Showcase: Steal a Pencil for Me

December 1st, 2013 by Peter McDowell No comments »
January 16, 2014
7:30 pm

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Based on the book of the same title by Jaap Polak and Ina Soep Polak,
STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME is a new opera with music by Gerald Cohen and libretto by Deborah Brevoort.

A private presentation of excerpts from Steal a Pencil for Me will take place at the National Opera Center (at the home of Opera America, on 29th Street and 7th Avenue) on Thursday, January 16th at 7:30 pm. The showcase will include 40 minutes of live and video excerpts, as well as a discussion moderated by dramaturg Cori Ellison; features Ilana Davidson and Robert Balonek as Ina and Jaap, as well as vocal soloists Toby Newman and Cherry Duke.  Ari Pelto will conduct, with Lynn Baker as pianist. To request tickets, email Peter McDowell.

STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME is a love story set in two concentration camps during World War II. It is based on the true story of Jaap and Ina Polak, whom the composer has known for the last 25 years, and who recently celebrated their 100th and 90th birthdays. The Polaks, who live in Eastchester, NY, will be in attendance. In 2007, STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME was made into a compelling and award-winning documentary feature film by Academy Award® nominee Michèle Ohayon. The Polaks have dedicated their lives to teaching about the Holocaust and fighting prejudice. Jaap was one of the founders of the Anne Frank Center USA, and now serves as Chairman Emeritus.

New York-based composer Gerald Cohen (www.GeraldCohenMusic.com) is equally at home in the composition of chamber music, choral music, opera, and liturgical music, for all of which he has won awards and praise, and for which Gramophone Magazine noted his “linguistic fluidity and melodic gift”. His operas Sarah and Hagar, a two-act opera based on the story from the book of Genesis, and Seed, a one-act opera about love and choices for a post-apocalyptic Adam and Eve, have been performed in concert form. Cohen received a B.A in music from Yale University and a D.M.A in composition from Columbia University.

New York-based librettist Deborah Brevoort (www.DeborahBrevoort.com) is formerly from Alaska.  An award-winning playwright and librettistshe moves easily between the worlds of theatre, musical theatre and opera.  Her plays and musicals are produced regularly to enthusiastic reviews, including Time Out London who noted her “gift for high poetry.”  Deborah holds a B.A. from Kent State University and MFA’s from Brown University and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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The action of the opera takes place in Amsterdam, at Westerbork Transit camp, and at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp between the years of 1943-1945. Thirty-year old Jaap Polak is unhappily married to Manja, a social butterfly with a sharp tongue. He falls in love with twenty-year old Ina Soep, whose boyfriend, Rudi Acohen, has been seized and deported to Poland by the Nazis. When the husband, his wife, and his new girlfriend are deported to Westerbork, they actually find themselves living in the same barracks. Jaap’s wife objects to the relationship and Jaap and Ina resort to writing secret love letters, which sustain them throughout the horrible circumstances of the war. As Jaap says: “I’m a very special Holocaust survivor. I was in the camps with my wife and my girlfriend; and believe me, it wasn’t easy.”

Although friends and relatives of theirs, including Rudi, perished in the camps, Jaap and Ina survived the Holocaust. They have been married for over 65 years and now live in Eastchester, NY. A distinguishing feature of their book of letters is how they allowed the story to unfold; unedited; their shortcomings and faults are just as easy to see as their nobility, and their honesty makes the story compelling and real. The Village Voice wrote that their story “offers a corrective to the sentimental prevailing notion that the Shoah only happened to saints.”

 

Cellist Gabriel Cabezas Plays Tchaikovsky with the LA Phil

November 24th, 2013 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
December 6, 2013
8:00 pm

15th Annual Sphinx CompetitionOn Friday, December 6, at 8:00 pm, twenty-one-year-old cellist Gabriel Cabezas will perform with the world-renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic  in the magnificent sanctuary of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Fresh off a national tour with the Sphinx Virtuosi ensemble, Cabezas will perform as the soloist on Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations for Cello and Orchestra, the composer’s only piece for cello and orchestra.

The Wilshire Boulevard Temple (Glazer Campus) is located at 3663 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. Tickets are available here or by calling (213) 388-2401. 

