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Our 2022 Great Performers Series brings the world’s most renowned classical musicians to perform in Sarasota during a five-concert season, January through March, at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and Riverview Performing Arts Center. Subscribing to the full 5-concert series provides the best value and seating options.
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THURSDAY | JANUARY 20 | 7:30 PM | VAN WEZEL
Detroit Symphony Orchestra with cellist Alisa Weilerstein
World-renowned cellist Alisa Weilerstein joins Music Director Jader Bignamini and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in a program highlighted by Dvořák’s beloved Cello Concerto and Mussorgsky/Ravel’s rousing Pictures at an Exhibition.
The most accessible orchestra on the planet, 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 was named the DSO’s next music director to commence with the 2020-2021 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, the DSO offers a performance schedule that features Classical, PNC Pops, Paradise Jazz, and Young People’s Family Concert series.
One of the world’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, Orchestra Hall celebrated its centennial in 2019-2020. 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. With growing attendance and unwavering philanthropic support from the people of Detroit, the DSO actively pursues a mission to embrace and inspire individuals, families, and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.
Jader Bignamini is the newly appointed Music Director Designate of the Detroit Symphony, officially taking up his post as Music Director in the 2021-22 season. He continues as Resident Conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica la Verdi, following his appointment as Assistant Conductor in 2010 by Riccardo Chailly.
Highlights of the 19-20 season include debuts with the Toronto, Houston, and Dallas Symphonies; Minnesota Orchestra; Canadian Opera Company conducting Aida; and Bayerische Staatsoper conducting La Traviata; and return engagements with the Detroit Symphony and Stadttheater Klagenfurt conducting Eugene Onegin. He continues to tour with soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Yusif Eyvazov.
Bignamini’s 18-19 season included debuts at the Vienna State Opera and Dutch National Opera conducting Madama Butterfly and a debut with the Milwaukee Symphony; return engagements with Oper Frankfurt conducting La forza del destino and Santa Fe Opera conducting La Bohème; La Traviata in Tokyo directed by Sofia Coppola; and return engagements with the Slovenian and Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestras.
“The extraordinary cellist Alisa Weilerstein … gave [Dusapin’s cello concerto] the kind of debut most composers can only dream of achieving…” Chicago Tribune
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. “Weilerstein’s cello is her id. She doesn’t give the impression that making music involves will at all. She and the cello seem simply to be one and the same,” agrees the Los Angeles Times. As the UK’s Telegraph put it, “Weilerstein is truly a phenomenon.”
Bach’s six suites for unaccompanied cello figure prominently in Weilerstein’s current programming. Over the past two seasons, she has given rapturously received live accounts of the complete set on three continents, with recitals in New York, Washington DC, Boston, Los Angeles, Berkeley and San Diego; at Aspen and Caramoor; in Tokyo, Osaka, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, London, Manchester, Aldeburgh, Paris and Barcelona; and for a full-capacity audience at Hamburg’s iconic new Elbphilharmonie. During the global pandemic, she has further cemented her status as one of the suites’ leading exponents. Released in April 2020, her Pentatone recording of the complete set became a Billboard bestseller and was named “Album of the Week” by the UK’s Sunday Times. As captured in Vox’s YouTube series, her insights into Bach’s first G-major prelude were viewed almost1.5 million times. During the first weeks of the lockdown, she chronicled her developing engagement with the suites on social media, fostering an even closer connection with her online audience by streaming a new movement each day in her innovative #36DaysOfBachproject. As The New York Times observed in a dedicated feature, by presenting these more intimate accounts alongside her new studio recording, Weilerstein gave listeners the rare opportunity to learn whether “the pressures of a pandemic [can] change the very sound a musician makes, or help her see a beloved piece in a new way.”
