After opening the first of our chamber ensemble performances (Pamela Frank’s June 19 Father’s Day tribute) with a Brahms quartet, we close the last with the composer’s longest chamber work, Piano Quartet in A major. Artist-in-Residence Jonathan Biss brings to the table an incredible group of musicians with whom he shares a personal connection, not least of whom is his mother, the gifted violinist Miriam Fried.
Janáček Sonata for violin and piano Brahms Piano Quartet in A major, Op. 26
Jonathan Biss is a world-renowned pianist who shares his deep musical and intellectual curiosity with classical music lovers in the concert hall and beyond. In addition to performing a full schedule of concerts, the 35-year-old American has spent nine summers at the Marlboro Music Festival and has written extensively about his relationships with the composers with whom he shares a stage. A member of the faculty of his alma mater the Curtis Institute of Music since 2010, Biss led the first massive open online course (MOOC) offered by a classical music conservatory, Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, which has reached more than 100,000 people in more than 160 countries.
This season Biss launches his latest Beethoven project, Beethoven/5, for which the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra is commissioning five composers to write new piano concertos, each inspired by one of Beethoven’s five piano concertos. The five-year plan begins in 2015 in Minnesota, where Biss will play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and the new concerto by Timo Andres that it inspired; the program is repeated later in the season at the Ulster Orchestra, with further performances planned for the following season. In the next four years, Biss will premiere new concertos by Sally Beamish, Salvatore Sciarrino, Caroline Shaw, and Brett Dean, each paired with a Beethoven concerto.
In 2015-16 Biss performs an exciting combination of orchestral works, solo pieces, and chamber music. He appears with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin; the Sydney and Melbourne symphonies; the Philadelphia Orchestra; the BBC Scottish, Atlanta, Lahti, and New Jersey symphony orchestras; the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. He extends his teaching activities beyond Curtis with master classes at universities across the country and an artist-in-residency with the IRIS Orchestra. In addition to solo recitals across the United States and Europe, he tours with the Doric Quartet in the U.S.; performs at Wigmore Hall and the Concertgebouw with Lisa Batiashvili, Antoine Tamestit, and Jean-Guihen Queyras; collaborates on a Schubert project with Inon Barnatan, and plays recitals with his mother, violinist Miriam Fried. At the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society’s 30th Anniversary Gala, Biss plays alongside Richard Goode and the Brentano Quartet.
Biss has embarked on a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas, and he reaches the halfway point in early 2016, when he releases the fifth volume. Upon the release of the fourth volume, BBC Music Magazine said, “Jonathan Biss will surely take his place among the greats if he continues on this exalted plane.” His bestselling eBook, Beethoven’s Shadow, published by RosettaBooks in 2011, was the first Kindle Single written by a classical musician, and he will continue to add lectures to his extraordinarily popular online course, Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas,until he covers all of them.
Biss’s Schumann: Under the Influence project was a 30-concert exploration of the composer’s role in musical history. Biss and several hand-picked collaborators performed Schumann’s work in juxtaposition with the music of Purcell, Beethoven, Schubert, Berg, Janacek, and Timo Andres. As part of the project, Biss recorded Schumann and Dvorák Piano Quintets with the Elias String Quartet and wrote an Amazon Kindle Single on Schumann, A Pianist Under the Influence. This season, Schumann’s Kreisleriana features on Biss’s recital program, along with Mozart and Schoenberg.
Throughout his career, Biss has been an advocate for new music. Among the works he has commissioned are Lunaire Variations by David Ludwig, Interlude II by Leon Kirchner, Wonderer by Lewis Spratlan, and Three Pieces for Piano and a concerto by Bernard Rands, which he premiered with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has also premiered a piano quintet by William Bolcom.
Biss represents the third generation in a family of professional musicians that includes his grandmother Raya Garbousova, one of the first well-known female cellists (for whom Samuel Barber composed his Cello Concerto), and his parents, violinist Miriam Fried and violist/violinist Paul Biss. Growing up surrounded by music, Biss began his piano studies at age six, and his first musical collaborations were with his mother and father. He studied at Indiana University with Evelyne Brancart and at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Leon Fleisher. At age 20, Biss made his New York recital debut at the 92nd Street Y’s Tisch Center for the Arts and his New York Philharmonic debut under Kurt Masur.
