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
Pamela Frank, violin
Nobuko Imai, viola
Ralph Kirshbaum, cello
Haydn String Quartet No. 59 in G minor, Op. 74, No. 3, Hob.III:74, “The Rider” Dvorák String Quintet No. 3, Op. 97 Korngold String Sextet in D major, Op. 10
Evnin Rising Stars
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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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.
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, 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, 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
Joseph Haydn / 1732-1809 / String Quartet No. 59 in G minor, Op. 74, No. 3, Hob.III:74, “The Rider”
Haydn’s long-time service to the Hungarian princes of the Esterházy family naturally brought him into connection with other aristocratic families of that region. One of the consequences of this connection is that a dozen of his finest and most mature string quartets were composed on commission from the Apponyi family (the six quartets of Opus 71 and Opus 74) or the Erdödy family (the six quartets of Opus 76). Almost without exception, Haydn (like other musicians of his day) published chamber works in groups of six. Since Opus 71 and Opus 74 both contain only three quartets yet were composed in the same year (1793) and were published with a dedication to a single patron, we can certainly consider them together as a single set of quartets.
From very early in his career, Haydn had chosen to allow just one work in a group of six to be in a minor key. For the Opus 71/74 combination, that work is the very last one of the series, which has been nicknamed the “Rider” or the “Horseman” quartet, evidently from some early listener’s notion that the opening musical idea of the first movement suggests some kind of galloping motion; or perhaps it was the vigorous racing of the finale that suggested the name. In any case, it does not come from Haydn himself, and while it allows us a convenient shorthand way to refer to this splendid quartet, it also has the unfortunate side-effect of emphasizing the outer movements and drawing attention away from one of Haydn’s greatest and most expressive slow movements.
All six of the quartets were composed between Haydn’s first and second visits to London in the early 1790s, a time when his musical language was, paradoxically, at its most advanced level of development and also its most popular with musical audiences all over Europe.
The first movement begins with a vigorous opening gesture that ends suddenly after eight bars and never returns again—though a fragment of it (the last two beats of each measure) becomes an accompanimental figure to the triplet theme that soon follows, and the same fragment appears as a feature of the second theme, introduced by the first violin on the D-string. The triplets that start near the beginning dominate the musical flow until Haydn begins a remarkable return to the home key and the recapitulation. The sudden disappearance of the triplets draws the listener to the re-emergence of the main theme (though without the “galloping” eight-bar opening). At the very end of the movement, Haydn moves from G minor to G major, which is closer to the key of movement that is to follow.
The slow movement was extraordinarily popular in Haydn’s day. His publisher issued no fewer than five different arrangements for piano. The choice of E major—a very bright key, and not one that the audience would expect—gives it a special quality from the very first chord. Its shape is basically a very simple one (A-B-A’), but it is full of harmonic surprises that sound almost romantic in their daring and range, especially after the return to the last A section.
Almost invariably a minuet movement is in the main key of a quartet in Haydn’s work. But in this case, Haydn opens his minuet in G major—the same key that he had used to connect to the slow movement; here he links back to the home key of G minor, thus leaving the Largo as a brief visit to another planet. The Trio continues the return to the harmonic home by finally establishing G minor again.
The racing finale is filled with bounce and energy in its main thematic area and offers a perky tune for its second theme, then suggests elaborate contrapuntal play at the beginning of the development. But when it returns in the recapitulation, Haydn takes us to a sunny G major as the “rider” gallops cheerfully home.
When Mrs. Jeanette Thurber persuaded Antonín Dvořák to come to America as the director of her National Conservatory in New York, she expected great things of him. The Bohemian composer, at the height of his popularity, brought a cheerful, friendly personality and a musical openness that made him popular wherever he went. Quite early in his stay Dvořák was asked by reporters what advice he would offer to American composers. His response—that they should draw upon their own native musical heritage in seeking materials for their art—reflected Dvořák’s own procedure with the melodic styles and the dance forms of his native Bohemia. What Dvořák meant by that was especially the music of black Americans, which, if he knew it at all, came from concert performances of spirituals and from the popular entertainment of the minstrel show (where the music was often written by white musicians in supposed imitation of vanished “plantation life”).
