2018 Guest Artist Preview
More To Be Added Soon
Cuban-American soprano Elaine Alvarez burst onto the international opera scene in 2007, making a break-out company debut with her soulful portrayal of Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohème at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Conducted by Sir Andrew Davis and directed by Renata Scotto, critics were unanimous with praise. Characterized by a distinct “buffed bronze soprano” (Opera News), Alvarez has blossomed into a true spinto d’agilitá, delivering performances rich with “melting, voluminous sound” (Frankfurt Allgemeine), “spectacular agility” (Opera World Magazine), and “a profoundly genuine sentimentality” (Miami Herald).
Alvarez made her professional debut in 2006 as Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte for Oper Leipzig. She then returned to the company for the following two seasons as a member of their Resident Ensemble, debuting repertoire that would go on to become signature roles for the young soprano, including first performances of Mimi, Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and a triumphant turn as Magda di Civry in a new production of La Rondine.
Since then, Alvarez has gone on to perform at some of the world’s leading opera houses including Oper Frankfurt, with celebrated performances of La Rondine alongside Joseph Calleja, and Mimi in the company revival of La Bohème; a return to Mimi for Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, Virginia Opera, and Arizona Opera; Micaela in Carmen for Florida Grand Opera as well as the Lyric Opera of Chicago; the title role in Catan’s La Hija de Rappaccini for Gotham Chamber Opera; Contessa Almaviva in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Cleveland; another turn as Magda in La Rondine for Lithuania’s Pazaislis Music Festival; a new production of La Traviata for Theater St. Gallen in Switzerland; La Comtesse de Breville in the world premiere of Stephen Hartke’s The Greater Good for Glimmerglass Opera, commercially released by Naxos Records; and a Bayerische Staatsoper debut as Violetta alongside Jonas Kaufmann and Simon Keenlyside.
On the concert platform, Ms. Alvarez made her New York recital debut in 2007 as a Grand Prize Winner of the Marilyn Horne Foundation Competition. She then appeared as a featured performer for the Horne Foundation’s Annual Gala Concert at Carnegie Hall in 2010, alongside longtime mentor Warren Jones. Other notable concert credits include Mozart’s Mass in C minor with the Gewandhaus Orchestra; a debut recital at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. for The Vocal Arts Society; featured guest artist with the New World Symphony; and a tour of Rossini’s Stabat Mater for the Ravenna Festival with the Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino under the baton of Maestro Riccardo Muti.
Born in Miami, Florida, Ms. Alvarez began her musical studies as a child with her mother Yasmin, a distinguished classical music professor trained in her native Cuba. It was in those early years that Alvarez’s love of classical music would be nurtured and encouraged by her family and the wonderful teachers and mentors who came into her life, most especially Geraldine Suarez-Novak and the late Cuban tenor, Cesar-Antonio Suarez. Alvarez is a graduate of the prestigious New World School of the Arts and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Manhattan School of Music, studying with Joan Patenaude-Yarnell. Further study continued at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy, studying most notably with Marilyn Horne and Renata Scotto. Ms. Alvarez currently studies with Manuel Perez and Anthony Manoli and resides in New York City with her Yorkshire Terrier, Lola the Wonder Pooch.
Taiwanese-American violist Che-Yen Chen has established himself as an active performer and educator. He is a founding member of the Formosa Quartet, recipient of the First-Prize and the Amadeus Prize winner of the 10th London International String Quartet Competition. Since winning the First-Prize in the 2003 William Primrose International Viola Competition and the President Prize of the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, Chen has been described by Strad Magazine as a musician whose “tonal distinction and essential musicality produced an auspicious impression” and by San Diego Union Tribune as an artist whose “most impressive aspect of his playing was his ability to find not just the subtle emotion, but the humanity hidden in the music.”
Having served as principal violist of the San Diego Symphony for eight seasons, he is principal violist of the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra and has appeared as guest principal violist with Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra. A former member of Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society Two and participant of the Marlboro Music Festival, he is a member of Camera Lucida, Concertante Chamber Players and The Myriad Trio, which just released its debut album The Eye of Night. Chamber music festival appearances include the Kingston Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music International, La Jolla Summerfest, Seattle Chamber Music Society and Taiwan Connection. In the summer of 2013, Formosa Quartet inaugurated their Formosa Chamber Music Festival in Hualien, Taiwan.
Currently teaching at both USC Thornton and California State University, Fullerton, Chen has previously served on the faculties of Indiana University South Bend, UC San Diego, San Diego State University and McGill University. He has taught and performed in programs such as National Youth Orchestra Canada, National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra Camp, and Mimir Festival, and has given master-classes at the Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, Longy School of Music, Rice University, University of Tennessee, University of Missouri Kansas City, UC Santa Barbara and various universities in Taiwan. As a laureate, Chen was invited to serve on the jury of the 2011 Primrose International Viola Competition.
