Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Virtuoso Teenagers Zoie Hightower and Braden McConnell This Week

This week:

Tuesday 6/4 8:30PM Classical Revolution at Starbucks
Wednesday 6/25 7:30 PM Violinist Zoie Hightower and Cellist Braden McConnell at Gobin

Last week's events with Taka Kigawa were terrific. Both Taka and I were delighted that 25 people came back to hear him perform the complete piano music of Pierre Boulez on Thursday night. It was a deeply engaging experience for those of us there, and I am so proud that we are able to present an artist, and an event, that is a big deal in New York, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, etc. 

In addition to presenting well-established performers, we also are delighted to bring "rising stars" to Greencastle. 

One of last summer's most exciting and inspiring concerts was performed by teenaged cellists Braden McConnell and Gabe Martins. It was electrifying. I'm probably not the only one who imagined that what we experienced was what it must be like to watch young, medal-winning Olympians.

Since then, Braden has shown himself to be a true Olympian of the cello: he went and won the David Popper Competition in Hungary. He's back this week, bringing us his gold-medal performance of Popper's Hungarian Rhapsody as well as the Shostakovich Cello Sonata. Gabe is out of the country for a competition, but our friends at the Indiana University String Academy have sent violinist Zoie Hightower, who is making a big name for herself in the violin world. She'll be playing the Romance by Dvorak and the wonderful violin sonata by Cesar Franck.  

Zoie Hightower is an accomplished 17 year-old violinist and violist, performing in ensembles and as a soloist in Europe, South America and the United States. She has performed in master classes taught by such renowned artists as Gilles Apap, Mark Kaplan, Mauricio Fuks, David Chan, Stephen Shipps, Mihaela Martin, and Atar Arad. As a soloist, Zoie has been privileged to perform in concert halls in Denmark, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina and throughout the United States, including a performance at Carnegie Hall in 2013 with the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Virtuosi. As a violist, Zoie received second prize in the 2012 Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Summer String Academy Viola Concerto Competition. As a violinist, in 2013 she won first prize in the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Side-by-Side concerto competition, which culminated in a featured solo performance with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Already in 2014, Zoie has received Honorable Mention in the New World Concerto Competition, was selected Concertmaster in the 2014 Indianapolis Symphony’s Side-by-Side and was selected as a finalist of the prestigious Mauer Young Artist’s Competition. In addition to Zoie’s passion for music, she enjoys softball and in 2012 was named Most Valuable Player of her fast-pitched softball team in Bloomington.

Braden McConnell, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, studies cello with Susan Moses at the Indiana University String Academy. Accepted into the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra at age 11, Braden was its youngest musician. Braden toured Boston with the orchestra and performed in numerous side-by side concerts with The Cleveland Orchestra. In the summer of 2012, he became the youngest musician to have ever participated in Harbor Music: The Artur Balsam Ensemble Classes in Prospect Harbor, Maine. He has played in master classes for Janos Starker, Aldo Parisot, Joshua Bell, Paul Katz, Ralph Kirshbaum, Csaba Onczay, Ida Kavafian, Sylvia Rosenberg, Desmond Hoebig, Atar Arad, Daniel Morganstern, and Amir Eldan. In October 2013, Braden traveled to Hungary and won a first prize in the  David Popper International Cello Competition. He has also won first prizes in the  Cleveland Cello Society’s Scholarship Competition and the Sigma Alpha Iota Competition. In the summer of 2013  he toured Brazil and Argentina with the Indiana University Violin Virtuosi, directed by Mimi Zweig, and with them has performed with Augustin Hadelich, David Chan, and at Carnegie Hall with Giles Apap. In December of 2013, he reappeared at Carnegie Hall twice as a part of the New York String Orchestra Seminar, performing alongside Leon Fleisher. A National Merit Scholar, Braden will be attending the University of Michigan on a Stamps Scholarship, the university's most prestigious academic award, to study cello with Richard Aaron in the fall of 2014.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Acclaimed Pianist Taka Kigawa: Starbucks Tuesday, Gobin Wednesday

We have two events this coming week with the extraordinary pianist Taka Kigawa, whom the New York Times has called a "daredevil" who plays with "virtuosity and passionate flair."