Earlier in the 2019-20 season, as Artistic Partner of the Trondheim Soloists, Weilerstein joined the Norwegian orchestra in London, Munich and Bergen for performances including Haydn’s two cello concertos, as featured on their acclaimed 2018 release, Transfigured Night. She also performed ten more concertos by Schumann, Saint-Saëns, Elgar, Strauss, Shostakovich, Britten, Barber, Bloch, Matthias Pintscher and Thomas Larcher, with the London Symphony Orchestra, Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and the Houston, Detroit and San Diego symphonies. In recital, besides making solo Bach appearances, she reunited with her frequent duo partner, Inon Barnatan, for Brahms and Shostakovich at London’s Wigmore Hall, Milan’s Sala Verdiand Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. To celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, she and the Israeli pianist performed the composer’s five cello sonatas in Cincinnati and Scottsdale, and joined Guy Braunstein and the Dresden Philharmonic for Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, as heard on the duo’s 2019 Pentatone recording with Stefan Jackiw, Alan Gilbert and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
Committed to expanding the cello repertoire, Weilerstein is an ardent champion of new music. She has premiered two important new concertos, giving Pascal Dusapin’s Outscape “the kind of debut most composers can only dream of” (Chicago Tribune) with the co-commissioning Chicago Symphony in 2016 and proving herself “the perfect guide” (Boston Globe) to Matthias Pintscher’s cello concerto un despertar with the co-commissioning Boston Symphony the following year. She has since reprised Dusapin’s concerto with the Stuttgart and Paris Opera Orchestras and Pintscher’s with the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne and with the Danish Radio Symphony and Cincinnati Symphony, both under the composer’s leadership. It was also under Pintscher’s direction that she gave the New York premiere of his Reflections on Narcissus at the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural 2014 Biennial, before reuniting with him to revisit the work at London’s BBC Proms. She has worked extensively with Osvaldo Golijov, who rewrote Azul for cello and orchestra for her New York premiere performance at the opening of the 2007 Mostly Mozart Festival. Since then she has played the work with orchestras around the world, besides frequently programming his Omaramor for solo cello. Grammy nominee Joseph Hallman has written multiple compositions for her, including a cello concerto that she premiered with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and a trio that she premiered on tour with Barnatan and clarinetist Anthony McGill.
Weilerstein has appeared with all the major orchestras of the United States, Europe and Asia, collaborating with conductors including Marin Alsop, Daniel Barenboim, Jiří Bělohlávek, Semyon Bychkov, Thomas Dausgaard, Sir Andrew Davis, Gustavo Dudamel, Sir Mark Elder, Alan Gilbert, Giancarlo Guerrero, Bernard Haitink, Pablo Heras-Casado, Marek Janowski, Paavo Järvi, Lorin Maazel, Cristian Măcelaru, Zubin Mehta, Ludovic Morlot, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Peter Oundjian, Rafael Payare, Donald Runnicles, Yuri Temirkanov, Michael Tilson Thomas, Osmo Vänskä, Joshua Weilerstein, Simone Young and David Zinman. In 2009, she was one of four artists invited by Michelle Obama to participate in a widely celebrated and high-profile classical music event at the White House, featuring student workshops hosted by the First Lady and performances in front of an audience that included President Obama and the First Family. A month later, Weilerstein toured Venezuela as soloist with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra under Dudamel, since when she has made numerous return visits to teach and perform with the orchestra as part of its famed El Sistema music education program.
Alisa Weilerstein discovered her love for the cello at just two and a half, when she had chicken pox and her grandmother assembled a makeshift set of instruments from cereal boxes to entertain her. Although immediately drawn to the Rice Krispies box cello, Weilerstein soon grew frustrated that it didn’t produce any sound. After persuading her parents to buy her a real cello at the age of four, she developed a natural affinity for the instrument and gave her first public performance six months later. At 13, in 1995, she made her professional concert debut, playing Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo” Variations with the Cleveland Orchestra, and in March 1997 she made her first Carnegie Hall appearance with the New York Youth Symphony. A graduate of the Young Artist Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Richard Weiss, Weilerstein also holds a degree in history from Columbia University. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at nine years old, and is a staunch advocate for the T1D community, serving as a consultant for the biotechnology company eGenesis and as a Celebrity Advocate for JDRF, the world leader in T1D research. Born into a musical family, she is the daughter of violinist Donald Weilerstein and pianist Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, and the sister of conductor Joshua Weilerstein.
TUESDAY | FEBRUARY 1 | 7:30 PM | VAN WEZEL
Pianist Emanuel Ax performs Chopin
A favorite of Sarasota audiences, legendary pianist Emanuel Ax performs a program of late Chopin works, including Sonata No. 3, Scherzo No. 4, a selection of nocturnes and mazurkas, and the Polonaise-fantaisie, Op. 61.