Biss has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Leonard Bernstein Award presented at the 2005 Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Wolf Trap’s Shouse Debut Artist Award, the Andrew Wolf Memorial Chamber Music Award, Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 2003 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, and the 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award. His recent albums for EMI won Diapason d’Or de l’année and Edison awards. He was an artist-in-residence on American Public Media’s Performance Today and was the first American chosen to participate in the BBC’s New Generation Artist program.
Miriam Fried has been recognized for many years as one of the world’s preeminent violinists. A consummate musician – equally accomplished as recitalist, concerto soloist or chamber musician – she has been heralded for her “fiery intensity and emotional depth” (Musical America) as well as for her technical mastery. Her supreme blend of artistry and musicianship continues to inspire audiences worldwide.
Miriam Fried has played with virtually every major orchestra in the United States and Europe and has been a frequent guest with the principal orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, as well as with the Israel Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, and the Vienna Symphony. Recital tours have taken her to all of the major music centers in North America and to Brussels, London, Milan, Munich, Rome, Paris, Salzburg, Stockholm, and Zurich.
In recent seasons, Ms. Fried’s schedule has included orchestral engagements with such prestigious ensembles as the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Milwaukee Symphony, Chautauqua Institution, the Louisville Orchetra, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, the BBC Philharmonic, the Montreal Symphony, the Czech Philharmonic, the Jerusalem Symphony, the Orquesta Filarmonica de Mexico, the Japan Philharmonic, and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. She recently premiered a violin concerto written for her by Donald Erb with the Grand Rapids Symphony and recorded the work for Koss. Since 1993 she has been Artistic Director of the Ravinia Institute, one of the country’s leading summer programs for young musicians. Her involvement there has included regular performances at the Ravinia Festival, including recitals and concerts with the Chicago Symphony.
Ms. Fried’s highly praised New York recitals of the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin were the culmination of three years of international performances. She recently returned to this music, recording the complete Sonatas and Partitas in France, which were released in the spring of 1999 on the Lyrinx label. She has also made a prize-winning recording of the Sibelius Concerto with the Helsinki Philharmonic under the direction of Okko Kamu, available on the Finlandia label, which has become a best-seller.
Chamber music plays an important role in Ms. Fried’s musical life. She was recently the first violinist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet and collaborates regularly with her son, pianist Jonathan Biss. Miriam Fried continues her impressive tenure as Artistic Director of the Steans Insitutes at Ravinia.
Miriam Fried plays a particularly noteworthy violin, a 1718 Stradivarius that is said to have been the favorite of its 18th-century owner, the composer-conductor Louis Spohr. It was also owned by Regina Strinasacchi who, it is thought, used the instrument to play with Mozart the Sonata in B-flat, K. 454, which had been written for her. A noted pedagogue, Miriam Fried is on the faculty of New England Conservatory and is invited to give master classes throughout the world.
Hsin-Yun Huang, viola
Hsin-Yun Huang has forged a career as one of the leading violists of her generation, performing on international concert stages, commissioning and recording new works, and nurturing young musicians. Ms. Huang has been soloist with the National Philharmonic of Taiwan, with which she performed the complete Hindemith concertos in 2013. Other concerto appearances have included the Berlin Radio Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic, Zagreb Soloists, ICE, and the London Sinfonia, among many others. She performs regularly at festivals, including Marlboro, Santa Fe, Rome Chamber Music Festival, and Spoleto USA. Other festivals include Moritzburg, Divonne, Cartagena, Prague Spring, Telluride, and Salt Bay. She tours extensively with the Brentano String Quartet, most notably including performances of the complete Mozart string quintets at Carnegie Hall.
The 2014-2015 season brought the debut of a series of three chamber concerts curated by Ms. Huang and presented by the 92nd Street Y. Other recent highlights include complete Hindemith Viola Concerti with the National Philharmonic of Taiwan; concerto appearances in the Alice Tully Hall and Central Park of New York City. Ms. Huang has in recent years embarked on a series of major commissioning projects for solo viola and chamber ensemble. To date, these works include compositions from Shih-Hui Chen (Shu Shon Key, which Ms. Chen also arranged for orchestra) and Steven Mackey (Groundswell), which premiered at the Aspen Festival. Ms. Huang’s 2012 recording, titled “Viola Viola,” for Bridge Records, included those works along with compositions by Elliott Carter, Poul Ruders, and George Benjamin; the CD has won particular accolades from Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine.