A native of Taipei, Chen is a four-time winner of the National Viola Competition in Taiwan. He came to the U.S. in his teens to matriculate at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School, studying with such luminaries as Michael Tree, Joseph de Pasquale, Karen Tuttle and Paul Neubauer.
The Escher String Quartet has received acclaim for its expressive, nuanced performances that combine unusual textural clarity with a rich, blended sound. A former BBC New Generation Artist, the quartet has performed at the BBC Proms at Cadogan Hall and is a regular guest at Wigmore Hall. In its home town of New York, the ensemble serves as Season Artists of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, where it has presented the complete Zemlinsky Quartets Cycle as well as being one of five quartets chosen to collaborate in a complete presentation of Beethoven’s string quartets. Last season, the quartet toured with CMS to China.
Within months of its inception in 2005, the ensemble came to the attention of key musical figures worldwide. Championed by the Emerson Quartet, the Escher Quartet was invited by both Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman to be Quartet in Residence at each artist’s summer festival: the Young Artists Programme at Canada’s National Arts Centre; and the Perlman Chamber Music Programme on Shelter Island, NY. The quartet has since collaborated with artists including David Finckel, Leon Fleischer, Wu Han, Lynn Harrell, Cho Liang Lin, Joshua Bell, Paul Watkins and David Shifrin, as well as jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman, vocalist Kurt Elling, legendary Latin artist Paquito D’Rivera and Grammy award-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux. In 2013, the quartet became one of the very few chamber ensembles to be awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant.
The Escher Quartet has made a distinctive impression throughout Europe, performing at venues such as Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Berlin Konzerthaus, London’s Kings Place, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Slovenian Philharmonic Hall, Auditorium du Louvre and Les Grand Interprètes series in Geneva. With a strong collaborative approach, the group has appeared at festivals such as Heidelberg Spring Festival, Incontri in Terra di Siena Festival, Dublin’s Great Music in Irish Houses, Risør Chamber Music Festival in Norway, Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival and Perth International Arts Festival in Australia.
Currently String Quartet in Residence at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and Tuesday Musical in Akron, Ohio, the quartet fervently supports the education of young musicians and has given masterclasses at institutions such as the Royal Academy of Music in London and Campos do Jordão Music Festival in Brazil.
In Autumn 2016, the quartet released the third and final volume of the complete Mendelssohn Quartets on the BIS label. The set has been received with the highest critical acclaim; Volume II was listed in the Top 10 CDs of 2016 by The Guardian and hailed for its “sheer finesse” by Gramophone, whilst Volume III was nominated for a BBC Music Magazine Award. The quartet has also recorded the complete Zemlinsky String Quartets in two volumes, released on the Naxos label in 2013 and 2014 respectively, to accolades including five stars in The Guardian with “Classical CD of the Year”, a Recommendation in The Strad, and “Recording of the Month” on MusicWeb International.
The Escher Quartet takes its name from Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher, inspired by Escher’s method of interplay between individual components working together to form a whole.
Known for his thrilling performances and musical creativity, Gregorian made his New Recital Hall and his debut as soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra in Symphony Hall in 1997. Since that time he has established himself as one of the most sought-after and versatile musicians of his generation with performances in New York’s Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center and in major metropolitan cities throughout the world including Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Cleveland, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tel Aviv and Helsinki.
Throughout his career, Gregorian has taken an active role as a performer and presenter of chamber music. He is the founder and artistic director of the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival in Greenville, North Carolina, which has recently celebrated its 10th Anniversary Season, and has appeared at festivals worldwide including the SpringLight (Finland), Storioni (Holland), Summer Solstice (Canada), Casals (Puerto Rico), Bard, Bravo! Vail Valley, Santa Fe, Skaneateles, Music in the Vineyards, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Cactus Pear, Wintergreen, Mt. Desert, Madeline Island and Strings in the Mountains Festivals. He has also performed extensively as a member of numerous chamber music ensembles including the Daedalus Quartet, Concertante and the Arcadian Trio and has recorded for National Public Radio, New York’s WQXR radio station, and the Bridge and Kleos labels.
An active and committed teacher, Gregorian has been a member of the violin faculty at East Carolina University since 1998 and has taught at numerous summer festivals and seminars. In addition, he has taken a leading role in creating opportunities for established musicians to perform with talented students in a mentoring setting through the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival’s Next Generation concerts.
