Evnin Rising Stars
Saturday October 29, 2016 8:00pm

Evnin Rising Stars

Artist Mentorship with Classical Legends


The Evnin Rising Stars program is an incubator for leaders in classical music performance. Distinguished artist/mentors pass on the great masterworks of the chamber music repertoire to a new generation of outstanding talent. The culmination of this week of intense collaboration and musical discovery is an opportunity for the public to witness musicians on their way to becoming legends themselves. Esteemed alumni of this program include Edward Arron, Jonathan Biss, Frank Huang, and Alisa Weilerstein.

Evnin Rising Stars

Eunice Kim, violin
Paul Huang, violin
In Mo Yang, violin
Sung Jin Lee, viola
Haeji Kim, viola
Sarah Rommel, cello
Oliver Herbert, cello

Distinguished Artists

Pamela Frank, violin
Nobuko Imai, viola
Ralph Kirshbaum, cello


Mozart  String Quintet No. 5 in D major, K. 593
Hindemith  String Quartet No. 4, Op. 22
Brahms  String Sextet No. 1 in B-flat major, Op. 18

Evnin Rising Stars

Eunice Kim

Eunice Kim, violin

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, violinist Eunice Kim has been proclaimed “just superb” (The New York Times) and “a born performer” (Epoch Times). She recently performed as a soloist with Seongnam Philharmonic at the Seongnam Love Festival in South Korea and also appeared as a soloist with Jersey City Philharmonic as a part of Manhattan Music Festival. More recent performances include solo debuts with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Louisville Symphony, an Astral Artists debut recital in Philadelphia, a recital for the first season of Tippet Rise Arts Center, and performing as a guest artist in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Germany, and South Korea as a part of Curtis on Tour. Ms. Kim made her solo debut at the age of seven with the Korean Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, Korea. Amongst soloing with many other orchestras, she also recently performed George Tsontakis’s Unforgettable with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, recorded under NAXOS Label.

A winner of Astral Artists’ 2012 National Auditions, Ms. Kim is the recipient of awards and honors from the California International Violin Competition, the Korea Times String Competition, and the Youth Excellence Scholarship for the Arts. She was also a participant in Menuhin International Violin Competition and Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition. She represented the Curtis Institute of Music and San Francisco Conservatory of Music in the Millennium Stage Series Conservatory Project at the Kennedy Center.

An enthusiastic advocate for community engagement, she has been partnered with the Philadelphia Orchestra Department of Education to perform outreach series and has also been invited to be a teaching artist for the William Penn Residency at schools in the Philadelphia area. Ms. Kim has been invited to perform and teach at numerous international music festivals, the latest ones including Teatro Del Lago Festival in Chile and Valdres Music Academy in Norway. Her last few summers have been spent performing at Music From Angel Fire, Ravinia Steans Institute, and Marlboro Music School and Festival.

Eunice Kim began studying violin at age six with Wei He in the preparatory division of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Ms. Kim graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree at the Curtis Institute of Music with Ida Kavafian, where she was the recipient of the Rose Paul Fellowship, the concertmaster of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, a mentor in the Curtis Community Engagement program, and was awarded with the Milka Violin Artist Prize.


Paul Huang

Paul Huang, violin

Recipient of the prestigious 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Taiwanese-American violinist Paul Huang is already recognized for his intensely expressive music making, distinctive sound, and effortless virtuosity. Following his Kennedy Center debut, The Washington Post proclaimed: “Huang is definitely an artist with the goods for a significant career.”

His recent and upcoming engagements include debuts with the Houston, Pacific, Omaha Symphonies, Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, Louisiana, and Seoul Philharmonics, as well as return engagements with the Detroit, Alabama, Bilbao Symphonies, and National Symphonies of Mexico and Taiwan. He also appears at White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg at the invitation of Valery Gergiev, and returns to the Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach, Caramoor Festival’s Rising Stars series, and Camerata Pacifica as their Principal Artist.

In the 2014-15 season, Mr. Huang stepped in for Midori to appear with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leonard Slatkin performing the Siblieus concerto to critically acclaimed. He also appeared with the Alabama Symphony on short notice to perform the Walton concerto. Other season highlights included his concerto debut performing the Barber Concerto with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Lincoln Center, as well as his sold-out solo recital debut on Lincoln Center’s “Great Performers” Series.

Mr. Huang’s recent recital appearances include performances for Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, University of Georgia Performing Arts, University of Florida Performing Arts, the Strathmore Center, the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., Buffalo Chamber Music Society, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Jordan Hall, the Louvre in Paris, Seoul Arts Center, and National Concert Hall in Taiwan.