A native of Taiwan and an alumna of Young Concert Artists, Ms. Huang received degrees from The Juilliard School and The Curtis Institute of Music. She now serves on the faculties of both schools and has given master classes at the Guildhall School in London, the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, the San Francisco Conservatory, and the McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University. She served on the jury of the 2011 Banff International String Quartet Competition. Ms. Huang first came to international attention as the gold medalist and the youngest competitor in the 1988 Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition. In 1993 she was the top prize winner in the ARD International Competition in Munich, and was awarded the highly prestigious Bunkamura Orchard Hall Award. Ms. Huang was a member of the Borromeo String Quartet from 1994 to 2000. She is a founding member of the Variation String Trio with violinist Jennifer Koh and cellist Wilhelmina Smith. Ms. Huang is married to Misha Amory, violist of the Brentano String Quartet. They live in New York City with their two children, Lucas and Leah.
Marcy Rosen, cello
Marcy Rosen has established herself as one of the most important and respected artists of our day. Los Angeles Times music critic Herbert Glass has called her “one of the intimate art’s abiding treasures.” She has performed in recital and with orchestra throughout Canada, England, France, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, and all fifty of the United States. She made her concerto debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of eighteen and has since appeared with such noted orchestras as the Dallas Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony, the Caramoor Festival Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, the Jupiter Symphony and Concordia Chamber Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall, and the Tokyo Symphony at the famed Orchard Hall in Tokyo. In recital she has appeared in New York at such acclaimed venues as Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street “Y” and Merkin Concert Hall; in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center, Dumbarton Oaks, the Phillips Collection and the Corcoran Gallery, where for many years she hosted a series entitled “Marcy Rosen and Friends.” In recent seasons she has given Master Classes and appeared on stage in Beijing and Shanghai, China, the Seoul Arts Center in Korea and in Cartagena, Colombia.
A consummate soloist, Ms. Rosen’s superb musicianship is enhanced by her many chamber music activities. She has collaborated with the world’s finest musicians including Leon Fleisher, Richard Goode, Andras Schiff, Peter Serkin, Mitsuko Uchida, Isaac Stern, Robert Mann, Sandor Vegh, Kim Kashkashian, Jessye Norman, Lucy Shelton, Charles Neidich and the Juilliard, Emerson, and Orion Quartets. She is a founding member of the ensemble La Fenice, a group comprised of Oboe, Piano and String Trio, as well as a founding member of the world renowned Mendelssohn String Quartet. With the Mendelssohn String Quartet she was Artist-in-Residence at the North Carolina School of the Arts and for nine years served as Blodgett-Artist-in Residence at Harvard University. The Quartet which disbanded in January of 2010, toured annually throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe for 31 years.
She performs regularly at festivals both here and abroad, including the Caramoor, Santa Fe, Ravinia, Saratoga, and Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festivals, the Seattle International Music Festival, the Lockenhaus Kammermusikfest in Austria and the International Musicians Seminar in England. Since 1986 she has been Artistic Director of the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival in Maryland and as a long time participant at the Marlboro Music Festival she has taken part in twenty-one of their “Musicians from Marlboro” tours and performed in concerts celebrating the 40th and 50th and 60th Anniversaries of the Festival.
The recipient of many awards and prizes, Marcy Rosen twice won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, in 1981 with the Mendelssohn String Quartet and again in 1986, as a soloist. She was further honored by YCA with the Walker Fund Prize and the Mortimer Levitt Career Development Award. She is also the winner of the Washington International Competition for Strings and was the first recipient of the Mischa Schneider Memorial Award from the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation.
Marcy Rosen was born in Phoenix, Arizona and her teachers have included Gordon Epperson, Orlando Cole, Marcus Adeney, Felix Galimir, Karen Tuttle and Sandor Vegh. She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music. Ms. Rosen is currently Professor of Cello at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College and on the Faculty at the Mannes College of Music in New York City. She has also served on the faculties of the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Eastman School of Music, the New England Conservatory, and the University of Delaware.
Her performances can be heard on recordings from the BIS, Bridge. Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical, CBS Masterworks, Musical Heritage Society, Phillips, Nonesuch, Pro Arte, and Koch labels among others.