Tuesday June 17 8:30-9:30 PM:  Informal concert and discussion at "Classical Revolution" in the Greencastle Starbucks.
  • Admission free
  • FREE drinks for the first 10 students to arrive
  • Taka will play and we'll talk with him about his life and career
Wednesday June 18 7:30 PM: Greencastle Summer Music Festival at Gobin Memorial UMC
  • J.S. Bach: Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Keyboard (with Eric Edberg, cello)
  • Pierre Boulez: Douze Notations
  • Frederic Chopin: Preludes, Op. 28
  • Admission Free
Taka has been touring internationally performing the complete piano music of legendary composer Pierre Boulez. While he's visiting us he'll be going down to Louisville to record a program about this music for WUOL. For us he'll be playing the "Douze Notations" by Boulez, which last about nine minutes, as well as the Chopin Preludes.

He's an amazing musician who has performed more than any other classical artist at the hottest venue in New York, [le] poisson rouge, the multi-media arts cabaret ("serving art and alcohol") in New York's Greenwich Village.

Here he is performing Chopin's No. 13 in F-sharp Major (one of the pieces he'll play for us) in a 2012 sold-out performance at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York:

Taka Kigawa has earned outstanding international recognition as a recitalist, soloist, and chamber music artist since winning First Prize in the prestigious 1990 Japan Music Foundation Piano Competition in Tokyo, and the Diploma Prize at the 1998 Concurs Internacional Maria Canals De Barcelona in Spain.

The New York Times wrote about his performance of the Boulez Third Sonata, “Mr. Kigawa’s feat deserves the highest praise, especially since it was combined with such alacrity and sensitivity to the musical material. Brilliantly done, a careful and serious-minded musician, quietly poetic and considerate.” The New Yorker said he played an “[u]nbelievably challenging program. Kigawa is a young artist of stature.”

Kigawa's New York City recital in 2010 was chosen as one of the best concerts of the year by The New York Times, and his New York City recital in August 2011 was picked as one of the most notable concerts in the first half of the 2011-2012 season by Musical America. He has performed extensively as a recitalist and soloist in New York, Washington DC, Boston, Cleveland, Paris, Milan and Barcelona, with appearances in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Kosciuszko Foundation, Severance Hall in Cleveland, Cité de la Musique, and Salle Gaveau in Paris, and Plau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona.

He frequently tours in his native Japan, appearing in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagano and Kyoto, both as a recitalist and a soloist with orchestra and in chamber music groups. He has performed with such distinguished institution as The Cleveland Orchestra. He has been a featured artist on many television and radio networks throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.

His repertoire is extremely large and varied, ranging from the baroque to avant-garde compositions of today. He has collaborated closely with such renowned musicians as Pierre Boulez, Myung-Whun Chung and Jonathan Nott. Mr. Kigawa grew up in Nagano, Japan, where he began piano studies at the age of three, winning his first competition at the age of seven. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Shinsyu University, and his Master of Arts degree from Tokyo Gakugei (Liberal Arts) University, graduating with honors in Piano Performance. During both his undergraduate and graduate years, he also studied composition and conducting, receiving high honors in both disciplines. He furthered his studies in the United States at The Juilliard School in New York, where he earned his Master of Music degree. Mr. Kigawa currently lives in New York, USA.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Fernando Otero Opens 2014 Festival Tuesday at Starbucks and Wednesday at Gobin

2014 Opening Events!
Tuesday 8:15-9:15 pm: Eli's Books/Starbucks: informal music and discussion
Wednesday 7:30 pm: Kissinger Family Concert at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church

Grammy-winning pianist Fernando Otero, whose October concert on the Green Guest Artists Concerts at DePauw filled Kresge Auditorium, returns to Greencastle to open the tenth season of the Greencastle Summer Music Festival. Otero, who has been hailed by the New York Times for his “brilliant playing” of original music that combines elements of tango, jazz, and classical music, will be joined by the festival’s founding artistic director, cellist Eric Edberg, in free events 8:15 PM Tuesday at Starbucks and 7:30 PM Wednesday in the sanctuary of Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church for the Kissinger Family Concert.

