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by Mike Telin

Calder-QuartetAs their first “official” duty as Quartet-in-Residence at the Oberlin Conservatory, The Calder Quartet will present the inaugural concert of the 2014-15 Oberlin Artist Recital Series in Finney Chapel on Tuesday, September 30 beginning at 8:00 pm. The quartet will perform works by Adès, Janáček and Schubert.

The Calders, Benjamin Jacobson and Andrew Bulbrook, violins, Jonathan Moerschel, viola and Eric Byers, cello, will open the program with a work by one of the group’s favorite composers, Thomas Adès’s Arcadiana (1994) “We’ve been playing his music for a long time as well as working with him for seven years,” violinist Andrew Bulbrook said during a telephone conversation. “In fact we’re currently in the midst of editing a recording of his Piano Quintet, with Tom as the pianist. His quartet, The Four Quarters, which will be a world premiere recording, is also on the CD. Additionally, we have re-recorded Arcadiani from our first CD for this release. It’s a nice culmination of everything that we as a quartet have been working on with him.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Takacs-Quartet-2What’s better than getting to hear the Takács Quartet twice in a week? Getting to hear them three times within a month!

Violinists Edward Dusinberre and Károly Schranz, violist Geraldine Walther and cellist András Fejér gave the Cleveland Chamber Music Society a pair of electrifying evenings with the six Bartók quartets on March 17 and 18 at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights. Then, after concerts in Boston, Berkeley, Richmond, Charlottesville and Philadelphia, they returned to the area on April 13 to conclude this season’s Oberlin Artist Recital Series with a no-less riveting program of works by Shostakovich, Webern and Beethoven in Finney Chapel.

The Takács are a classy quartet who bring a fine sense of style and deep levels of absorption to everything they play. Read the rest of this entry »

Calder-Quartet

Before the Takács Quartet’s performance on April 13, Oberlin Conservatory Dean Andrea Kalyn announced dates for the forthcoming 136th Artist Recital Series. All performances will take place in Finney Chapel. Tickets will go on sale in the summer.

Tuesday, September 30 – The Calder Quartet
Tuesday, February 10 – Garrick Ohlsson, piano
Friday, February 20 – St. Lawrence Quartet
Saturday, February 28 – Bang on a Can All-Stars
Thursday, April 2 – John Relyea, bass-baritone
Sunday, April 12 – Jennifer Koh ’97, violin
Friday, April 24 – The Cleveland Orchestra, Susanna Mälkki, conducting, with Jeremy Denk ’90, piano

By Mike Telin

WALTHER-Geraldine“I think it’s going to be a great experience playing this program, especially in Finney Chapel”, Takacs Quartet violist Geraldine Walther told us by telephone from Colorado. “It’s a gorgeous place and we love playing there.”

On Sunday, April 13 beginning at 4:00 pm. Walther and her Takács colleagues Edward Dusinberre and Károly Schrantz, violins and András Fejér, cello, will perform quartets by Shostakovich, Webern and Beethoven as part of Oberlin College’s Artist Recital Series.

The Takács were recently in the area for performances of the complete Bartók Quartet cycle, but looking at their concert schedule you discover that it’s not unusual for them to be back on the road with an equally intense program.

“Yes, we do kind of go for the gusto,” Walther said laughing. “But it’s great and we do enjoy it a lot. The string quartet repertoire is such that you can’t just let a piece sit, you’ve got to look at it again and refresh it. So it’s a constant process of revisiting pieces. Even if it’s something that we’ve played two weeks prior, we do sit down and rehearse it.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

GRAHAM-Susan[Note: on Friday, April 4, Ms. Graham’s management announced the cancellation of her Oberlin concert and masterclass due to illness. The performance will not be rescheduled.]

Susan Graham, the vocalist Gramophone called “America’s favorite mezzo,” and pianist Bradley Moore will present recitals on Sunday, April 6 at 4:00 pm in Finney Chapel as part of Oberlin’s Artist Recital Series and on Thursday, April 10 at 7:30 pm in Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall as part of the Tuesday Musical Series.