His views were widely and heatedly discussed. When Dvořák made these remarks, he knew scarcely any American music, either art or folk music, nor could he have really understood the cultural diversity of this vast country, so different from his native Bohemia. And he was not yet familiar with the substantial number of talented American composers who had been getting along quite well—and even anticipating his approaches years before his music was known here. And, for all his insistence that America influenced his own music, his basic inspiration remained Bohemian to the core.
During the summer of 1893, Dvořák spent his holiday with his family at Spillville, a Czech community in Iowa, where the nostalgic composer felt immediately at home. During June and July, he composed two substantial chamber works: the string quartet in F, Opus 96, and the quintet in Eflat, Opus 97; both works were to be nicknamed “American.” Both works were premiered in Boston on January 1, 1894, by the Kneisel Quartet, the most distinguished string quartet in America at the time (the ensemble consisted of firstchair players from the Boston Symphony Orchestra led by concertmaster Franz Kneisel).
Dvořák’s music is filled with pentatonic tunes, characteristic of the folk music of Bohemia; the secondary theme of his first movement, though, is more energetic and rhythmic, and is supposedly based on a melody he heard from a troupe of Iroquois Indians, who visited Spillville while he was there. The second movement is a scherzo beginning with a drumbeat pattern in the viola, followed by a prodigal play of melodies and countermelodies in the traditional ABA form. The slow movement comes in third place; here it is a theme with five variations. The theme begins with a repeated descending figure. Its second half is evidently based on a tune that Dvořák was sketching to the words “My country ‘tis of thee,” which he intended to propose as an American national anthem (though, of course, those words are far better known— ironically—to the tune of the British national anthem!). The dotted rhythmic figure of the first movement returns to pervade the lively rondo theme of the finale; the percussive first interlude may be another reference to Dvořák’s single experience of American Indians, while the second is more lyrical and typical of his Czech folk music, followed by a lively conclusion.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold / 1897-1957 / String Sextet in D major, Op. 10
The prodigiously talented Erich Wolfgang Korngold was in his youth hailed as a new Mozart (the middle name that his music critic father bestowed on him clearly indicates his hopes in that direction). When he was ten, Mahler pronounced him a genius upon hearing his cantata Gold. The following year he composed a ballet, Der Schneemann (The Snowman) and saw it performed with sensational success at the Vienna Court Opera. Soon after that he wrote a piano sonata that impressed Schnabel enough to perform it all over Europe. And he achieved world fame with the performance, in 1920, of his opera Die tote Stadt (The Dead City), composed when he was twenty.
In 1928 a poll conducted by a Viennese newspaper netted the view that the two greatest living composers were Schoenberg and Korngold. Today Korngold has been largely forgotten except as a composer of film scores, a field in which he became pre-eminent in Hollywood in the 1930s and ‘40s.
He composed his String Sextet at the age of 17; his music was part of the advanced musical language of the day (particularly close to that of Mahler or Strauss), always retaining a melodious character and a romantic sensibility. The most famous string sextet to come out of Vienna in that period was Schoenberg’s Transfigure Night, with which Korngold’s youthful, but equally passionate, score is frequently paired in concert.
The opening movement (Moderato— Allegro) begins with a glowing ardor that explodes into a dramatic passage that settles into a melodious and lush second theme; the development is filled with sudden contrasts, almost operatic in character, a reminder that he was composing the sextet while also working on his intensely passionate opera Violanta. The second movement (Tranquillo; Andante) maintains a darkly subdued character, profoundly melancholy. The ensuing Intermezzo (in moderate tempo) is lighter, touched with the air of the Viennese waltz. The Finale—Presto chases away the clouds that hung over the earlier movements (even, to some degree, the third) with a bouncy, playful close. As a whole the sextet seems to move from the hothouse passions of Violanta to the joys of a sunny summer day. It is a good illustration of the comment made by his father that Erich liked to follow an opera with a chamber work in order to “cleanse” himself.