All festival events are free and open to the public, supported by donations from individuals, local businesses (including the Inn at DePauw), and an endowment established at the Putnam County Community Foundation by Joanne Kissinger and her family, in memory of her husband Paul. Wednesday’s concert honors the Kissinger family for their leadership and vision.

“I’m tremendously excited to have Fernando back to perform as a solo pianist,” says Edberg, the newly appointed Cassel Grubb University Professor of Music at DePauw. “I met him when I attended several electrifying performances of his in New York. I’m thrilled that he accepted my invitation to return, and that he’s asked me to perform several of his pieces for cello and piano with him--they are gorgeous! He's just returned from tours of Germany and Italy, and was very gracious about working Greencastle into his schedule."

On Tuesday at 8:15 PM in Starbucks, Otero and Edberg will give a preview of the music to be performed Wednesday night at Gobin. “Last year we did two events at Starbucks, primarily as a way of reaching out to teenagers and college students. They were a big success, and so we decided to do one every week. We will play some of the music from Wednesday’s program, and talk with and answer questions from members of the community. The festival motto is ‘bringing the community together with friends making music for friends,’ and this is a great time for people to get to know our new friend Fernando in a relaxed setting--and to get an autograph.”

Otero and Edberg will play a full concert on Wednesday at 7:30 PM in Gobin, with a reception to follow. A large crowd is expected, so come early to get a good seat.

Argentinian pianist/composer Fernando Otero found his voice as writer, musician and bandleader when, at the urging of one of his music teachers, he began to incorporate the indigenous sounds of his native Buenos Aires into his work. …"A unique and provocative style developed, which combined the improvisatory thrill of jazz with a contemporary classical structure in compositions that were often fast–paced and intense, full of dramatic stops and starts" (BBC London 2007).

Otero first gained prominence in 2000 with his debut and eponymous album, a collection of pieces recorded in Buenos Aires in the early 90's, before moving his residence to New York. Afterwards he released "Chamber Music", "Siderata", "Plan", "Revision", "Expansion" and in 2008 his acclaimed debut album on Nonesuch Records: "Pagina de Buenos Aires" . After the release of "Material" in 2009 by Warner Music, with his new album entitled "Vital" (Harmonia Mundi), he won the Latin Grammy for Best Classical album in 2010.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

2014 Schedule

We've got a terrific lineup this summer! In addition the the Wednesday events listed below, that week's artist(s) will appear at the Greencastle Starbucks at 8:15pm on Tuesday. 

May 28: Latin Grammy Winner Pianist Fernando Otero Fernando was a hit at the opening concert of DePauw’s Green Guest Artist Series. He’ll play his original tango/classical solo piano music and be joined by Festival founder/artistic director Eric Edberg for several pieces in our opening Kissinger Family Concert. www.fernandootero.com

June 4:  Violinist Areta Zhulla and pianist Pianist Eugenio Urrutia Named the 2011 “Artist of the Year” by the National Critics Association of Music and Drama in Greece, Areta has established an international career and performs with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She joins festival favorite Urrutia in for an evening of violin and piano music. www.aretazhulla.com.

June 11: DePauw Faculty members Claude Cymerman, piano, and Eric Edberg, cello Cymerman has been a beloved musical treasure in Greencastle for over 30 years. He joins Eric in a program of music by Richard Strauss, including the cello sonata and original transcriptions of songs. www.ericedberg.com

June 18: Pianist Taka Kigawa Hailed as an “extraordinary pianist” by the New York Times, last summer Taka drew the largest audience we’ve ever had. He’s been concertizing all over the world and we look forward to his return.  www.takakigawa.com

June 25: Young Prodigies Violinist Zoie Hightower and Cellist Braden McConnell Zoie and Braden are teenage prodigies who study at the Indiana University String Academy.