Internationally acclaimed as an operatic singer and known for embracing a challenge, Susan Graham’s repertoire spans works from the 17th through the 21st centuries. She has earned critical accolades as well as a Grammy Award for her recording of Ives songs. Recognizing her commitment to French music, the French government awarded her the prestigious Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur.

The Oberlin and Akron performances will feature music that celebrates great women throughout history and literature, and spans from the Baroque period with Purcell’s Tell me, some pitying angel (The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation) through the 20th century with Poulenc’s song cycle, Fiançailles pour rire, and Joseph Horovitz’s Lady Macbeth. Read the rest of this entry »

by Allen Huszti, Guest Contributor

LI-George2Since 1878, Oberlin College’s Artist Recital Series has presented performances by some of the world’s finest musicians. On Saturday evening, March 1, the audience in Finney Chapel had the special opportunity to hear a recital by an artist just beginning his career. George Li was 14 when he won first-prize in Oberlin’s inaugural Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition in 2010. Now 18 and a joint student at Harvard and the New England Conservatory, Li has since won the prestigious Young Concert Artists auditions.

The first half of the recital included works by Beethoven and Schoenberg, the foremost composers of what we now call the First and Second Viennese Schools. Arnold Schoenberg’s, Sechs Kleine Klavierstücke (Six Little Piano Pieces), op. 19, opened the program. Together, the six pieces last only about four minutes and are excellent examples of expressionism in music — the kind of music that makes the listener hold his breath in wonder or awe. Li’s playing was marked by a high degree of sensitivity. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

LI-George2Since his First Prize win at the inaugural Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition in 2010 at age 14, American pianist George Li is quickly establishing himself as a young pianist to watch. On Saturday, March 1st beginning at 8:00 pm, in Finney Chapel, George Li will return to Oberlin for his debut performance on the Oberlin College Artist Recital Series. Li’s program includes Schoenberg’s Sechs Kleine Klavierstücke, op. 19, Beethoven’s Sonata No. 32 in c, op. 111, Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a theme of Corelli, op. 42 and Ravel’s La Valse.

Praised by the Washington Post for combining “staggering technical prowess, a sense of command and depth of expression, Li was also a First Prize Winner in the 2010 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. In 2012 Li won the Gilmore Young Artist Award and received the Tabor Foundation Piano Award at the Verbier Academy. He has performed as soloist with orchestras including the Spartanburg Philharmonic, the Akron Symphony, the Xiamen Philharmonic in China, the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Venezuela to name a few. Li’s 2013-14 season include recitals at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and he appears as soloist with the Richmond Symphony, the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, and the Nordic Chamber Orchestra. He is currently in the Harvard University/ New England Conservatory joint program. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Imani2Downsizing seems to be one of the buzz concepts of our era, but the ever-game-for-a-challenge Imani Winds took the idea to a new level of miniaturization on Sunday afternoon in Oberlin’s Finney Chapel, when that excellent woodwind quintet, performing on the Artist Recital Series, impressed the sox off a good-sized audience with their ear-boggling performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in an arrangement by Jonathan Russell.

Well, OK, not the whole piece, but Russell gives the quintet a good twenty-minutes worth of Stravinsky’s score redeployed for flute (and piccolo), oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon, and it worked. In her introduction, oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz noted that the audience would be able to hear inner details that had heretofore been “covered up by loud percussion and obnoxious brass — you know who you are!” she joked to the balconies where some of those blushing conservatory offenders were sure to be found. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hautzinger

Imani2It’s just badass,” said Imani Winds bassoonist Monica Ellis about Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which Imani will perform on February 9 in Oberlin’s Finney Chapel as part of the ensemble’s concert on the Artist Recital Series. “It’s this huge iconic piece that’s been pared down to a quintet, which is crazy in and of itself. Behind all that is this crazy cool rhythmic action, melodic action.”