Gregorian received his bachelor and master of music degrees from The Juilliard School where he studied with Joseph Fuchs, Harvey Shapiro, and Robert Mann. He performs on a Francesco Ruggeri violin from 1690 and a Grubaugh and Seifert viola from 2006.
Warren Jones enjoys a notably eclectic career that has taken him to virtually every corner of the musical world. He performs with some of today’s best-known artists: Stephanie Blythe, Anthony Dean Griffey, Bo Skovhus, Eric Owens, John Relyea, and Richard “Yongjae” O’Neill—and is the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Principal Pianist for the exciting Santa Barbara-based chamber music group Camerata Pacifica. In the past he has partnered such great performers as Marilyn Horne, Håkan Hagegård, Kathleen Battle, Samuel Ramey, Christine Brewer, Barbara Bonney, Carol Vaness, Judith Blegen, Salvatore Licitra, Tatiana Troyanos, Thomas Hampson, James Morris, and Martti Talvela.
He is a long-time member of the faculty of Manhattan School of Music as well as the Music Academy of the West, and received the Achievement Award for 2011 from the Music Teachers National Association of America, their highest honor.
In 2010, Mr. Jones was selected as Collaborative Pianist of the Year by the publication Musical America. He has been an invited guest at the White House to perform for state dinners in honor of the leaders of Canada, Russia, and Italy; and three times the invited guest of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court for musical afternoons in the East Conference Room at the Court.
A graduate of both New England Conservatory and San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Mr. Jones currently serves on the NEC Board of Visitors and has been honored with the Doctor of Music degree from SFCM. His discography contains thirty-one recordings on every major label in a wide range of repertory.
His conducting repertory is similarly varied: he has led sold-out, critically-acclaimed performances of Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz, Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Mozart’s Die Zauberfloete. In 2014, he conducted the world premiere of a new operatic version of A Christmas Carol at the Houston Grand Opera.
Mr. Jones returned to the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera for performances of Donizetti’s comedy Don Pasquale in the summer of 2015. In February 2016, he led an innovative new production of Menotti’s The Telephone and Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti for Tri-Cities Opera.
Stefan Milenkovich, Violin, Faculty
Awarded as Serbia’s Artist of the Century, Most Humane Person, and Brand Personality of the Year, violinist Stefan Milenkovich enjoys a prolific career as an internationally sought-after soloist and recitalist, with an extraordinary productive longevity, professionalism and creativity.
Milenkovich’s 2016 – 17 season included performances with Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi (Italy), Orchestra Haydn Bolzano (Italy), Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra (Ukraine), Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra (USA), Lake Forest Symphony Orchestra (USA), and Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana (Italy). Recent performances include collaboration with Utah Symphony Orchestra (USA), Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra (USA), Mississippi Symphony Orchestra (USA), Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra (Slovenia), Orchestra I Virtuosi Italiani (Italy), as well as performances with baritone Nathan Gunn (USA) and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard (USA).
Established as one of the great violinists of his generation, Milenkovich appeared on multiple occasions in some of the world’s most celebrated venues such as Carnegie Hall, New York City (USA), Kennedy Center, Washington (USA), Cadogan Hall, London (UK), Suntory Hall, Tokyo (Japan), as well as Italy’s theatres La Fenice, Venice, San Carlo, Naples, and Petruzzelli, Bari. His numerous appearances with orchestra include Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Chamber Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Radio-France, Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, National Orchestra of Belgium, Mexico State Symphony, Orquestra Sinfonica de Estado de Sao Paolo, and the Melbourne and Queensland Symphonies, and has performed under the baton of such conductors as Sir Neville Marriner, Lorin Maazel, Vladimir Fedoseyev, and Daniel Oren.
Milenkovich started his career at a very young age. He performed for U.S. President Ronald Reagan at a Christmas concert in Washington, DC, at age 10. The following year, he played for Mikhail Gorbachev in Belgrade, Serbia. At age 14, he played for Pope John Paul II and at age 16, Milenkovich gave his 1000th concert in Monterrey, Mexico. By age 17, he was the winner of The Young Concert Artists International Competition (USA), as well as a prizewinner in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis (USA), the Queen Elisabeth Competition (Belgium), Hannover Violin Competition (Germany), Tibor Varga Competition (Switzerland), Rodolfo Lipizer Competition (Italy), Paganini Competition (Italy), Ludwig Spohr Competition (Germany), and the Yehudi Menuhin Competition (England).