July 2: A Tribute to Pete Seeger Prepare for the Fourth of July as we present Linda Hicks, Sharon McKnight, Bobbie Lancaster and Tad Robinson  performing music by this great legend of American folk music. There will be sing-alongs!

July 9: Chicago’s Fifth House Ensemble These ground-breaking musicians have become part of the Putnam County community this year as they’ve prepared Harvest, a special DePauw event celebrating our region. Two of them return to Greencastle to join Eric Edberg.  Cosponsored by the DePauw School of Music. www.fifth-house.com

July 16: Pianist John Kamfonas Classical/rock/improvising pianist was one of our most popular performers in his 2012 and 2011 appearances. He’s been traveling the world and will tell us about his adventures.

July 23: Violinist Allison Edberg Nyquist, Soprano Barbara Paré, and Pianist Tony Weinstein

July 30: DePauw Faculty Nicole Brockmann, viola and Darcy McCoy, piano

August 6: Vocalists Steven Linville and Amy Elaine Hayes One of the biggest hits of our 2013 season, Amy and Steven of the Indianapolis-based Intimate Opera return by popular demand to present another varied and entertaining program.

August 13: Electric/Jazz Violinist Cathy Morris One of the most popular performers in the region, Cathy is a classical and jazz violinist with a huge following. www.cathymorris.com

August 20: Stars of the DePauw School of Music The top returning students of the DePauw School of Music will perform a varied program as we celebrate the end of summer and the start of the school year.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Poetry, Music, and Friendship: Join Us for Our Final Summer Concert of 2013

The 2013 summer season's final concert is upon us!

We're featuring
  • a flute and cello sonata by the great Baroque composer Georg Phillip Telemann
  • poetry by Greencastle's own Joe Heithaus, who will also read poems by the great Persian mystic Jelaluddin Rumi (in extraordinary translations by Coleman Barks)
  • the Indiana premiere of Chris Lastovicka's hauntingly beautiful "When Words Fail"
  • and to end the evening, a terrific flute, cello, and piano trio by the best composer you've probably never heard of: Lousie Farrenc, a renowned pianist and composer in the 19th century.  
Joining me in this final "friends making music for friends" concert is the flutist Akal Dev Sharonne, who has been my friend and colleague for nearly twenty years.  Akal Dev has started at least four concert series in three states--and it was her example that inspired me to start our summer festival here.  

John Clodfelter, my DePauw colleague whom I've known twenty years or so since he was a student at DePauw, will join Akal Dev and me for the Lastovicka and Farrenc works.  And Joe?  Well, who doesn't love Joe?  His poetry is as touching and insightful as he is a wise, warm, and delightfully human human being.  

What a delight it is for me to bring these three friends of mine to perform together for the first time.  Come join us for this final concert of the 2013 summer season!


Monday, August 12, 2013

May Phang Takes Us Time Traveling Wednesday

We've had some fantastic pianists this summer, but none more fantastic than our own May Phang.  (If you haven't already experienced for yourself just how fantastic an artist she is, listen to her online performances.)

If there's anything I've learned over the nine summers of organizing these concerts, it is how fortunate we are to have so many world-class musicians based right here in Greencastle. It really is an extraordinary thing!

And this Wednesday (August 14, at 7:30 PM in Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church), you can hear May perform a program she's calling "Timeless Treasures."

It features the world premiere of "Time Travel Phantasie" by Sy Brandon; transcriptions of compositions by Richard Wagner by his father-in-law, Franz Liszt and also Louis Brassin; and some other virtuoso "timeless treasures," including arrangements of three Stephen Foster tunes.  

It's going to be another fantastic evening.  