All that “crazy cool rhythmic action” is one thing that connects The Rite of Spring to much of Imani’s repertoire. In addition to Ellis, the quintet consists of oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz, clarinetist Mariam Adam, flutist Valerie Coleman, and French hornist Jeff Scott. They often perform works from outside the traditional classical repertoire, especially focusing on African-American and Latin composers. “We’re attracted to this music because it’s close to us, it has soulful qualities, it’s ‘jazzy.’ It has a story behind it. Things that have a backbeat, a driving rhythm, are fun to play.”

Sunday’s concert program is in some ways an overview of Imani’s repertoire. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Ma-at-Oberlin-112013-(Mastroianni)Not only did international superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma sell out Finney Chapel for his appearance on the Oberlin Artist Recital Series Wednesday evening, he packed them into Warner Concert Hall as well, where an overflow crowd witnessed his masterful recital via simulcast.

Ma, who last appeared at Oberlin before its current students were born*, put together an unusual but engaging program that reflected some of his wide-ranging musical tastes. He also managed to serve up dessert before the main course — who doesn’t like that to happen once in a while — and only one item on his playlist was originally written for the cello. I heard the recital in Finney Chapel.

Saving two substantial works for the second half, Ma and his superb, longtime and apparently clairvoyant collaborator, pianist Kathryn Stott, launched the evening with delightful readings of Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, then a made-up suite of pieces by Villa-Lobos (Alma Brasileira), Piazzolla (Oblivion) and Camargo Guarnieri (Dansa Negra) arranged by Jorge Calandrelli (Villa-Lobos and Guarnieri) and Kyoko Yamamoto (Piazzolla), and finally, Manuel de Falla’s 7 Canciones Populares Españolas. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

MA-Yo-YoI can’t say that I don’t lead an interesting life,” cellist, humanitarian and Silk Road Project founder Yo-Yo Ma says with a laugh. “It’s sometimes a little crazy and when that happens I just need to look at myself and say, I am the one responsible for it and I can’t blame anybody but myself.”

On Wednesday, November 20 beginning at 8:00 pm in Finney Chapel, the Oberlin College Artist Recital Series presents Yo-Yo Ma and his long time collaborator, pianist Kathryn Stott, in a concert featuring the music of Stravinsky, Villa Lobos, Piazzolla, Guarnieri, de Falla, Messiaen and Brahms. The concert is sold out.

Yo-Yo Ma is a person who enjoys building relationships and finding common ground with everyone he meets, and it their mutual love of travel that he attributes to the long collaborative relationship he has enjoyed with Kathryn Stott. Ma and Stott have been sharing stages since 1985 and together won Grammy Awards in 1999 and 2004.

Kathy loves adventures and we get along famously well. She is an incredible person and musician and she probably loves traveling or has traveled more then I have,” Ma says. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

KONDONASSIS-YolandaI don’t know what it is about Ravel’s music that resonates with me so much,” says harpist Yolanda Kondonassis. “But it’s like that hopeful melancholy, yet it’s so full of energy at the same time.” On Tuesday, November 5 at 8:00 pm in Finney Chapel, the Oberlin Artist Recital Series begins its 2013-14 season with Ravel: Intimate Masterpieces, featuring some of the composer’s most sublime works: Introduction et Allegro, Cinq Mélodies Populaires Grecques, Chansons madécasses and the String Quartet in F. In addition to Kondonassis, performers include Ellie Dehn, soprano, Richard Hawkins, clarinet, Spencer Myer, piano, Alexa Still, flute and the Jupiter String Quartet.

The concert, inspired by a recent recording by the performers, all of whom have an Oberlin connection, was a project that was a long time in the making largely due to logistics, Kondonassis told us by telephone.

But I never shy away from a complicated project. I play the harp, so complication is my specialty.” She also says that this particular group of pieces is music that never gets old. “I don’t know if this combination of works has ever been recorded on one album. But I think Ravel achieves such a particular atmosphere of music in his more intimate combinations.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Nicholas Jones

AFJSConductingIn its concerts this weekend, Apollo’s Fire burnt bright with the intensity of the mature Haydn and the brilliance of the young Mozart (not that he was ever old, alas!)