His first solo CD, Intimate Inspiration, is a collection of favorite virtuoso and romantic encore pieces slated for a summer release on the CHIMEI label. In association with Camerata Pacifica, he recorded “Four Songs of Solitude” for solo violin on their album of John Harbison works. The album was released on Harmonia Mundi in fall 2014.

An acclaimed chamber musician, Mr. Huang appears as a member of the prestigious Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two program for 2015–2018. A frequent guest artist at music festivals worldwide, he has performed at the CHANEL Music Festival in Tokyo, Music@Menlo, La Jolla, the Moritzburg Festival and Kissinger Sommer in Germany, the Sion Music Festival in Switzerland, the Great Mountains Music Festival in Korea. He has collaborated with notable artists including Gil Shaham, Nobuko Imai, Lawrence Power, Maxim Rysanov, Misha Maisky, Frans Helmerson, Jian Wang, and Marc-Andre Hamelin.

Winner of the 2011 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Mr. Huang made critically acclaimed recital debuts in New York at Merkin Concert Hall and in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center. Other honors include First Prize at the 2009 International Violin Competition Sion-Valais in Switzerland, the 2009 Chi-Mei Cultural Foundation Arts Award for Taiwan’s Most Promising Young Artists, the 2013 Salon de Virtuosi Career Grant, and 2014 Classical Recording Foundation Young Artist Award.

Born in Taiwan, Mr. Huang began violin lessons at the age of seven. He is a proud recipient of the inaugural Kovner Fellowship at The Juilliard School, where he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. He plays on the 1742 ex-Wieniawski Guarneri del Gesù on loan through the generous efforts of the Stradivari Society of Chicago. Mr. Huang’s website is www.paulhuangviolin.com.
In Mo Yang

In Mo Yang, violin

Korean violinist In Mo Yang, First Prize Winner of the 2014 Concert Artists Guild Competition, has been hailed by the Boston Globe for his “…seamless technique and a tender warmth of tone,” combined with “…an ability to project an engaging sense of inner sincerity through his playing.” In March 2015, he won the 54th International Violin Competition “Premio Paganini” in Genoa, Italy, marking the first time since 2006 that the Paganini Competition jury has awarded the First Prize. He also garnered the following special prizes: Youngest finalist; Best performance of the contemporary original piece; and Performance most appreciated by the audience, confirming The Violin Channel’s praise of Mr. Yang as “one of the new generation’s most talented young string virtuosi.”

These impressive First Prize honors have resulted in numerous performance prizes for Mr. Yang with prestigious orchestras and at renowned recital venues worldwide, including his recent Carnegie Hall recital debut at Weill Recital Hall, a concerto engagement with the Danish National Symphony conducted by Fabio Luisi, and a special recital in Genoa using Paganini’s own Guarneri Del Gesu violin, among many others.

Concerto highlights of his 2016-17 concert season include European engagements with Philharmonia Zurich and the Baden Baden Philharmionic (Germany), and in the US with the Fairfax Symphony, Gulf Coast (MS) Symphony and the DuPage (IL) Symphony. Back home in Boston, Mr. Yang opens the season for The Bach, Beethoven & Brahms Society (formerly the Boston Classical Orchestra) and he also makes his Symphony Hall debut with the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Benjamin Zander.

Featured North American recitals in 2016-17 include New York’s Merkin Concert Hall, Ravinia’s Gordon Hall series near Chicago, Toronto’s Mooredale Concerts, and Florida’s Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. In Europe, he performs at the Dresden Music Festival and the Yehudi Menuhin Gstaad Festival, following other recent international recitals throughout Italy, as well as in China and Korea. As a chamber musician, Mr. Yang will play at Caramoor in fall 2016 as part of their Rising Stars series, and he tours again in spring 2017 with ‘Chamber Music from Ravinia’ and Artistic Director Miriam Fried.

Mr. Yang has performed as concerto soloist with the NDR Radiophilharmonie, Russian Symphony Orchestra, Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Boston Classical Orchestra, Longwood Symphony Orchestra, Central Aichi Symphony Orchestra, KBS Symphony Orchestra, and the Korean Symphony Orchestra. Festival appearances include Ravinia, Rockport Chamber Music Festival, New Hampshire Music Festival, Ishikawa Music Academy, Great Mountains International Music Festival, Japan-Korea Concert for Young Musicians, and Public Concert Academie de Music in Sion. Among his many earlier competition awards are Second Prize in the 2014 Yehudi Menuhin International Competition, and top honors at the 2013 Munetsugu Angel Violin Competition and the 2012 Joachim International Violin Competition.