“Ax’s playing is always marvelously articulate and totally unfussy. Nothing is done for effect or to draw attention to the player rather than to what he is playing; though his range of touch and keyboard colour is consummately wide, it is never used cosmetically.” ~ The Guardian
“His greatness, his overwhelming authority as musician, technician and probing intellect emerges quickly as he plays. Within minutes, we are totally captured by his intensity and pianistic achievement.” ~ Los Angeles Times
“Mr Ax…played with youthful brio, incisive rhythm, bountiful imagination, delicacy when called for and thundering power when the piano fought back.” ~ The New York Times
“Ax is an extremely satisfying pianist; he is at home in a wide variety of music and his pianism is always thoughtful, lyrical, lustrous.” ~ The Washington Post
Born in modern day Lvov, Poland, Emanuel Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. Mr. Ax made his New York debut in the Young Concert Artists Series, and in 1974 won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. In 1975 he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists, followed four years later by the Avery Fisher Prize.
Highlights of the 2019/20 season included a European summer festivals tour with the Vienna Philharmonic and long-time collaborative partner Bernard Haitink, an Asian tour with the London Symphony and Sir Simon Rattle and three concerts with regular partners Leonidas Kavakos and Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall in March 2020.
Additional recitals and orchestral appearances last spring were postponed due to Covid-19 and like many artists around the world, Mr. Ax responded to these unprecedented circumstances creatively. He hosted “The Legacy of Great Pianists,” part of the online “Live with Carnegie Hall” highlighting legendary pianists who have performed at Carnegie Hall. Last September, he joined cellist Yo-Yo Ma in a series of surprise pop-up concerts for essential workers in multiple venues throughout the Berkshires community.
Mr. Ax has been a Sony Classical exclusive recording artist since 1987, his most recent being Brahms Trios with Yo-Yo Ma and Leonidas Kavakos. He has received GRAMMY® Awards for the second and third volumes of his cycle of Haydn’s piano sonatas. He has also made a series of Grammy-winning recordings with cellist Yo-Yo Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. In the 2004/05 season, Mr. Ax contributed to an International EMMY® Award-Winning BBC documentary commemorating the Holocaust that aired on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In 2013, Mr. Ax’s recording Variations received the Echo Klassik Award for Solo Recording of the Year (19th Century Music/Piano).
Mr. Ax is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Skidmore College, Yale University, and Columbia University.
TUESDAY | FEBRUARY 8 | 7:30 PM | VAN WEZEL
Russian National Orchestra with pianist Alexander Malofeev
Ukrainian conductor Kirill Karabits leads the Moscow-based Orchestra in Beethoven’s Overture to Fidelio and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5. 19-year-old piano sensation Alexander Malofeev joins them for Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
“…one of Russia’s greatest orchestras. The Russian National Orchestra, founded in 1990, has quickly distinguished itself from the abundance of other Russian orchestras to take a place among the world’s leading symphonic ensembles…In this work [Symphonic Dances], all of the orchestra’s virtues came into play. The strings…played with outstanding precision and unity. Winds brought a warmth of tone and phrasing to their music, with effortless virtuosity in the wild riffs that flew around the string melodies. Brass played with rounded, gleaming tones, blending into the ensemble to an unusual degree, without a trace of the raucousness that can sometime attend even top sections.” South Florida Classical Review
The Russian National Orchestra was founded in 1990 by pianist and conductor Mikhail Pletnev. Of its debut at the BBC Proms in London, the Evening Standard wrote, “They played with such captivating beauty that the audience gave an involuntary sigh of pleasure.” The RNO has been described as “a living symbol of the best in Russian art” (Miami Herald) and “as close to perfect as one could hope for” (Trinity Mirror).
Maintaining an active international schedule, the RNO appears in the music capitals of Europe, Asia and the Americas, is a frequent guest at festivals such as Edinburgh, the BBC Proms and Festival Napa Valley, and presents the RNO Grand Festival each September to open the Moscow season.
RNO concerts are often aired on National Public Radio, the European Broadcasting Union, and Russia’s Kultura channel. Their discography, launched with a highly praised 1991 recording of Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique, now numbers more than 80 critically acclaimed recordings. Notable releases include the complete Beethoven symphonies and piano concertos on Deutsche Grammophon, Tchaikovsky’s six symphonies for Pentatone, and the RNO Shostakovich project, also on Pentatone, cited as “the most exciting cycle of the Shostakovich symphonies to be put down on disc, and easily the best recorded” (SACD.net).