Deeply committed to international humanitarian causes, in 2002 Milenkovich received the Lifting Up the World With Oneness Heart award for his humanitarian activities, handed to him personally by the guru Sri Chinmoy. He also participated in a number of gala concerts under the auspices of UNESCO in Paris with such artists as Placido Domingo, Lorin Maazel, Alexis Weissenberg, and Sir Yehudi Menuhin, and was active as the first Child Ambassador during the Balkan wars in early 90’.
As a musician of broad stylistic interests, Milenkovich performed with five-time Grammy Nominee rock band Gorillaz in one of the world’s most renowned venues – Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York City. The critically acclaimed performance was featured live on MTV. Recent collaborations include performances with Grammy Award Nominee lutenist Edin Karamazov, as well as a musical partnership with guitarist Vlatko Stefanovski and his trio, where Milenkovich explored the realm of improvisation and acoustic-electric violin.
Milenkovich’s discography includes four commercial releases of the Italian label Dynamic, featuring J. S. Bach Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, Complete Music for Solo Violin – Nicolo Paganini 24 Capricci, N. Paganini Recital, and N. Paganini In cuor piu non mi sento. He also released numerous recordings for the Yugoslavian label, PGP. Milenkovich’s recent CD release includes a First Recording disc with the Manchester Music Festival of Vittorio Giannini’s Piano Trio and Piano Quintet.
Firmly dedicated to pedagogical work, Milenkovich taught in collaboration with Itzhak Perlman at the Juilliard School in New York City, NY, and Perlman Music Program, before accepting his current position as an Associate Professor of Violin at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Milenkovich is still the youngest graduate of the Music Academy in Belgrade, Serbia, finishing his Masters’ studies at 19 years of age, and has completed the Professional Studies program at the Juilliard School in New York City, NY under tutelage of Mrs. Dorothy DeLay.
Milenkovich plays the 1783 Giovanni Battista Guadagnini violin.
Grammy Award nominee Adam Neiman is hailed as one of the premiere pianists, composers, and entrepreneurs of his generation. With a distinguished international career and an encyclopedic repertoire that spans more than sixty concerti, Neiman has performed as soloist with the symphony orchestras of Belgrade, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Saint Louis, San Francisco, Slovenia, Umbria, and Utah, as well as with the New York Chamber Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington D.C. He has collaborated with many of the world’s celebrated conductors, including David Atherton, Jiri Belohlavek, Michael Francis, Giancarlo Guerrero, Theodor Gushlbauer, Carlos Kalmer, Uros Lajovic, Yoël Levi, Andrew Litton, Rossen Milanov, Heichiro Ohyama, Peter Oundjian, Leonard Slatkin, and Emmanuel Villaume.
An acclaimed recitalist, Neiman has performed in most of the major cities and concert halls throughout the United States and Canada. His European solo engagements have brought him to Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan, where he made an eight-city tour culminating in his debut at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall.
Neiman’s multifaceted career includes his recent appointment as the Artistic Director of the Manchester Music Festival in Vermont. In addition, he is the founder and CEO of the record label, Aeolian Classics, LLC, and in 2016 he created the Aeolian Classics Emerging Artist Award Competition, a recording prize bestowed upon an outstanding young artist at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where he serves on the full-time piano faculty.
In recent seasons, Neiman’s activities include several monumental solo recital tours: he is currently presenting the complete Chopin Preludes and Ballades; in 2014-2015 he toured with the complete Preludes and Études-Tableaux by Rachmaninoff, which he recorded for a 2017 triple-disc set on Aeolian Classics; in 2013-2014, Neiman paired Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations and Hammerklavier Sonata, which he subsequently recorded for Sono Luminus, also due for release in 2017; and throughout the 2011-2013 seasons Neiman presented the complete Liszt Transcendental Études in celebration of the Liszt Bi-Centennial.
An avid chamber musician, Neiman makes frequent appearances at prestigious festivals such as the Mainly Mozart Festival, Seattle Chamber Music Festival, Moritzburg Festival, North Shore Chamber Music Festival, Musical Masterworks Series in Connecticut and South Carolina, Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival, Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, and the Manchester Chamber Music Festival. After three seasons as a member of Trio Solisti, Neiman capped his tenure with the ensemble with a presentation of the complete chamber music of Johannes Brahms in a series of three concerts at Carnegie Hall in 2015. Neiman was also a founding member of the Corinthian Trio, which toured extensively throughout the United States and the Balkans.
Neiman maintains an active profile as a composer, and most recently the North Shore Chamber Music Festival commissioned Neiman to compose a new chamber work for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano for the 2017 edition of its annual festival. He will also perform his Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra under the baton of Alastair Willis with the Chicago College of Performing Arts Contemporary Ensemble at Ganz Hall. Neiman’s burgeoning compositional output includes two symphonies, a body of chamber music and vocal works, an orchestral cinematic portfolio, and a growing number of solo piano pieces.