Born in Asia to a Korean family in 1995, In Mo Yang gave his debut recital at age 11 on the Ewon Prodigy Series in Seoul, followed by his concerto debut at age 15 with the KBS Symphony Orchestra. He graduated from the Korean National Institute for the Gifted in Arts in February 2011 and was then admitted into the Korean National University of Arts as a prodigy in music. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree at New England Conservatory, where he studies with Miriam Fried as a recipient of the Laurence Lesser Presidential Scholarship.

Mr. Yang plays on an Antonio Stradivari violin (composite c.1705/1718), courtesy of an anonymous donor, with a loan generously arranged by Reuning & Sons, Boston.
Sung Jin Lee

Sung Jin Lee, viola

Violist Sungjin Lee, of South Korea, currently studies at the Juilliard School with renowned pedagogues Heidi Castleman and Hsin-yun Huang. Recently graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music where she served as principal violist, her previous teachers also include Michael Tree, Roberto Diaz, and Joseph de Pasquale. Ms. Lee has performed as soloist with many orchestras, including the Baden-baden Philharmonic, Korean Symphony Orchestra, and Academic Ensemble. She has also received prizes from many competitions including the Lionel Tertis Viola Competition, Just Viola Festival Competition, and Seoul Youth Chamber Music Competition, among others.

Ms. Lee is an avid chamber musician, having collaborated with artists including Gidon Kremer, Steven Isserlis, Christian Tetzlaff, Peter Wiley, Ida Kavafian, Ani Kavafian, and Philip Setzer, and also performs in many solo recitals across Korea. She has participated in various festivals including Music from Angel Fire, Music@Menlo, Chamber Music Connects the World (Kronberg Academy), Heifetz International Music Institute, Carl Flesch Academy, New York String Orchestra Seminar, and Great Mountain International Music Festival. Ms. Lee plays as a substitute violist for the Philadelphia Orchestra and will be participating in the Caramoor as a young artist this coming season.
Haeji Kim

Haeji Kim, viola

Originating from Flushing, New York, Haeji Kim grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She has appeared as a soloist with the Dearborn, Marquette, Northern Lights Music Festival, and Rochester Symphony Orchestras. She participated in the New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall in 2012 as a violinist and in 2014 as principal violist. Honors include First Prize at the New York Young Music Artists auditions, leading to a solo debut at Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall; prize winner at the National Federation of Music Clubs Stillman Kelley Competition; and Grand Prize in the solo competition of the Michigan chapter of the American String Teachers Association. Some of her summer studies have been at the Summit Music Festival, Cambridge International String Academy, Center Stage Strings, and as a fellow at the Ravinia Steans Music Institute. She has worked with renowned artists such as Midori, Rodney Friend, Ida Haendel, Kim Kashkashian, Antoine Tamestit, Misha Amory, Paul Biss, Pam Frank, and Atar Arad.

She began violin lessons with Sharon Rothstein at age six, switching to the viola at age sixteen. Her teachers have included Dmitri Berlinsky, Geoffrey Applegate, Almita & Roland Vamos, Aaron Rosand & Christina Khimm, Danae Witter, Stephen Shipps, and Caroline Coade of the University of Michigan. She was drawn to the viola by its depth of the C string while experiencing it first-hand during orchestra at her high school in measures 23 & 24 of the fourth movement of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, and greatly appreciates how the viola bridges the violin and cello worlds on a broader scale. It also settles her sentiments of desiring to have played the cello as well. She aspires to break common violistic stereotypes and expand the repertoire by arranging current classic works, and also by studying the layout of the instrument so that these “different versions” may be appropriately fitting.

Ms. Kim’s passion for Brahms, Beethoven, and German composers lies deep in her bones and her appreciation for Bach grows by the day. She takes joy in exploring and learning, and appreciates a variety of composers and genres, just having been involved in Kurtag and Ligeti (Sonatas for Solo Viola) projects at school last year. Outside of the practice room, Ms. Kim indulges in photography, ping pong, nature, snow, walking the dogs in the window of the pet shop down the street, late night food and bubble tea explorations, and occasional cooking attempts.

Ms. Kim returns to her hometown in Michigan in January, to collaborate with her beloved teacher Pauline Martin and other distinguished faculty, as part of Chamber Soloists of Detroit’s second concert of the season. She is in her second year at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, PA., studying with Roberto Díaz and Hsin-Yun Huang, as a Susan Dewar DeCamp Annual Fellow Currently, she is playing on a 2012 model by Joseph Grubaugh & Sigrun Seifert through a generous scholarship grant from the Virtu Foundation.
Sarah Rommel

Sarah Rommel, cello

American cellist Sarah Rommel is a recent top prizewinner in the George Enescu International Cello Competition and Beverly Hills National Auditions. She has been the recipient of several awards and grants including a Williamson Foundation Grant, Frank Huntington Beebe Fund Grant, Anna Sosenko Trust Grant, and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artists Award, which led to a subsequent appearance on NPR’s “From the Top”.