Their recording of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Beintus’ Wolf Tracks, conducted by Kent Nagano and narrated by Sophia Loren, Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, received a 2004 Grammy Award, making the RNO the first Russian orchestra to win the recording industry’s highest honor. Their recording of Shostakovich Symphony No. 7, conducted by Paavo Järvi, was awarded the Diapason d’Or de l’Année 2015 as the year’s best symphonic album, and was nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award.
The RNO is unique among the principal Russian ensembles as a private institution funded with the support of individuals, corporations and foundations in Russia and throughout the world.
Kirill Karabits has been Chief Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for 12 years and their relationship has been celebrated worldwide. Together they have made many critically acclaimed recordings, performed regularly at the BBC Proms and last season appeared together at London’s Barbican Centre as part of the Beethoven celebrations.
“Karabits is an inspired architect….He has an energising presence on the podium, without being domineering…he paced the whirlwind finale in a way that brought the house down.” The Telegraph
Karabits has worked with many of the leading ensembles of Europe, Asia and North America, including the Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Chicago Symphony orchestras, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Philharmonia Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Filarmonica del Teatro La Fenice and the BBC Symphony Orchestra – including a concertante version of Bluebeard’s Castle at the Barbican Centre. Kirill enjoys a special relationship with the Russian National Orchestra with whom he returned to the Edinburgh Festival in the 2018-19 season, and more recently embarked on extensive European and North American tours with Mikhail Pletnev which included his New York debut at the Lincoln Center. The 19-20 season saw Kirill debut with the Dallas Symphony as well as return visits to the Minnesota Orchestra and Bamberger Symphoniker.
Highlights of the 2020-21 include his debut with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in London and on tour in Asia and return visits to the Orchestre National Capitole de Toulouse, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Antwerp Symphony Orchestra at the Bozar in Brussels.
He was named Conductor of the Year at the 2013 Royal Philharmonic Society
“The latest phenomenon of the Russian piano school.” Corriere della Sera
“Alexander Malofeev manifests the piano mastery of the new millennium in itself.” Il Giornale
Now aged seventeen, the young “Russian genius” (Corriere della Sera) came to international prominence when, in 2014, he won the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians at age thirteen. “Contrary to what could be expected of a youngster …, he demonstrated not only high technical accuracy but also an incredible maturity. Crystal clear sounds and perfect balance revealed his exceptional ability.” Amadeus
Alexander’s recent and upcoming appearances include a 2019 Asia tour with the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala under Riccardo Chailly, with the Mariinsky Orchestra commemorating in St. Petersburg the 175th anniversary of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and concerts at the Hong Kong Arts Festival and with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo. Alexander Malofeev has performed at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, where he opened the 30th anniversary concert of the renowned Meesterpianisten series, the Teatro alla Scala, Munich Herkulessaal, the Rheingau Musik Festival, Philharmonie de Paris, Théâtre des Champs-Elysees, La Folle Journée de Nantes and La Roque d’Anthéron festivals, Annecy Classic Festival, Merano Music Festival, Peregrinos Musicales, Eilat Chamber Music Festival, the Bunka Kaikan in Tokyo, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, Mariinsky Theatre and the Stars of the White Nights festival in St. Petersburg, at the Bolshoi Theatre and Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory, as well as Kaufman Music Center. He has also appeared at Valery Gergiev’s Mikkeli Music Festival and Yuri Temirkanov’s International Winter Festival Arts Square in St. Petersburg and the Peregrinos Musicales Festival in Santiago de Compostela.
Alexander has appeared with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI di Torino, and the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra, collaborating with conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Spivakov, Alexander Sladkovsky, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Myung-Whun Chung, Alondra de la Parra, Kristjan Jarvi, Kazuki Yamada, and Gábor Takács-Nagy.
In 2016 Alexander Malofeev released his debut recital DVD with works by Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Medtner.
Alexander was born in Moscow in 2001. He is currently a junior student at the renowned Gnessin Institute of Music in Moscow, where he studies with Elena Berezkina. In addition to his 1st prize at the Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians, he has won numerous awards and prizes at international competitions and festivals, including the Grand Prix of the International Competition for Young Pianists Grand Piano Competition, the Premio Giovane Talento Musicale dell’anno 2017 and Best Young Musician of 2017. Also in 2017, Alexander became the first Young Yamaha Artist. He holds scholarships from the New Names Foundation and the Vladimir Spivakov Foundation.