His extensive discography includes numerous solo, concerto, and chamber music albums for labels such as VAI, Bridge, Naxos, Sono Luminus, Lyric, and Aeolian Classics.
Please visit www.adamneiman.com for more information.
Lauded by The New York Times as a “terrific singer” with a “deep, rich timbre” and the San Francisco Chronicle as an “opera powerhouse” with a “weighty and forthright” sound, Sidney Outlaw was the Grand Prize winner of the Concurso Internacional de Canto Montserrat Caballe in 2010 and continues to delight audiences in the U.S. and abroad with his rich and versatile baritone and engaging stage presence. A graduate of the Merola Opera Program and the Gerdine Young Artist Program at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, this rising American baritone from Brevard, North Carolina recently added a Grammy nomination to his list of accomplishments for the Naxos Records recording of Darius Milhaud’s 1922 opera trilogy, L’Orestie d’Eschyle in which he sang the role of Apollo.
Previous seasons for Mr. Outlaw included his Dandini in La Cenerentola with Greensboro Opera, appearances with the Charlotte Symphony, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music and Colour of Music Festivals, his Spoleto Festival debut as Jake in Porgy and Bess, and Madison Opera’s Opera in the Park.
Mr. Outlaw has been a featured recitalist with Warren Jones at Carnegie Hall and performed Elijah with the New York Choral Society. He traveled to Guinea as an Arts Envoy with the U.S. State Department, where he performed a program of American music in honor of Black History Month and in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Mr. Outlaw made his English National Opera debut in the 2011-12 season as Rambo in The Death of Klinghoffer and joined the Metropolitan Opera roster in 2014-2015 also for The Death of Klinghoffer. Recent engagements include Dallapiccola’s Il Prigioniero with the New York Philharmonic, Schaunard in La bohème with the Ash Lawn Festival, and Guglielmo in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte with North Carolina Opera. Other mainstage roles include Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Atlanta Opera, the title role in Moses with the American Symphony Orchestra, Malcolm in Malcolm X at New York City Opera, Prince Yamadori in Madame Butterfly at Opera on the James, the cover of Dandini in La Cenerentola with Florida Grand Opera, Ariodante in Handel’s Xerxes and Demetrius in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the International Vocal Arts Institute, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte and a sensational international debut as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, in both Germany and Israel.
A sought-after concert singer and recitalist, Mr. Outlaw made his Schwabacher Recital debut at the San Francisco Opera center with pianist John Churchwell and collaborates regularly with renowned pianists Warren Jones, Carol Wong, Steven Blier, and Michael Barrett. His concert and recital appearances include debuts of renowned works at major concert halls: Haydn’s The Creation and Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at Avery Fisher Hall, Mahler’s Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen with Music Academy of the West and Wednesday At One at Alice Tully Hall, John Stevens in the world premiere concert of H. Leslie Adam’s opera Blake at the prestigious Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, and the world premiere of Wayne Oquin’s A Time to Break Silence: Songs inspired by the Words and Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., commissioned by The Juilliard School.
Mr. Outlaw won 2nd Prize in the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation’s International Competition, 2nd Prize in the 2011 Gerda Lissner Foundation Awards, National semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, semi- finalist in the Francisco Viñas International Singing Competition, finalist in both Concours International Musical de Montreal and George London Foundation, and grand prize in the Florida Grand Opera/YPO Vocal Competition. He holds a Bachelor in Music Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Master of Vocal Performance from The Julliard School.
In recent years, Vassily Primakov has been hailed as a pianist of world-class importance. Gramophone wrote that “Primakov’s empathy with Chopin’s spirit could hardly be more complete,” and the American Record Guide stated: “Since Gilels, how many pianists have the right touch? In Chopin, no one currently playing sounds as good as this! This is a great Chopin pianist.” Music Web-International called Primakov’s Chopin concertos CD “one of the great Chopin recordings of recent times. These are performances of extraordinary power and beauty.” In 1999, as a teen-aged prizewinner of the Cleveland International Piano Competition, Primakov was praised by Donald Rosenberg of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “How many pianists can make a line sing as the Moscow native did on this occasion? Every poignant phrase took ethereal wing. Elsewhere the music soared with all of the turbulence and poetic vibrancy it possesses. We will be hearing much from this remarkable musician.”