May Phang has given numerous solo recitals and chamber music concerts in Singapore, Canada, the United States, and Europe, performing in venues such as the Goethe Institute in Singapore, Victoria Concert Hall, Singapore Conference Hall, Chapelle historique du Bon Pasteur and Place-des-Arts in Montreal, the Concertgebouw, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kennedy Center for the Arts and National Gallery in Washington DC, the Chicago Cultural Center, and at festivals such as the Singapore Festival of Arts, the Montreal International Piano Festival, and the Karol Szymanowski Festival in Zakopane, Poland.

A prizewinner of several competitions including the Chopin Young Pianists' Competition in Buffalo NY, Canadian Music Competition, Concours d'orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and Pontoise International Young Artists Competition in France, Dr. Phang has performed with orchestras such as the Banff Chamber Players, Singapore Symphony, Montreal Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Radio and television appearances include profiles on Singapore Broadcasting Corporation's "Life and Times" and "Arts Around" and broadcasts on Radio-Canada, Vermont Public Radio, WFLN, Philadelphia and WFMT, Chicago. An active music educator, she is a teaching artist of Young Audiences of Indiana, the state's oldest & largest provider of professional arts education programs for children. She has adjudicated competitions for the Waukesha Symphony and PianoArts of Wisconsin, presented masterclasses at institutions including Idyllwild and Interlochen, and given presentations for music teachers' associations. 

May Phang began piano studies in her native Singapore where she obtained her Associate and Licentiate diplomas from the Trinity College of Music (London) by the age of twelve. A graduate of McGill University in Canada, she obtained her doctorate from Temple University in Philadelphia. Currently Assistant Professor of Piano at DePauw University, Indiana, her prior teaching positions include Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee. She is represented by Great Lakes Performing Artists Associates, and has served on the faculty of the DePauw University School of Music since 2003. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Meet the Euclid Quartet Members

The Euclid Quartet is a truly international group--each young man was born in a different country.  While all four have received extensive training in the United States, their diversity of background brings a unique freshness and energy to their music making.  

Here are their individual biographies.

Jameson Cooper, originally from Sheffield, England, began playing the violin at
age 6.  At 13 he joined the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and later
became concertmaster of the National Youth Chamber Orchestra.  He studied with
Malcolm Layfield and Wen Zhou Li at The Royal Northern College of Music, where
he earned a Graduate of Music Degree with Honors and a Professional Performance
Diploma.  Mr. Cooper first came to the U.S. as a participant in the Aspen Music
Festival.  Since then, he has studied with Dorothy DeLay, Masao Kawasaki, and
Roland and Almita Vamos.  He earned Masters Degrees in Violin and Conducting
from Kent State University, where he later served as Assistant Professor of Violin and
Viola at the University's Hugh A. Glauser School of Music.  He has performed as
soloist with orchestra, recitalist, and chamber musician throughout the U.S. and
Europe.  In the 2001-02 season, Jameson played in the Audubon Quartet in its
Beethoven Quartet cycle series.

Recipient of numerous prizes, including the Prince's Trust Award, and first prize in the
Tuesday Musical Club of Akron and Kent State University Concerto Competitions, Mr.
Cooper has also recorded Icelandic music for Musart, and new music by Kent State
University composers on Innova.  Jameson has given masterclasses at Virginia Tech,
Michigan State University, and Morningside College, and is a former faculty member
of the Lyceum Music School of Oldham, England.

A founding member of the Euclid Quartet, Jacob Murphy hails from Fresno,
California.  He began his violin studies at the age of 6, and soon earned acclaim as
soloist with the Kings Symphony Orchestra and the Fresno Youth Philharmonic
Orchestra.  He was also a recipient of the Fresno Arts Council Horizon Award for
Outstanding Contribution to the Arts.