FRIDAY | FEBRUARY 25 | 7:30 PM | RIVERVIEW
Violinist Benjamin Beilman and pianist Alessio Bax
Benjamin Beilman displays his astonishing virtuosity along with international competition-winning pianist Alessio Bax in Busoni’s Sonata No. 2 in E minor, Op. 36a, and Franck’s Violin Sonata in A major.
Benjamin Beilman has won international praise both for his passionate performances and deep rich tone which the Washington Post called “mightily impressive,” and The New York Times described as “muscular with a glint of violence.” The Times has also praised his “handsome technique, burnished sound, and quiet confidence,” and the Strad described his playing as “pure poetry.” A 2018 feature in The Boston Globe remarked that Beilman’s “playing already has its own sure balance of technical command, intensity, and interpretive finesse.”
Highlights of Beilman’s 2020/21 season include engagements with the San Francisco Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, and San Antonio Symphony; debuts with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, Warsaw Philharmonic, Basel Symphony and Staatskapelle Weimar, as well as a return to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Highlights in recent seasons include debuts with the Budapest Festival Orchestra as soloist in the Beethoven Concerto, conducted by Janowski; return engagements with the Philadelphia Orchestra, both at home, and at Carnegie Hall; and his return to the London Chamber Orchestra to play-direct.
In past seasons, Beilman has performed with many major orchestras worldwide including the Chicago Symphony, Antwerp Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Zurich Tonhalle, Sydney Symphony, Houston Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and Minnesota Orchestra, Conductors with whom he works include Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Cristian Măcelaru, Lahav Shani, Karina Canellakis, Edward Gardner, Juraj Valčuha, Han-Na Chang, Elim Chan, Osmo Vänskä, and Giancarlo Guerrero.
In recital and chamber music, Beilman performs regularly at the major halls across the world, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Kölner Philharmonie, Berlin Philharmonie, Wigmore Hall, Louvre (Paris), Bunka Kaikan (Tokyo) and at festivals he has performed at Verbier, Aix-en-Provence Easter, Prague Dvorak, Robeco Summer Concerts (Amsterdam), Music@Menlo, Marlboro and Seattle Chamber Music, amongst others. In early 2018 he premiered a new work dedicated to the political activist Angela Davis written by Frederic Rzewski and commissioned by Music Accord which he has performed extensively across the US.
Beilman studied with Almita and Roland Vamos at the Music Institute of Chicago, Ida Kavafian and Pamela Frank at the Curtis Institute of Music, and Christian Tetzlaff at the Kronberg Academy, and has received many prestigious accolades including a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship, an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a London Music Masters Award. He has an exclusive recording contract with Warner Classics and released his first disc Spectrum for the label in 2016, featuring works by Stravinsky, Janáček and Schubert. Beilman plays the “Engleman” Stradivarius from 1709 generously on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation.
Combining exceptional lyricism and insight with consummate technique, Alessio Bax is without a doubt “among the most remarkable young pianists now before the public” (Gramophone). He catapulted to prominence with First Prize wins at both the Leeds and Hamamatsu International Piano Competitions, and is now a familiar face on five continents, not only as a recitalist and chamber musician, but also as a concerto soloist who has appeared with more than 150 orchestras, including the London, Royal, and St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestras, the Boston, Dallas, Cincinnati, Sydney, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras, and the NHK Symphony in Japan, collaborating with such eminent conductors as Marin Alsop, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Simon Rattle, Yuri Temirkanov, and Jaap van Zweden.
Bax constantly explores many facets of his career. He released his eleventh Signum Classics album, Italian Inspirations, whose program was also the vehicle for his solo recital debut at New York’s 92nd Street Y as well as on tour. He recently embarked on a trio tour of Spain with violinist Joshua Bell and cellist Steven Isserlis. Bax and his regular piano duo partner, Lucille Chung, gave recitals at New York’s Lincoln Center and were featured with the St. Louis Symphony and Stéphane Denève. He has also presented the complete works of Beethoven for cello and piano with cellist Paul Watkins in New York City. Next season he will make his debut with the Milwaukee Symphony, performing Brahms’ second piano concerto and will return for the fourth time for two recitals at the historic Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. This summer is highlighted by his fifth season as Artistic Director of Tuscany’s Incontri in Terra di Siena festival as well as return appearances at the Seattle Chamber Music Festival and at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival with the Dallas Symphony and Fabio Luisi conducting.