His first piano studies were with his mother, Marina Primakova. He entered Moscow’s Central Special Music School at the age of eleven as a pupil of Vera Gornostaeva, and at 17 came to New York to pursue studies at the Juilliard School with the noted pianist, Jerome Lowenthal. At Juilliard Mr. Primakov won the William Petschek Piano Recital Award, which presented his debut recital at Alice Tully Hall, and while at Juilliard, aided by a Susan W. Rose Career Grant, he won both the Silver Medal and the Audience Prize in the 2002 Gina Bachauer International Artists Piano Competition. Later that year Primakov won First Prize in the 2002 Young Concert Artists (YCA) International Auditions. In 2007 he was named the Classical Recording Foundation’s “Young Artist of the Year.” In 2009, Primakov’s Chopin Mazurkas recording was named “Best of the Year” by National Public Radio and that same year he began recording the 27 Mozart piano concertos in Denmark. BBC Music Magazine (November, 2010) praised the first volume of Primakov’s Mozart concertos: “The piano playing is of exceptional quality: refined, multi-coloured, elegant of phrase and immaculately balanced, both in itself and in relation to the effortlessly stylish orchestra. The rhythm is both shapely and dynamic, the articulation a model of subtlety. By almost every objective criterion, Vassily Primakov is a Mozartian to the manner born, fit to stand as a role model to a new generation.”
Vassily Primakov has released numerous recordings for Bridge Records that include works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Chopin, Dvorak, Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Philip Glass, Arlene Sierra and Poul Ruders.
In 2011, Mr. Primakov, along with his duo partner, Natalia Lavrova established a new and vibrant record company, L.P. Classics, Inc. Their first release was Anton Arensky: Four Suites for Two Pianos. Most recently, they released Primakov’s Live in Concert Album that includes works by Medtner, Schumann, Brahms’ Handel Variations and Ravel’s La Valse. www.lpclassics.net.
Michael Stern has embarked upon his second decade with the Kansas City Symphony, hailed for its remarkable artistic ascent, original programming, organizational development and stability, and the extraordinary growth of its varied audiences since his tenure began. Over the last five seasons, Stern and the orchestra have ushered in a new era and have performed to critical acclaim and sold-out audiences in their performance home, Helzberg Hall at the $413 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
Stern is also the founding artistic director and principal conductor of IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee. This unique group, now in its second decade, has been widely praised for its virtuosity and programming, and has produced a string of recordings and acclaimed commissioned new works by American composers. Other positions include a tenure as the chief conductor of Germany’s Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra (the first American chief conductor in the orchestra’s history) and as Permanent Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for five years, and a stint as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille, France. Stern has led orchestras throughout Europe and Asia, including the Budapest and Vienna radio symphonies, the Helsinki, Israel, London, Moscow and Royal Stockholm philharmonics, London Symphony, National Symphony of Taiwan, Orchestre de Paris and Tokyo’s NHK Symphony, among many others.
In North America, Stern has conducted the Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Indianapolis, National (Washington, D.C.), Montreal, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Seattle and Toronto symphonies, the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, as well as the New York Philharmonic. He also appears regularly at the Aspen Music Festival and has served on the faculty of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen.
Stern received his music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf. Stern co-edited the third edition of Rudolf’s famous textbook, “The Grammar of Conducting,” and also edited a new volume of Rudolf’s collected writings and correspondence. He is a 1981 graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American history.
The first German artist to ever win the international Naumburg Violin Award in New York, Axel Strauss has been equally acclaimed for his virtuosity and his musical sensitivity. The Salt Lake Tribune praised his well-rounded artistry by saying, “Strauss quickly established that he is a virtuoso to be reckoned with. But amid his technical acumen, there was a genuine musician. His interpretive prowess was delightful.”
Mr. Strauss made his American debut at the Library of Congress in Washington DC and his New York debut at Alice Tully Hall in 1998. Since then he has given recitals in major North American cities, including Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 2007 he was the violinist in the world premiere of Two Awakenings and a Double Lullaby – written for him by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis.
Mr. Strauss has performed as soloist with major orchestras in North America, Europe and Asia and has collaborated with conductors such as Maxim Shostakovitch, Rico Saccani, Joseph Silverstein, and Alasdair Neale. Mr. Strauss has also served as guest concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic as well as the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
His recordings include the Brahms violin concerto (BPOlive), the violin version of the Sonatas Opus 120 by Brahms (Organum) and the Duo for Violin and Cello by Kodaly (Oehms Classics). For the Naxos label he has recorded a selection from Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words, the 24 Caprices for solo violin by Pierre Rode, the last three violin concertos by Rodolphe Kreutzer and the complete works for violin and piano by George Enescu. Amadeus Press has issued a DVD featuring Axel Strauss in concert at Steinway Hall in New York City.