This winter has seen Cleveland’s baroque orchestra presenting “intimate” concerts of Vivaldi and Bach with reduced forces, perhaps for budget reasons. By contrast, this concert assembled a big band—almost thirty instrumentalists—fitting for late 18th-century operatic and symphonic literature. The investment in such a richness of talent paid off in an extraordinary mixture of precision, energy, and richness.

Full string sections were backed by pairs of natural horns and paired woodwinds—baroque bassoons, oboes, and flutes. In Oberlin’s Finney Chapel—acoustically clear and relatively dry—the group could play at faster tempos than in the resonant churches in which Apollo’s Fire normally performs, and with a tighter sense of ensemble.

This was Apollo’s Fire at its best: crisp, exciting, and beautifully transparent. Bass lines energized the music from below; in the middle, inner voices shone through with ease; oboes, flutes, and violins dazzled with rapid and always-varying intricacies. Read the rest of this entry »

Cooper-2012-ThreeSome of the most promising young musicians in the world will perform in Finney Chapel on April 11 at 7:00 pm as a bonus event in Oberlin College’s Artist Recital Series (ARS). The performance features piano and violin laureates of the annual Thomas & Evon Cooper International Competition, which alternates between violin and piano from year to year.

Conservatory Dean David H. Stull said, “The Cooper Competition has done a wonderful job of bringing the top young talent from around the world in both piano and violin to the Oberlin Campus. The final three each year have also had the opportunity to perform with The Cleveland Orchestra. We are bringing them back to the Oberlin campus to have a series of professional experiences that they are all excited about. And to give them an opportunity to perform again. This is a chance for them to get to know Oberlin and for us to get to know then as students.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

WithLeipzig-Oberlin-Mastroianni all of the exceptional repertoire to choose from, why is it that an all-Beethoven string quartet recital still excites audiences and players? “The quartet has performed a lot of complete cycles of composers such as Mendelssohn and Brahms or Mozart, and if you compare the possibilities, you have to realize that Beethoven is the top of the top,” says Leipzig String Quartet cellist Matthias Moosdorf. The quartet, who are currently touring seventeen Beethoven quartets, will perform a concert on Sunday, March 3 at 4:00 pm in Finney Chapel at Oberlin as part of the Oberlin Artist Recital Series.

You can combine any piece with another and it works perfectly, especially when taken from the early, from the middle and from the late periods’” Moosdorf said in a phone conversation from Leipzig. “But it doesn’t matter which quartets you choose because in the end, the result will be a fantastic evening.” Moosdorf will be joined by his Leipzig colleagues Stefan Arzberger & Tilman Büning, violins, and violist Ivo Bauer, in performances of the Quartet in B-flat, op. 18, no. 6, “La Maliconia”,Quartet in f, op. 95,“Serioso” and the Quartet in E-flat, op. 127Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

On Tuesday evening February 2, the Tuesday Musical Association of Akron will present violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk at the University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall. This performance marks the beginning of a five-week, 20-concert tour of the US. A second performance at Oberlin on Wednesday, February 3 is sold out.

We were curious to know how two musicians handle the rigors of being on the road for extended periods of time, as well as the musical decisions that go into programming and performing an intense series of recitals, which is different from being the guest soloist with an orchestra. We reached each artist separately by phone.

Joshua Bell
Mike Telin: We are looking forward to your two performances in Northeast Ohio next week

Joshua Bell: Yes, I’m really looking forward to starting my tour there. That will be the beginning of a five-week recital tour around the country so. We’ll be starting out in Akron and then in Oberlin the next night.

MT: Yes, I was looking at your schedule, and although this tour in the States is only five weeks, you seem to be very busy until the end of May.

JB: That’s right, but for me, basically it doesn’t stop because the beginning of June I go to Asia, and then the summer tour starts. So basically it never stops. Read the rest of this entry »

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STAFF
Daniel Hathaway
founder & editor
Mike Telin
executive editor
Jarrett Hoffman
assistant to the editors

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James Flood
J.D. Goddard
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Nicholas Jones
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