Ms. Rommel has given solo performances and recitals in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Seattle, Aspen, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, France, England, and Italy, in addition to having made her solo orchestral debut in Bucharest, Romania with the George Enescu Philharmonic. She has actively participated in classes at the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, Academie Musicale de Villecroze, and IMS Prussia Cove. She has worked closely with distinguished professors such as David Geringas, Gary Hoffman, Frans Helmerson, Carter Brey, Paul Katz, and members of the Emerson, St. Lawrence, Orion, and Takács Quartets in master classes.

An enthusiastic chamber musician, Ms. Rommel won the silver medal in the 2007 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition as a member of the Newman Quartet. She has been invited to perform at festivals such as Music from Angel Fire, NM, Music in May Festival, Santa Cruz Chamber Players, Chamber Music Palisades, as well as Ravinia’s Steans Institute of Music and Marlboro Music Festival. During the summer of 2013, Ms. Rommel joined the Antipodes String Trio for their concert tour of New Zealand under the auspices of Chamber Music New Zealand. Ms. Rommel has collaborated with composer John Adams in concert at the Kennedy Center and has most recently collaborated with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, and the Guarneri, Cleveland, and Orion String Quartets.

Ms. Rommel began her musical studies on the piano at age nine and was later introduced to the cello at age twelve. She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where she pursued a Bachelor of Music degree under the tutelage of Peter Wiley. Previous teachers include Efe Baltacigil and Hans Jørgen Jensen. She currently studies with Ralph Kirshbaum at USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles.
Oliver Herbert

Oliver Herbert, cello

Oliver Herbert, from San Francisco, began his cello studies at the age of seven and currently studies with Peter Wiley and Carter Brey at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Since his solo debut in 2013, Mr. Herbert has enjoyed numerous concerto and recital appearances, most recently with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, Dame Myra Hess recital series in Chicago, and the Las Vegas Philharmonic. His upcoming solo engagements include an appearance with the Santa Cruz Symphony.

Mr. Herbert has participated regularly in numerous music festivals including the Ravinia Steans Music Institute, Chamberfest Cleveland, the YellowBarn Young Artists Program, IMS Prussia Cove with Steven Isserlis, and Music in the Vineyards in Napa Valley.

Mr. Herbert currently performs as a part of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, as Associate Principal cellist of Symphony in C, and as Principal cellist of the Eastern Sierra Symphony. Mr. Herbert’s past orchestral experience includes Principal positions with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States, the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the Colburn Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra.

Mr. Herbert’s most recent competition awards include the first prize and Pablo Casals prize in the 2015 Irving M. Klein International String Competition, and the second prize in the 2015 Stulberg International String Competition. He is also a winner of the Spotlight Competition, the National YoungArts Foundation, the Colburn Academy Concerto Competition, the Nova Vista Symphony Concerto Competition, the PIMF Concerto Competition, the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition, and the Felix Khuner Young Artist Competition.

Before starting his studies at Curtis, Mr. Herbert was a student of Clive Greensmith at the Colburn Music Academy. His past teachers include Iris Pingel and Peter Wyrick. Mr. Herbert currently plays on a cello made by Richard Tobin in 1820 on generous loan to him by the Ravinia Festival Steans Institute.


Distinguished Artists

Pamela Frank

Pamela Frank, violin

American violinist Pamela Frank has established an outstanding international reputation across an unusually varied range of performing activity. In addition to her extensive schedule of engagements with prestigious orchestras throughout the world and her recitals on the leading concert stages, she is regularly sought after as a chamber music partner by today’s most distinguished soloists and ensembles. The breadth of this accomplishment and her consistently high level of musicianship were recognized in 1999 with the Avery Fisher Prize, one of the highest honors given to American instrumentalists.

Ms. Frank has appeared with such orchestras as the Baltimore Symphony, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony, the Orchestre National de France, the Houston Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the National Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Vienna Symphony. She has performed under many esteemed conductors, including Daniel Barenboim, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Bernard Haitink, Seiji Ozawa, André Previn, Leonard Slatkin and, most regularly, Yuri Temirkanov and David Zinman. She appears often at numerous festivals in Europe and the United States, including Aldeburgh, Berlin, Blossom, Bravo! Vail Valley, Caramoor, the Hollywood Bowl, Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, Salzburg, Tanglewood, and Verbier.