Mr. Strauss frequently performs at various music festivals in the US. Festival visits abroad have taken him to Germany, India, Korea and Japan. His chamber music partners have included Menahem Pressler, Kim Kashkashian, Joel Krosnick, Robert Mann and Bernhard Greenhouse.
Since his European debut in Hamburg in 1988, Axel Strauss has been heard on concert stages throughout Europe. He has given concerts in Moscow, Vilnius, Berlin, Bremen, Leipzig and Nuremberg. Concert tours have taken him to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Romania. He has also toured South America and performed in Japan with the Philharmonic Violins Berlin.
At the age of seventeen he won the silver medal at the Enescu Competition in Romania and has been recognized with many other awards, including top prizes in the Bach, Wieniawski and Kocian competitions. Mr. Strauss studied at the Music Academies of Lübeck and Rostock with Petru Munteanu. In 1996 he began working with the late Dorothy DeLay at The Juilliard School and became her teaching assistant in 1998. He has also worked with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Felix Galimir, and Ruggiero Ricci, and at the Marlboro Music Festival with Richard Goode, Mitsuko Uchida and Andras Schiff. Mr. Strauss has been residing in the United States since 1996. He maintains a busy performance schedule and serves as Professor of Violin at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montreal. Before moving to Canada he was Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Noted for her “commanding and dramatic presence” (Opera News), mezzo-soprano Renée Tatum is rapidly gaining critical acclaim on the most prestigious opera stages in the United States. This season’s engagements include Flosshilde in Das Rheingold with Tanglewood Music Festival; Flosshilde in Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung and Waltraute in Die Walküre with San Francisco Opera; Jenny in Threepenny Opera with Boston Lyric Opera; Flower Maiden in Parsifal at The Metropolitan Opera; soloist in Penderecki’s Credo with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; and Ensemble for the Romantic Century’s production of Van Gogh’s Ear at The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York City. She also sings a concert entitled “Opera Italiana Forever Young” as part of the Central Park Summer Concerts series and Das Rheingold in concert with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center.
Last season, Tatum performed Flosshilde in Das Rheingold at the National Taichung Theatre and in Götterdämmerung in a return to Houston Grand Opera; Olga in Eugene Onegin with Boston Youth Symphony; Händel’s Messiah with Pacific Symphony; Beethoven’s Missa solemnis with Pacific Chorale; Mozart’s Requiem with Omaha Symphony and Rochester Philharmonic; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with San Diego Symphony.
A recent alumna of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Miss Tatum made her Metropolitan Opera début as Inez in Il trovatore conducted by Marco Armiliato. Additional performances at the prestigious house include Second Lady in Die Zauberflöteconducted by Jane Glover, Second Woodsprite in Rusalka led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Unborn in Die Frau ohne Schatten with Vladimir Jurowski, Emilia in Otello under the baton of Semyon Bychkov, Adonella in Zandonai’s seldom heard Francesca da Rimini conducted by Marco Armiliato, Fenena in Nabucco with Paolo Carignani, and Flosshilde in Robert Lepage’s landmark production of Der Ring des Nibelungen conducted by Fabio Luisi.
Earlier in her career, Tatum was also featured as Háta in Smetana’s The Bartered Bride in a new production by Stephen Wadsworth, led by James Levine, in a collaboration between The Metropolitan Opera and the Juilliard School, and in the roles of Flosshilde and Grimgerde in San Francisco Opera’s Der Ring des Nibelungen conducted by Donald Runnicles. Other performances include La Haine in Gluck’s Armide in a co-production between the Metropolitan Opera and the Juilliard School and the role of Medea in Händel’s Teseo with Chicago Opera Theater. As an Adler Fellow, her San Francisco Opera performances included Inez in Il trovatore, Annina in La traviata, and Emilia in Otello.
She performed Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte with the Santa Fe Opera conducted by Lawrence Renes and in a new production at San Francisco Opera led by Rory Macdonald, Amando in Ligeti’s Le grand macabre with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Alan Gilbert, and The Secretary in Menotti’s The Consul with Chautauqua Opera.
Ms. Tatum is a winner of the 2011 Gerda Lissner Foundation Competition, a finalist of the 2011 George London Foundation Competition, 2010 Grand Prize Winner of The Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation Competition, The Opera Index Competition, The Jensen Foundation Award from Chautauqua Opera, and two-time recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant. A Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Ms. Tatum holds degrees from The Juilliard School and The Manhattan School of Music. Ms. Tatum’s discography includes the DVD releases of The Metropolitan Opera LIVE: in HD broadcasts of Otello and Rusalka, as well as a recording of Le grand macabre with The New York Philharmonic.