Mr. Murphy continued his studies at the Eastman School of Music, where he received
his B.M. in 1998.  He then attended Kent State University as a graduate assistant,
where he received his M.M. in 2000.  His principal teachers included Charles
Castleman, Gregory Fulkerson, Camilla Wicks, and Claudia Shiuh.  He attended such
festivals as the Heidelberg (Germany) Castle Festival, the Quartet Program at
Bucknell University, Aspen Music Festival, National Orchestral Institute, and the
Orford Arts Centre.

On top of being an accomplished quartet musician, Mr. Murphy has made a point
of gaining knowledge and expertise in all styles of classical music.  He has
performed with a baroque period performance ensemble, which was led by the
famous lutenist Paul O'Dette.  On the other side of the spectrum, Jacob has also
been involved with several new music ensembles, and has recorded contemporary
music for the Innova label.

Luis Enrique Vargas, violist, is a native of Barquisimeto, Venezuela.  He began
viola lessons at age 14, studying at the Vicente Emilio Sojo and the Simon Bolivar
Conservatories of Music in Venezuela.  Throughout his career, Mr. Vargas has studied
with many internationally known musicians.  Among them are Jose Manuel Roman,
Richard Young, Gerard Causee, Li-Kuo Chang, James Dunham, Michael Tree, Earl
Carlyss, and the Vermeer and Emerson string quartets.

In his native land, he was an active performer and educator and was part of the 
internationally acclaimed “Sistema” of the Venezuelan National Youth Orchestra, 
collaborating with its expansion and educative mission in remote regions of Venezuela.  
He was a member of the Venezuelan Lara State and the Simon Bolivar Symphony 
Orchestras.  He toured to Brazil, Spain, and France, performing at the Festival de la 
Radio France et Montpellier in 1993.  With the Simon Bolivar Orchestra he performed 
in Paris in 1995 at the UNESCO and at the Sorbonne University, and in Madrid at the 
Bela Bartok Concert Series.  Also with them he recorded "Latin-American Lollipops," 
a compilation of Latin-American masterpieces on the Dorian label.  Mr. Vargas has 
participated in several international chamber music festivals, including Aspen, 
Norfolk, and Great Lakes, and has performed as a chamber musician throughout the US, 
South America, Canada, and Europe.

Mr. Vargas was the violist of the Cuarteto America (string quartet) from 1997 through
1999, during which time he pursued a Diploma in Chamber Music at Wilfrid Laurier
University (Canada) and a Masters degree from Miami University of Ohio.  He has been
violist of the Euclid Quartet since September 2001.

Si-Yan Darren Li made his professional debut at the age of nine. Since then, he has appeared in
recitals and chamber music performances at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium, Weill Recital
Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Kennedy Center, Victoria Concert Hall in
Singapore, Izumi Hall in Osaka, National Concert Hall in Taipei and the Basilica de San Lorenzo
in Florence. 

Mr. Li has received top prizes in numerous competitions, including the Tchaikovsky
International Competition for Young Musicians in Moscow, the Young Concert Artists
International Auditions in New York, the Young Artists Competition of Mann Center for the
Performing Arts in Philadelphia, and the Second China National Cello Competition. He has also
appeared in many festivals, including the Ravinia Festival, the Kronberg Academy Cello Festival
in Germany, and the Verbier Festival Academy in Switzerland. As an active chamber musician,
Mr. Li has collaborated with renowned artists, such as Emmanuel Ax, Carter Brey, Cho-Liang
Lin, Miriam Fried, Paul Katz and Lang Lang.

Mr. Li began his cello studies at the age of five in China. At the age of nine, he was accepted to
the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music. After moving to the United States in his early teens,
Mr. Li continued his cello studies with Orlando Cole in Philadelphia. He holds a Bachelor of
Music Degree from The Juilliard School and a Master of Music Degree as well as an Artist
Diploma from the Peabody Institute, where he studied with Fred Sherry, Harvey Shapiro, Alan
Stepansky and David Hardy. Mr. Li plays on a 1773 J.B.Guadagnini Cello, generously on loan
from the private collection of Mr. and Mrs. Rin Kei-Mei.