Her passion for chamber music continues to find a variety of outlets. Her frequent collaborators, drawn from a large group of chamber music colleagues, include Yo-Yo Ma and Tabea Zimmermann. For many years she took part in the Marlboro Festival in Vermont as well as the subsequent Music from Marlboro tours. Ms. Frank has also participated in several of the Isaac Stern chamber music seminars at Carnegie Hall and the Jerusalem Music Centre as part of a group of performer-colleagues assisting Mr. Stern. Ms. Frank also took part in the Leon Fleisher classes at Carnegie Hall, as well as her own, when they were ongoing.

In the recording studio, Pamela Frank has made two discs for London/Decca: the Dvorak Concerto with the Czech Philharmonic and the Brahms Sonatas with Peter Serkin. She has also recorded the complete Mozart Violin Concertos with David Zinman and the Tonhalle Orchestra (Arte Nova), a Schubert album with Claude Frank (Arte Nova), and the Beethoven sonata cycle, also with Claude Frank (MusicMasters), now available as complete set on three discs. For Sony Classical, she has recorded the Chopin Piano Trio with Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma, the “Trout” Quintet, and is featured on the soundtrack to the film Immortal Beloved.

While committed to the standard repertoire, Ms. Frank also has an affinity for contemporary music, often including works by today’s composers on her programs. In March 1998 she gave the world premiere of a new concerto by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich commissioned for her by Carnegie Hall with Hugh Wolff and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. In 1997, as part of her annual visit to Japan, Ms. Frank joined Peter Serkin, Yo-Yo Ma, and Richard Stoltzman at Toru Takemitsu’s Tokyo Opera City, playing works of Takemitsu and others. She has also premiered and recorded two works by Aaron Jay Kernis, a piano quartet (Still Movement with Hymn) and a piece for violin and orchestra (Lament and Prayer). A noted pedagogue, Pamela Frank presents master classes and adjudicates major competitions throughout the world. She is also on the faculties of Curtis Institute of Music and the Peabody Conservatory, and teaches and coaches annually at the Tanglewood, Aspen, Ravinia, and Verbier Festivals as well as at several festivals in Europe. Pamela Frank frequents major festivals throughout North America and Europe, collaborating with artists that include Joshua Bell, Leonidas Kavakos, Christian Tetzlaff, Nobuko Imai, Antoine Tamestit, Stephen Isserlis, and Peter Wiley.

Born in New York City, Pamela Frank is the daughter of noted pianists Claude Frank and Lilian Kallir. She began her violin studies at age 5 and after 11 years as a pupil of Shirley Givens continued her musical education with Szymon Goldberg and Jaime Laredo. In 1985 she formally launched her career with the first of her four appearances with Alexander Schneider and the New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. A recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1988, she graduated the following year from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Pamela Frank is married to Howard Nelson, a physical therapist, and they make their home in the New York area.


Nobuko Imai

Nobuko Imai, viola

With her exceptional talent, musical integrity, and charisma, Nobuko Imai is considered to be one of the most outstanding violist of our time.

After finishing her studies at the Toho School of Music, Yale University, and the Juilliard School, she won the highest prizes at both the prestigious international competition in Munich and Geneva. Formerly a member of the esteemed Vermeer Quartet, Ms. Imai now combines a distinguished international solo career. She has appeared with many of the world’s prestigious orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw, the London, Boston, and Chicago Symphony, among many others.

A keen chamber musician, Ms. Imai has often performed with world’s renowned artists including Gidon Kremer, Midori, Mischa Maisky, Yo Yo Ma, Andràs Schiff, and Martha Argerich. In 2003, Nobuko Imai formed the Michelangelo Quartet. The quartet gained the international reputation quickly and now became one of finest quartets in the world. Ms. Imai is also a frequent guest at numerous world’s most distinguished music festivals, including Marlboro, Pablo Casals in Prado, Ravinia, and Verbier.

Nobuko Imai has dedicated a large part of her artistic activities to explore the diverse potential of the viola. In 1992 she founded the annual “Viola Space” project which is dedicated to “celebrating the viola, introducing outstanding works and new works for viola”. She is also keen to expand the viola repertoire and has given a number of first performances of the composers such as Vytautas Barkauskas, Hikaru Hayashi, Toshio Hosokawa, Akira Nishimura, Misato Mochizuki, Ichiro Nodaira, Toru Takemitsu, Michael Tippett, among others.