Bax revisited Mozart’s K. 491 and K. 595 concertos, as heard on Alessio Bax Plays Mozart, for his recent debuts with the Boston and Melbourne Symphonies, both with Sir Andrew Davis, and with the Sydney Symphony, which he led himself from the keyboard. Other recent highlights include the pianist’s Auckland Philharmonia debut, concerts in Israel, a Japanese tour featuring dates with the Tokyo Symphony, a high-profile U.S. tour with Berlin Philharmonic principal flutist Emmanuel Pahud and an Asian tour with Berlin Philharmonic First Concertmaster Daishin Kashimoto. Recent seasons also saw Bax make his solo recital debut at London’s Wigmore Hall, which aired live on BBC Radio 3, and give concerts at L.A.’s Disney Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, and New York’s Carnegie Hall. In 2009, he was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and four years later he received both the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award and the Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists.
Bax’s celebrated Signum Classics discography includes Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” and “Moonlight” Sonatas (a Gramophone “Editor’s Choice”); Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto; Bax & Chung, a duo disc with Lucille Chung; Alessio Bax plays Mozart, recorded with London’s Southbank Sinfonia; Alessio Bax: Scriabin & Mussorgsky (named “Recording of the Month … and quite possibly … of the year” by MusicWeb International); Alessio Bax plays Brahms (a Gramophone “Critics’ Choice”); Bach Transcribed; and Rachmaninov: Preludes & Melodies (an American Record Guide “Critics’ Choice 2011”). Recorded for Warner Classics, his Baroque Reflections album was also a Gramophone “Editor’s Choice.” He performed Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata for Daniel Barenboim in the PBS-TV documentary Barenboim on Beethoven: Masterclass, available on DVD from EMI.
At age 14, Bax graduated with top honors from the conservatory of Bari, his hometown in Italy, and after further studies in Europe, he moved to the United States in 1994. A Steinway artist, he lives in New York City with pianist Lucille Chung and their daughter, Mila. He was invited to join the piano faculty of Boston’s New England Conservatory in the fall of 2019.
Learn more at https://www.alessiobax.com/
TUESDAY | MARCH 15 | 7:30 PM | RIVERVIEW
Takács Quartet with pianist Joyce Yang
Grammy-nominated pianist Joyce Yang joins the internationally-renowned Takács Quartet in their celebrated return to Sarasota, performing Ravel’s String Quartet and Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat major.
The Takács Quartet, now entering its forty-sixth season, is renowned for the vitality of its interpretations. The Guardian recently commented: “What endures about the Takács Quartet, year after year, is how equally the four players carry the music.”
BBC Music Magazine described their recent Dohnányi recording with pianist Marc André Hamelin as “totally compelling, encapsulating a vast array of colours and textures.”
Based in Boulder at the University of Colorado, Edward Dusinberre, Harumi Rhodes (violins), Richard O’Neill (viola) and András Fejér (cello) perform eighty concerts a year worldwide.
In June 2020 the Takács Quartet was featured in the BBC television series Being Beethoven. The ensemble also released a cd for Hyperion of piano quintets by Amy Beach and Elgar, a fitting way to celebrate Geri Walther’s fifteen years as the Takács’ violist before her retirement from the group.
The members of the quartet welcome Richard O’Neill as their new violist in June and are looking forward to many exciting projects during their first season together. The group will make two recordings for Hyperion, one featuring the last quartets of Haydn, the other pairing two masterpieces from the first decade of the twentieth century: Bartók’s Quartet no. 1 and Alban Berg’s Opus 3. The group continues their role as Associate Artists at London’s Wigmore Hall, performing two concerts there in November and two in May, the latter including Schubert’s Quintet D956 with cellist Adrian Brendel. Other European venues include Vienna, Luxembourg, the Bath Mozartfest, Newcastle, Manchester and Madrid. In August 2021, the quartet will embark on a month long tour of Australia and South Korea.
The Takács performs extensively throughout North America. Highlights of the 2020-2021 season include performances at New York’s White Light Festival, concerts with pianist Jeremy Denk at Stanford, Princeton, Ann Arbor, Boston and Lincoln Center, and performances in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Montreal, Vancouver, Cleveland, Portland and Seattle.
