awe. “He has everything and more … tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that,” marveled pianist Martha Argerich. With Transcendental, the Liszt collection that marked his third title as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, Trifonov won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Solo Album of 2018. As The Times of London notes, he is “without question the most astounding pianist of our age.”

In October 2021, Trifonov released Bach: The Art of Life on Deutsche Grammophon, featuring The Art of Fugue with the pianist’s own completion of the final contrapunctus, selections from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, music by four of Johann Sebastian’s sons, and two pieces known to have been Bach family favorites. He has performed throughout the world with orchestras including Philharmonia Zurich, Rome’s Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and more.  He performed all five of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos in various combinations with eight different orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra and Toronto Symphony. To balance these repertoire staples, Trifonov gave the world premiere performances of Mason Bates’s new Piano Concerto, composed for him during the pandemic, with ensembles including the co-commissioning Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony.

During his season-long tenure as Artist-in-Residence of the New York Philharmonic under Jaap van Zweden in 2019-20, the orchestra featured the New York premiere of Trifonov’s own Piano Quintet, and a seven-concert, season-long Carnegie Hall “Perspectives” series, crowned by a performance of the pianist’s own Piano Concerto. Trifonov has performed recitals throughout the world including Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Japan’s Suntory Hall, Paris’s Salle Pleyel, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Barcelona’s Palau de la Música, Tokyo’s Opera City, the Seoul Arts Center and more.

Trifonov received Opus Klassik’s 2021 Instrumentalist of the Year/Piano award for Silver Age, his album of Russian solo and orchestral piano music by Scriabin, Prokofiev and Stravinsky. Released in fall 2020, this followed 2019’s Destination Rachmaninov: Arrival, for which the pianist received a 2021 Grammy nomination. Deutsche Grammophon has also issued Chopin Evocations, which pairs the composer’s works with those by the 20th-century composers he influenced, and Trifonov: The Carnegie Recital, the pianist’s first recording as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, which captured Trifonov’s sold-out 2013 Carnegie Hall recital debut live and scored him his first Grammy nomination.

It was during the 2010-11 season that Trifonov won medals at three of the music world’s most prestigious competitions, taking Third Prize in Warsaw’s Chopin Competition, First Prize in Tel Aviv’s Rubinstein Competition, and both First Prize and Grand Prix – an additional honor bestowed on the best overall competitor in any category – in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Competition. In 2013 he was awarded the prestigious Franco Abbiati Prize for Best Instrumental Soloist by Italy’s foremost music critics, in 2016 he was named Gramophone’s Artist of the Year and in 2021 he was made a “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the French government.

Born in Nizhny Novgorod in 1991, Trifonov began his musical training at the age of five, and went on to attend Moscow’s Gnessin School of Music as a student of Tatiana Zelikman, before pursuing his piano studies with Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has also studied composition, and continues to write for piano, chamber ensemble and orchestra.

Friday, March 29 at 7:30 pm | Riverview Performing Arts Center

Bruce Xiaoyu Liu, pianist standing wearing a black suit

Bruce Liu was brought to the world’s attention in 2021, when he won the First Prize at the 18th Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw. Since then he has toured the world, appearing at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, Vienna Konzerthaus, BOZAR Brussels, Tokyo Opera City, Sala São Paulo, and the Royal Festival Hall with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Orchestral appearances also include the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

Recent performances include a recital on the main stage of Carnegie Hall while orchestral appearances include performances with the Montreal Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Wiener Symphoniker at the Musikverein. His festival appearances include la Roque d’Anthéron, Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Rheingau, Edinburgh, Chopin and his Europe, Duszniki, and Gstaad Menuhin. Past highlights include performances with the Cleveland Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and a tour of North America with the China NCPA Orchestra.

An exclusive recording artist with Deutsche Grammophon, Mr. Liu’s first album featuring the winning performances from the Chopin Competition won a Fryderyk Award and received international acclaim including both the Critics’ choice and Editor’s choice in Gramophone Magazine, which proclaimed his debut disc as “simply one of the most distinguished Chopin recitals of recent years”. They also included it in the list of Best classical albums of 2021, and described Mr. Liu’s playing as “evoking Shura Cherkassky and Georges Cziffra in a single breath.”

Born in Paris to Chinese parents, Bruce Liu grew up in Montreal. His life has been steeped in cultural diversity, which has shaped his differences in attitude, personality and character. He draws on various sources of inspiration for his art: European refinement, Chinese long tradition, North American dynamism and openness. Following his artist path with optimism and a smile, his teachers include Richard Raymond and Dang Thai Son.

PIANIST BRUCE LIU

First Prize winner in the 2021 Chopin International Piano Competition, and the pianist who brought down the house two years ago in Sarasota with his incredible virtuosity, Bruce Liu performs a recital including Rameau, Ravel, Chopin and Liszt. 

RAMEAU   Selections from Pieces de clavecin
CHOPIN   Variations on “Là ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni
R
AVEL   Miroirs
LISZT Réminiscences de Don Juan 

PIANIST BRUCE LIU

First Prize winner in the 2021 Chopin International Piano Competition, and the pianist who brought down the house two years ago in Sarasota with his incredible virtuosity, Bruce Liu performs a recital including Rameau, Ravel, Chopin and Liszt. 

RAMEAU   Selections from Pieces de clavecin
CHOPIN   Variations on “Là ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni
R
AVEL   Miroirs
LISZT Réminiscences de Don Juan 

Bruce Xiaoyu Liu, pianist standing wearing a black suit

Bruce Liu was brought to the world’s attention in 2021, when he won the First Prize at the 18th Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw. Since then he has toured the world, appearing at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, Vienna Konzerthaus, BOZAR Brussels, Tokyo Opera City, Sala São Paulo, and the Royal Festival Hall with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Orchestral appearances also include the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

Recent performances include a recital on the main stage of Carnegie Hall while orchestral appearances include performances with the Montreal Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Wiener Symphoniker at the Musikverein. His festival appearances include la Roque d’Anthéron, Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Rheingau, Edinburgh, Chopin and his Europe, Duszniki, and Gstaad Menuhin. Past highlights include performances with the Cleveland Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and a tour of North America with the China NCPA Orchestra.

An exclusive recording artist with Deutsche Grammophon, Mr. Liu’s first album featuring the winning performances from the Chopin Competition won a Fryderyk Award and received international acclaim including both the Critics’ choice and Editor’s choice in Gramophone Magazine, which proclaimed his debut disc as “simply one of the most distinguished Chopin recitals of recent years”. They also included it in the list of Best classical albums of 2021, and described Mr. Liu’s playing as “evoking Shura Cherkassky and Georges Cziffra in a single breath.”

Born in Paris to Chinese parents, Bruce Liu grew up in Montreal. His life has been steeped in cultural diversity, which has shaped his differences in attitude, personality and character. He draws on various sources of inspiration for his art: European refinement, Chinese long tradition, North American dynamism and openness. Following his artist path with optimism and a smile, his teachers include Richard Raymond and Dang Thai Son.

The 2024 Great Performers Series is sponsored by Jan & Bill Farber

View our Great Performers Series season program book

Questions? Call 941-966-6161, 10 am to 4 pm, Mon-Fri

Bringing World-Class Artists to the Suncoast!
Your generous support has enabled us to bring outstanding music to our region for more than 75 years.  

Skip to content