In 1995/1996 Nobuko Imai was artistic director of three Hindemith Festivals in London, New York, and Tokyo and received highly international acclaim. She was initiator and co-producer of a series in Amsterdam and Tokyo in 1999/2000, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the relationship between the two countries. In 2009 she founded The Tokyo International Viola Competition as a part of Viola Space, the first international competition in Japan exclusively for viola. Since 2011, she is the music adviser of the Phoenex Hall in Osaka.

An impressive discography of over 40 CDs shows Nobuko Imai’s recordings for prestigious labels such as BIS, Chandos, Deutsche Grammophone. Her many prizes include the Avon Arts Award, the Education Minister’s Art Prize for Music awarded by the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs, the Mobil Prize, the Suntory Music Prize, and the Mainichi Art Prize. Ms. Imai received the Purple Ribbon Medal (2003) and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette (2013) from the Japanese government.

Ms. Imai is a professor at Amsterdam Conservatory, Kronberg International Academy, and Queen Sofia College of Music in Madrid. She is also a professor extraordinarius at Ueno Gakuen University in Tokyo and a guest professor at Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.
Ralph Kirshbaum

Ralph Kirshbaum, cello

The distinguished career of Texas-born cellist Ralph Kirshbaum encompasses the worlds of solo performance, chamber music, recording, and pedagogy and places him in the highest echelon of today’s cellists. He enjoys the affection and respect not only of audiences worldwide, but also of his many eminent colleagues and students.

Ralph Kirshbaum has appeared with many of the world’s great orchestras, including the Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, BBC and London Symphonies, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Zurich Tonhalle, Orchestre de Paris, and Israel Philharmonic. He has collaborated with many of the great conductors of the time such as Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Christoph von Dohnányi, Andrew Davis, the late Sir Colin Davis, James Levine, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Sir Antonio Pappano, André Previn, Sir Simon Rattle, Leonard Slatkin, and the late Sir Georg Solti. Ralph Kirshbaum has appeared frequently at such prominent international festivals as Edinburgh, Bath, Verbier, Lucerne, Aspen, La Jolla, Santa Fe, Music@Menlo, Ravinia, and New York’s Mostly Mozart.

Having enjoyed a thirty-year collaboration with pianist Peter Frankl and violinist Gyorgy Pauk, he has in recent years frequently appeared with Pinchas Zukerman, Robert McDuffie, Lawrence Dutton, Peter Jablonski and Shai Wosner. Other recent collaborators have included Leif Ove Andsnes, Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, Midori, Lang Lang, Vadim Repin, Joseph Swensen, Pepe Romero, and the Emerson and Takács String Quartets. Bach forms an important part of Mr. Kirshbaum’s musical activities; he has performed the complete cycle of Bach Cello Suites in London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in Sydney, Edinburgh, Lyon, and San Francisco. He has also made a critically acclaimed recording of the solo Bach Suites for EMI/Virgin Classics.

Last season Mr. Kirshbaum performed Beethoven cycles with pianist Shai Wosner in the U.S. and Great Britain, highlighted by a performance of the complete cycle in London’s Wigmore Hall, in conjunction with the celebration of Mr. Kirshbaum’s 70th birthday. In November 2016, a recording, together with Shai Wosner, of the complete sonatas and variations of Beethoven will be released on the Onyx Classics label. Kirshbaum continues to perform Beethoven’s cello works in the 2016/17 season with Mr. Wosner: in October at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC; and in March at the Wallis Annenberg Center in Los Angeles, where the duo will perform the complete sonatas and variations of Beethoven in two consecutive concerts, immediately followed by a performance at Chamber Music Sedona in Arizona.

Kirshbaum founded the RNCM Manchester International Cello Festival in 1988 as a celebration of the cello, its music and musicians. The final Festival, which took place in 2007, was awarded the important Royal Philharmonic Society’s Music Award for Concert Series and Festivals. In 2012, Kirshbaum inaugurated the highly successful Piatigorsky International Cello Festival in Los Angeles, centered at the University of Southern California – Thornton School of Music. The Festival returned to Los Angeles in May 2016 and was attended by some of the world’s foremost cellists, rising young artists and concertgoers, receiving international acclaim for its concerts, masterclasses, lectures, and workshops. Mr. Kirshbaum launched the 2016 Festival with a performance of Bloch’s Schelomo with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the baton of Leonard Slatkin.