Cellist Bion Tsang has been internationally recognized as one of the outstanding instrumentalists of his generation: among his many honors are an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Bronze Medal in the IX International Tchaikovsky Competition and a Grammy nomination for his performances on Conspirare in Concert. He has performed as soloist with such orchestras as the New York, Moscow and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestras, the Atlanta, Pacific, Civic, American and National Symphony Orchestras, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Saint Paul and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestras, the
Mr. Tsang’s chamber music career has also been a distinguished one, marked by collaborations with such artists as violinists Pamela Frank, Jaime Laredo, Cho-Liang Lin, Anne Akiko Meyers and Kyoko Takezawa and Chee Yun, violist Michael Tree, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bassist Gary Karr and pianist Leon Fleisher. He has been a frequent guest artist of the Chamber Music Societies of Boston, Brooklyn and Fort Worth, Chamber Music International of Dallas, Da Camera of Houston, Camerata Pacifica of Los Angeles and Bargemusic in New York and performed at such festivals as Marlboro Music Festival, the Cape Cod, Tucson, Portland and Seattle Chamber Music Festivals, the Bard Festival, Bravo! Colorado, Music in the Vineyards and the Laurel Festival of the Arts, where he served as Artistic Director for ten years.
Mr. Tsang has toured the complete Beethoven works for cello and piano with pianist Anton Nel in, among other venues, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall and Jordan Hall in Boston, with the latter performance recorded by WGBH and commercially released on the Artek label. Artek subsequently released Tsang’s performance of the Brahms Cello Sonatas and Hungarian Dances (transcribed by Tsang), also in Jordan Hall with Nel, in early 2010.
Mr. Tsang received his B.A. from Harvard University and his M.M.A. from Yale University, where he studied with Aldo Parisot. His other cello teachers included Ardyth Alton, Luis Garcia-Renart, William Pleeth, Channing Robbins and Leonard Rose.
Mr. Tsang resides in Austin, Texas, where he is the first holder of the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long Chair in Cello at the UT Butler School of Music and enjoys chasing after his three young children: Bailey, Henry and Maia.
Australian-Chinese tenor Kang Wang is a third year member of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Metropolitan Opera, where he made his house and role debut as Narraboth in a new production of Salome and also performed the role of First Prisoner in Beethoven’s Fidelio with the company.
In 2011, Mr. Wang made his operatic debut as Rinuccio in Queensland Conservatorium’s production of Gianni Schicchi, where he also performed the title role Tom Rakewell in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. He performed the role of Nemorino in RNCM’s production of L’elisir d’amore by Donizetti in December of 2013, as well as the role of Don José in La Tragedie de Carmen at the International Vocal Arts Institute-Virginia in June of 2014.
In the 2017-2018 season, Mr. Wang made an exciting last-minute debut in Moscow, replacing tenor Jonas Kaufmann in a New Year’s Eve Gala performance of opera arias with orchestra, and staying on to perform a solo recital of song repertoire in the Grand Hall of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. On the opera stage, he will sing the role of Mitrane in Rossini’s Semiramide at the MET, where he will also cover both the role of Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor and tenor soloist in Verdi’s Requiem. In addition, he will sing Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the London Philharmonic, as well as Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the San Antonio Symphony.
Additional highlights of recent seasons include the MET Summer Recital Series in various New York City parks, Elvino in La Sonnambula in a co-production with the Lindemann Program and the Juilliard School, and a program of opera scenes conducted by James Levine. In the 2014-15 season Mr. Wang was a member of the opera studio of the Theater Basel in Switzerland, performing such roles as Nathanael in Les Contes d’Hoffmann and the Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia. He has appeared as a guest soloist in over 20 concerts with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and numerous concerts with Opera Queensland.
A favorite of competitions, Mr. Wang was a finalist in the 2017 Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. He has previously won the People’s Choice Award in the Dame Joan Sutherland National Vocal Award and performed in the final concert of the Australian Singing Competition at the Sydney Opera House as one of the five finalists. In 2016, he was a semi-finalist in the Operalia Competition in Guadalajara, Mexico, and won 2nd place as well as the People’s Choice Award of the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition. He has also been a semi-finalist in the Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Vienna, Austria, a finalist in the McDonald Operatic Aria Competition and a finalist Italian Opera Foundation Australia Scholarship. Mr. Wang is the winner of the 2014 Clonter Opera Prize in the United Kingdom.
Originally from Harbin, China, Mr. Wang is the son of two renowned opera singers. He received an International Artist Diploma at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, United Kingdom, and a Master’s of Music from the Queensland Conservatorium at Griffith University in Australia.