In 2014 the Takács became the first string quartet to be awarded the Wigmore Hall Medal. The Medal, inaugurated in 2007, recognizes major international artists who have a strong association with the Hall. Recipients so far include Andras Schiff, Thomas Quasthoff, Menahem Pressler and Dame Felicity Lott. In 2012, Gramophone announced that the Takács was the only string quartet to be inducted into its first Hall of Fame, along with such legendary artists as Jascha Heifetz, Leonard Bernstein and Dame Janet Baker. The ensemble also won the 2011 Award for Chamber Music and Song presented by the Royal Philharmonic Society in London.
The Takács Quartet performed Philip Roth’s Everyman program with Meryl Streep at Princeton in 2014, and again with her at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto in 2015. The program was conceived in close collaboration with Philip Roth. The Quartet is known for such innovative programming. They first performed Everyman at Carnegie Hall in 2007 with Philip Seymour Hoffman. They have toured 14 cities with the poet Robert Pinsky, collaborate regularly with the Hungarian Folk group Muzsikas, and in 2010 they collaborated with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and David Lawrence Morse on a drama project that explored the composition of Beethoven’s last quartets. Aspects of the quartet’s interests and history are explored in Edward Dusinberre’s book, Beethoven for a Later Age: The Journey of a String Quartet, which takes the reader inside the life of a string quartet, melding music history and memoir as it explores the circumstances surrounding the composition of Beethoven’s quartets.
The Takács records for Hyperion Records, and their releases for that label include string quartets by Haydn, Schubert, Janáček, Smetana, Debussy and Britten, as well as piano quintets by César Franck and Shostakovich (with Marc-André Hamelin), and viola quintets by Brahms (with Lawrence Power). For their CDs on the Decca/London label, the Quartet has won three Gramophone Awards, a Grammy Award, three Japanese Record Academy Awards, Disc of the Year at the inaugural BBC Music Magazine Awards, and Ensemble Album of the Year at the Classical Brits. Full details of all recordings can be found in the Recordings section of the Quartet’s website.
The members of the Takács Quartet are Christoffersen Faculty Fellows at the University of Colorado Boulder. The Quartet has helped to develop a string program with a special emphasis on chamber music, where students work in a nurturing environment designed to help them develop their artistry. Through the university, two of the quartet’s members benefit from the generous loan of instruments from the Drake Instrument Foundation. The members of the Takács are on the faculty at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, where they run an intensive summer string quartet seminar, and Visiting Fellows at the Guildhall School of Music.
The Takács Quartet was formed in 1975 at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest by Gabor Takács-Nagy, Károly Schranz, Gabor Ormai and András Fejér, while all four were students. It first received international attention in 1977, winning First Prize and the Critics’ Prize at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France. The Quartet also won the Gold Medal at the 1978 Portsmouth and Bordeaux Competitions and First Prizes at the Budapest International String Quartet Competition in 1978 and the Bratislava Competition in 1981. The Quartet made its North American debut tour in 1982. In 2001 the members of the the Takács Quartet were awarded the Order of Merit of the Knight’s Cross of the Republic of Hungary, and in March 2011 the Order of Merit Commander’s Cross by the President of the Republic of Hungary.
Blessed with “poetic and sensitive pianism” (Washington Post) and a “wondrous sense of color” (San Francisco Classical Voice), Grammy-nominated pianist Joyce Yang captivates audiences with her virtuosity, lyricism, and interpretive sensitivity.
She first came to international attention in 2005 when she won the silver medal at the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The youngest contestant at 19 years old, she took home two additional awards: Best Performance of Chamber Music (with the Takàcs Quartet), and Best Performance of a New Work. In 2006 Yang made her celebrated New York Philharmonic debut alongside Lorin Maazel at Avery Fisher Hall before joining the orchestra’s tour of Asia, making a triumphant return to her hometown of Seoul, South Korea. Yang’s subsequent appearances with the New York Philharmonic have included opening night of the 2008 Leonard Bernstein Festival – an appearance made at the request of Maazel in his final season as music director. The New York Times pronounced her performance in Bernstein’s The Age of Anxiety a “knockout.”