A renowned pedagogue, he served on the faculty of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester for 38 years. In 2008, he accepted the Gregor Piatigorsky Chair in Violoncello at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, where he recently assumed the role of Chair of the Strings Department. In July 2016 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. He continues to serve as Artistic Advisor of IMS Prussia Cove and is Founder/Honorary President of the Pierre Fournier Award, as well as Honorary President of the London Cello Society. He recently served a five-year term on the United States President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Ralph Kirshbaum’s many recordings have included a Gramophone Magazine “Record of the Year” world premiere recording of Tippett’s Triple Concerto for Philips, the Elgar and Walton Concertos for Chandos, the Ravel, Shostakovich and Brahms Trios for EMI, the Barber Concerto and Sonata for EMI/Virgin Classics, and the Shostakovich and Prokofiev Sonatas with Peter Jablonski for Altara Music. Also noteworthy is his recording of the Brahms Double and Beethoven Triple Concertos for BMG Classics with Pinchas Zukerman, John Browning, and the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, and the recent Hyperion release of the Schubert Quintet with the Takács Quartet.

The rare Montagnana Cello that Ralph Kirshbaum plays once belonged to the 19th-century virtuoso Alfredo Piatti.

About the Music

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart / 1756-1791 / String Quintet No. 5 in D major, K. 593

Mozart was not the first composer to write string quintets, but the form was still a new one, without established conventions, when he turned to it in 1787 for two masterpieces in C major and in G minor (K.515 and 516), both works of extraordinary scope and expressive power. After having thus firmly established the medium of the string quartet with an extra viola, Mozart abandoned it again until the last year of his life, when he wrote two more quintets at the earnest entreaty of a music-lover presumed to be the wealthy Moravian merchant Johann Tost, for whom Haydn had written a dozen string quartets in the preceding year or so. It may even have been Haydn who turned this wealthy patron’s attention to his brilliant young friend; perhaps that is why both quintets—especially the second, K.614 in E-flat—contain hints of Haydn’s style, in grateful homage.

The addition of a second viola to the wellestablished medium of string quartet gives new opportunity for richness of sound in the middle of the texture, since violas can serve simultaneously as melody and accompaniment instruments. Moreover, with a viola in its lowest register, the cello can be freed of total responsibility to provide the bass line. In many places, the first violin and first viola become almost a “concertino,” presenting material in opposition to the other three instruments. And sometimes the textures seems to consist of two trios echoing back and forth, an effect created by having the middle voice (first viola) play with both groups—with the two violins for a bright trio, and with second viola and cello for a darker one.

Though Mozart uses all these effects in K.593, he also gives each of the parts free rein in intricate contrapuntal interplay. The opening Larghetto pits the cello against the four upper parts in an introduction that soon begins to emphasize the minor mode before landing on the dominant to launch the statement of the first Allegro theme. The exposition is Haydnesque in that a somewhat enlarged version of the first theme returns to establish the secondary key as well (a rare procedure for Mozart, who preferred to invent contrasting themes). The development, following sonorous echoes tossed between high and low groups of instruments, takes off on a polyphonic chase that soon leads around to the recapitulation. Here the first theme moves quickly to a new extension in the minor (recalling thus the opening Larghetto) before a restatement of the secondary material, which also has inflections to the tonic minor. None of this prepares us for the surprise recapitulation of the opening Larghetto, which is not simply a literal repetition to frame the movement, but rather truly a recapitulation, with its own requisite harmonic adjustment. A final statement of the opening Allegro theme, wittily conceived to serve equally well as beginning or end, brings matters to an abrupt halt.

The Adagio is one of the most richly elaborated of Mozart’s slow movements, filled with those expressive chromatic gestures that are so characteristic of him. The harmonic range of this slowmovement sonata form reinforces the decorative chromatic melodic lines, which reappear still more ornately at the recapitulation. The minuet presents a theme constructed of falling thirds which suddenly becomes a two-part canon at one beat in the restatement—surely an idea intended to recall a favorite Haydn device.

The finale has been published and played for years in a version that passed as a late revision by the composer. The main theme—a descending chromatic scale—was rewritten into zigzag shape,and even the eagle eye and penetrating perceptions of the great Mozart scholar Alfred Einstein considered the revision to be the composer’s own. We now know, however, that the revision was made after Mozart’s death, probably at the hands of the publisher, who converted the original shape of the tune into something more Haydnesque, which had the added advantage of being easier to play. But the original form of the theme could only have been written by Mozart, and it is that authentic version that will be performed here.


