A multitude of renowned chamber music groups and soloists will headline the Eastman School of Music’s Eastman-Ranlet and Kilbourn Concert Series in the 2013-2014 season. Such internationally touring artists as pianist and Kennedy Center honoree Leon Fleisher, the Tetzlaff Quartet, and tenor Nicholas Phan are among the acclaimed musicians who will be performing on the stage of Kilbourn Hall.
The Eastman-Ranlet Series, which features outstanding quartets presenting works from the classical and contemporary string repertoire on Sundays at 3 p.m., opens on Oct. 6 with the St. Lawrence String Quartet. Since winning both the Banff International String Quartet Competition and Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 1992, the quartet has maintained a busy touring schedule throughout North America and Europe and has been described by critic Alex Ross as “remarkable not simply for the quality of their music making, exalted as it is, but for the joy they take in the act of connection.” Composed of founding members violinist Geoff Nuttall and violist Lesley Robertson, and cellist Christopher Costanza and violinist Scott St. John, the quartet is the ensemble in-residence at Stanford University.
The Eastman Ranlet Series continues on Nov. 17 with Eastman’s own quartet-in-residence, the Ying Quartet. Winners of the 1994 Naumburg Chamber Music Award and nominated for a Grammy three times, the group won the 2005 award for Best Classical Crossover Album for its work with the Turtle Island String Quartet on the album 4 + Four. The quartet’s diverse array of performance projects has included the series “No Boundaries,” a collaboration with dancers, multi-media artists, and actors in New York City. The quartet also works with up-and-coming composers through their LifeMusic commissioning project, supported by the Institute of American Music. While touring across the United States and abroad, the quartet members maintain faculty positions at the Eastman School of Music in the String and Chamber Music Departments.
The Ying Quartet returns and will be joined by pianist Leon Fleisher on Feb. 23, 2014. After his debut with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 16, Fleisher became the first American to win the Queen Elisabeth International Piano Competition eight years later in 1952. He subsequently appeared with every major orchestra and his collaborations with the Cleveland Orchestra produced many recordings, including performances of the Beethoven and Brahms Concertos. In the mid-1960s, two fingers on his right hand were immobilized with what was later diagnosed as focal dystonia, leading him to perform repertoire for solely the left hand. Fleisher’s Sony Classical recordings of repertoire for the left hand and the Ravel and Prokofiev Concertos earned two Grammy nominations. During this time period, he also served as artistic director of Tanglewood and conductor of the Annapolis and Baltimore Symphony Orchestras. After rehabilitation of his right hand, Fleischer released the critically acclaimed album Two Hands and made several other recordings. His numerous honors include Commander in the French Order of Arts and Letters, Musical America’s and the Royal Philharmonic Society’s “Instrumentalist of the Year,” and several honorary doctors. Fleisher received the 2007 Kennedy Center Honors for his contribution to U.S. culture.
The Eastman-Ranlet series wraps up on March 2, 2014, with the Pacifica Quartet. After they won numerous top competitions including the 1998 Naumburg Chamber Music Award, the Pacifica Quartet became the quartet-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 2009 to 2012. In 2009, the quartet was named “Ensemble of the Year” by Musical America and won a 2009 Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance.
The Kilbourn Concert Series, held on Tuesdays at 8 p.m., launches its new season with the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings on Oct. 15. The ensemble’s appearance will be a homecoming for trombonist Maury Okun, an Eastman graduate. With performances reaching from the United States to Switzerland, the 23-member group has commissioned 30 new works and released five recordings. Its collaborations and partnerships with Detroit area arts institutions have garnered awards and support from such institutions as the Hudson Webber Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the Kresge Foundation, and others. The ensemble has also received support from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan for its commitment to education outreach.
A week later, on Oct. 22, the Kilbourn Concert Series features the Tetzlaff Quartet. The quartet was formed in 1994 and has been called “one of the world’s most fascinating chamber ensembles” by La Nazione. Its members are also renowned soloists in their own right, performing with orchestras and chamber groups through Europe: Christian Tetzlaff and Elisabeth Kufferath, violin; Tanja Tetzlaff, cello; and Hanna Weinmeister, viola. The Tetzlaff Quartet appears at prominent music festivals such as Berliner Festwochen and Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival.
The Chicago Symphony Brass Quintet will be performing in Kilbourn Hall on Feb. 18, 2014. The quintet features two Eastman alumni on trumpet, Tage Larsen and Christopher Martin. The touring artists represent the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s distinct “Chicago sound” from their booming brass section. The CSO’s vast catalog of 900 recordings has earned them 62 Grammy Awards.
The Schumann Trio will join the series on March 4. Violist Michael Tree, an original member of the Guarneri Quartet, is joined by Anna Polonsky on piano and Anthony McGill on clarinet. After connecting at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Marlboro Music Festival, the members formed their trio in 2008 to explore the rich, and somewhat under-represented, repertoire for clarinet, piano, and viola or violin. The group has earned numerous kudos, including a Washington Post review that noted: “From the first notes of Mozart’s ‘Kegelstatt’ Trio, which opened a recital by the Schumann Trio at the Library of Congress on Thursday, the ensemble established its interpretive priorities: ravishing tone and keenly refined phrasing.”
The Kilbourn Concert Series concludes with Nicholas Phan singing music of Britten on March 18, joined by Gail Williams on French horn and Myra Huang on piano. National Public Radio named him one of its Favorite New Artists of 2011, describing Phan is as “..an artist who must be heard.” Considered one of the rising young stars of the opera world, Phan has also appeared with major orchestras in the United States and Great Britain. His first solo album, Winter Words, made “The Best of 2011” lists of The New York Times, The New Yorker, the Boston Globe, and other publications.
Series subscriptions are currently on sale and range from $48 to $74 and include all the concerts in each series. Individual tickets for individual concerts range from $15 to $25 and will go on sale after Oct. 1, if available. Tickets are available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, (585) 454-2100, or online at esm.rochester.edu/concerts.)
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