In the last decade, Yang has blossomed into an “astonishing artist” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung), showcasing her colorful musical personality in solo recitals and collaborations with the world’s top orchestras and chamber musicians through more than 1,000 debuts and re-engagements. She received the 2010 Avery Fisher Career Grant and earned her first Grammy nomination (Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance) for her recording of Franck, Kurtág, Previn & Schumann with violinist Augustin Hadelich. (“One can only sit in misty-eyed amazement at their insightful flair and spontaneity.” – The Strad)
Notable orchestral engagements have included the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the BBC Philharmonic, as well as the Toronto, Vancouver, Sydney, Melbourne, and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras. She was also featured in a five-year Rachmaninoff concerto cycle with Edo de Waart and the Milwaukee Symphony, to which she brought “an enormous palette of colors, and tremendous emotional depth” (Milwaukee Sentinel Journal).
In solo recital, Yang’s innovative program has been praised as “extraordinary” and “kaleidoscopic” (Los Angeles Times). She has performed at New York City’s Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Museum, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Chicago’s Symphony Hall and Zurich’s Tonhalle. In 2018, Musica Viva presented Yang in an extensive recital tour throughout Australia.
As an avid chamber musician, Yang has collaborated with many renowned string quartets, such as the Guarinari, Takács, Emerson, and the Pacifica String Quartets, and has fostered an enduring partnership with the Alexander String Quartet. After releasing two highly celebrated disc of Brahms and Schumann Quintets and the Mozart’s Piano Quartets (“by far, hands down and feet up, the most amazing performances of Mozart’s two piano quartets that have ever graced these ears” Fanfare Magazine), they completed a tour of North America in the 2018/2019 season performing Quintet with Pillars by Samuel Carl Adams, a newly commissioned work composed for the quartet and Yang to celebrate their 10 years of collaboration.
Yang’s wide-ranging discography includes the world premiere recording of Michael Torke’s Piano Concerto, created expressly for Yang and commissioned by the Albany Symphony. Yang has also “demonstrated impressive gifts” (New York Times) with the release of Wild Dreams (Avie Records), on which she plays Schumann, Bartók, Hindemith, Rachmaninoff, and arrangements by Earl Wild. She recorded Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Denmark’s Odense Symphony Orchestra that International Record Review called “hugely enjoyable, beautifully shaped … a performance that marks her out as an enormous talent.” Of her 2011 debut album for Avie Records, Collage, featuring works by Scarlatti, Liebermann, Debussy, Currier, and Schumann, Gramophone praised her “imaginative programming” and “beautifully atmospheric playing.”
In 2019/2020, Yang shares her versatile repertoire in over 70 engagements throughout America and Australia. She appears as soloist with the St. Louis, Dallas, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Pacific, Fort Worth, Utah, Rhode Island, Minas Gerais, New World Symphony and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras among others and presents solo recitals in Boston (Celebrity Series), St. Paul (Chopin Society), and Rochester, NY (Eastman School of Music). As an advocate of new music, she will give a world premier performance with Kansas City Symphony in the fall of 2019 of Jonathan Leshnoff’s Piano Concerto written expressly for her.
Yang is passionate about promoting creative ways to introduce classical music to new audiences. She was the Guest Artistic Director for the 2019 Laguna Beach Music Festival in California, curating concerts that explore the “art-inspires-art” concept – highlighting the relationship between music, literature, and dance while simultaneously curating outreach activities to young students. This season, Yang continues her cross-disciplinary project with the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet with performances of Half/Cut/Split – a “witty, brilliant exploration of Robert Schumann’s Carnaval” (The Santa Fe New Mexican) choreographed by Jorma Elo – a marriage between music and dance to illuminate the ingenuity of Schumann’s musical language.
Born in 1986 in Seoul, South Korea, Yang received her first piano lesson from her aunt at the age of four. She quickly took to the instrument, which she received as a birthday present, and over the next few years won several national piano competitions in her native country. By the age of ten, she entered the School of Music at the Korea National University of Arts, and went on to make a number of concerto and recital appearances in Seoul and Daejeon. In 1997, Yang moved to the United States to begin studies at the pre-college division of The Juilliard School with Dr. Yoheved Kaplinsky. During her first year at Juilliard, Yang won the pre-college division Concerto Competition, resulting in a performance of Haydn’s Keyboard Concerto in D with the Juilliard Pre-College Chamber Orchestra. After winning the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Greenfield Student Competition, she performed Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with that orchestra at just twelve years old. She graduated from Juilliard with the special honor of receiving the school’s 2010 Arthur Rubinstein Prize, and in 2011 she won its 30th Annual William A. Petschek Piano Recital Award.
Yang appears in the film In the Heart of Music, a documentary about the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. She is a Steinway artist.
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