Paul Hindemith / 1895-1963 / String Quartet No. 4, Op. 22

Hindemith was a superb performer on the violin and viola, and he had a great deal of experience as a string quartet player. It is only natural, then, that he should compose string quartets very early in his career (and, eventually, form a distinguished ensemble to play them, when others declared that his modern music—and that of some other composers—was “unplayable”). His earliest mature quartet, now called No. 2, in F minor, published as Opus 10 in 1918 (an earlier work in C was shelved but is now identified as Quartet No. 1), leaned on classic models in its style and structure, with indications that he had studied Brahms and Reger closely. But even here Hindemith was far more adventurous in his harmonies and clearly aiming for new sonorities. The Quartet No.3, Opus 16 (1921) is filled with overheated, expressionistic gestures learned from Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony—themes of wide melodic span, clashes of major-minor chords, harmonic tensions caused by appoggiaturas that never resolve (or do so too late to be heard as consonances), and chords built up in fourths rather than thirds. The Fourth Quartet, Op. 22, was composed in 1921 and performed in 1922; he wrote it specifically for the Amar Quartet, his own ensemble, which remained one of the leading chamber music ensembles in Europe until it disbanded in 1929.

In the early 1920s, the rapidly-developing Hindemith had put behind him some of the wilder expressionistic elements of his earlier music or the mad eclecticisms of Kammermusik No. 1, composed very shortly before, and turned to the cooler neo-Baroque sonorities of the popular Kleine Kammermusik for wind quintet, Op. 24, No. 1.

The quartet also finds its role in Hindemith’s new “objective” approach. He used the German term Sachlichkeit, suggesting a desire to deploy solid technical ability rather than the heated drive of an over-the-top expressionist aesthetic found in some of his early one-act operas like Sancta Susanna and Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen (“Murder, Hope for Wives”). The new approach led to the dispassionate vigor of a neo-Baroque quality.

The quartet’s mastery of string sonorities reveals Hindemith’s control of the medium, and the structures demonstrate his early familiarity with a wide range of musical approaches. The opening movement is a Fugato that builds to a central climax, while the ostinato-filled second movements shows clearly the influence of another young up-andcoming composer, Béla Bartók, in its use of ostinato and exotic Hungarian coloration. The third movement employs polytonal effects (that is, music in two or more different keys at the same time) to create clashes of major and minor. The fourth contains cadenzas for the viola and cello; it is essentially a prelude to the finale, where the cello and viola take off in a two-part invention that invokes the style of the past in modern terms.


Johannes Brahms / 1833-1897 / String Sextet No. 1 in B-flat major, Op. 18

The B-flat Sextet is the earliest Brahms chamber music work to be heard in performance with any frequency. (The B-major Trio, published as Opus 8, is performed today in the composer’s revision of 1891, which, he once joked, should really be called “Opus 108”; though the original version survives, I have never known an ensemble that chose to play it rather than the revision.) It is also Brahms’s earliest work for strings alone. As such, it is striking in its avoidance of anything that might summon up the memory of Beethoven, whose shade Brahms felt to be haunting him so overpoweringly. First of all, this Opus 18 (unlike Beethoven’s) is not a string quartet; it exploits a medium that Beethoven himself never used. And, as if to make assurance doubly sure, Brahms states his opening theme in a sonority that is quite unobtainable from a string quartet: the tune is stated in a cello while another cello provides the bass and a viola sandwiched between them provides the accompaniment. After a single phrase the two violins enter, but now there are five instruments playing, not four, and before long the second viola joins in. Brahms thus insisted that even a listener with his eyes shut would know at once that this is not in any way an attempt to enter a medium that Beethoven had worked so well.

We know little about when Brahms actually composed the work, since his lifelong habit of revising and keeping a work to himself until he was satisfied meant that many compositions were written long before they were published. He finished it in the autumn of 1860, but it may have been underway for a year or more, during which time he was engaged for three months each year in the princely court of Detmold. There he received a quarterly salary sufficient to support him modestly for the rest of the year, and he had plenty of time to compose. The sextet is fresh and relaxed, though tinged with resignation, and redolent of the magnificent surrounding forest in which Brahms took lengthy strolls.

The exposition is, in most respects, traditional, but a magical harmonic shift lifts us briefly to a different world. It closes with a passage that sounds altogether Viennese (though Brahms had not yet visited the city that would eventually be his lifelong home). The development builds up a good bit of energy which is dispersed in the mellow recapitulation.

The second movement is a set of variations in D minor that allows Brahms to ring all sorts of imaginative changes on the varied ways of scoring six stringed instruments. The theme and first three variations follow the old Baroque practice of gradually increasing the level of activity from one section to the next. With the fourth variation Brahms turns to D major for a flowing section with simple melodic outline. The fifth variation turns the violas into bagpipes with a drone and a skirl. The minor key returns in the last variation for a backward glance to the opening.

Scherzo and Trio are both energetic, almost Beethovenian in their exuberance. The finale is a melodious rondo, lyrical rather than dramatic (probably on the model of Schubert), though with vigorous outbursts from time to time and an animated rush to the end.

© Steven Ledbetter