 

FULL PROGRAM: 

Beethoven, Leonore Overture No. 2
Tchaikovsky, Rococo Variations for Cello and Orchestra
Dvorak, Symphony No. 8

program subject to change

Cellist Gabriel Cabezas has appeared as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, the National Symphony of Costa Rica, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the New World Symphony, and the Nashville Symphony, among others. Cabezas has been portrayed as “…an intense player who connects to the music naturally, without artifice, and brings a singing line to the cello” (David Stabler, The Oregonian) and his debut performance with the Cleveland Orchestra described as a “…remarkably poised and elegant account, with superb attention to phrasing, nuance and tonal coloration” (Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer).

A passion for chamber music and collaboration has taken him to Marlboro Music, Music@Menlo, Music from Angel Fire, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, Bargemusic, and Chicago’s Symphony Center Presents series. His television appearances include performances with Yo-Yo Ma at “The Tavis Smiley Show” and “Good Morning America”, and with Béla Fleck in “From The Top – Carnegie Hall.”

2013-14 season highlights include a subscription debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as a return to Chicago’s International Beethoven Festival and the annual Sphinx Virtuosi national tour. Cabezas’ 2012-13 engagements included concerts with the Detroit Symphony, the Nashville Symphony and the National Symphony of Costa Rica, as well as appearances with Musicians from Marlboro, at the International Beethoven Festival, and ChamberFest Cleveland.

Formerly a recipient of an Education Grant by the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation, Cabezas has supported music outreach and education programs including Midori’s Partners in Performance, the Sphinx Organization, Costa Rica’s national SINEM music education program, and Chicago’s Citizen Musician movement. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Carter Brey. As a writer, Cabezas has been featured in Teen Strings Magazine and has been a contributing writer for Strings Magazine.

 

Gabriel Cabezas Named Featured Soloist for CSO December Concert

November 15th, 2013 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
December 10, 2013
7:30 pm

CUR_4056On December 10 at 7:30 pm, twenty-one-year-old cellist Gabriel Cabezas will join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as the featured soloist in Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto. One of the most popular cello works ever written, the First Cello Concerto is a profound expression of struggle and triumph, its sardonic humor giving way to elegiac beauty. Symphony Hall is located at 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Tickets are available here or by calling 312-294-3000.

Cellist Gabriel Cabezas has appeared as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, the National Symphony of Costa Rica, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the New World Symphony, and the Nashville Symphony, among others. Cabezas has been portrayed as “…an intense player who connects to the music naturally, without artifice, and brings a singing line to the cello” (David Stabler, The Oregonian) and his debut performance with the Cleveland Orchestra described as a “…remarkably poised and elegant account, with superb attention to phrasing, nuance and tonal coloration” (Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer).

A passion for chamber music and collaboration has taken him to Marlboro Music, Music@Menlo, Music from Angel Fire, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, Bargemusic, and Chicago’s Symphony Center Presents series. His television appearances include performances with Yo-Yo Ma at “The Tavis Smiley Show” and “Good Morning America”, and with Béla Fleck in “From The Top – Carnegie Hall.”

2013-14 season highlights include a subscription debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as a return to Chicago’s International Beethoven Festival and the annual Sphinx Virtuosi national tour. Cabezas’ 2012-13 engagements included concerts with the Detroit Symphony, the Nashville Symphony and the National Symphony of Costa Rica, as well as appearances with Musicians from Marlboro, at the International Beethoven Festival, and ChamberFest Cleveland.

Formerly a recipient of an Education Grant by the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation, Cabezas has supported music outreach and education programs including Midori’s Partners in Performance, the Sphinx Organization, Costa Rica’s national SINEM music education program, and Chicago’s Citizen Musician movement. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Carter Brey. As a writer, Cabezas has been featured in Teen Strings Magazine and has been a contributing writer for Strings Magazine.

CFAS Presents Annual Winners Concert at Cultural Center

November 15th, 2013 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
November 24, 2013
3:00 pm

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Chicago, IL — The Chinese Fine Arts Society will present a free concert at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 at 3:00 pm. The Chicago Cultural Center is located at 78 E. Washington in Chicago. For more information, visit www.ChicagoCulturalCenter.org or www.ChineseFineArts.org. The 29th Annual Music Festival in Honor of Confucius Winners Concert, also part of the Cultural Center’s Sunday Salon Series, features First Place winners — cellists, pianists, violinists and Chinese Instrumentalists, ranging in age from 8-25. This year’s concert is in honor of CFAS lifetime member, repeat MFHC winner, and Coordinator of this year’s competition, Mimi Liu, who tragically passed away earlier this fall. The Chinese Fine Arts Society has established a new scholarship in the Piano Youth Division in Mimi’s name.

Works by Prokofiev, Liszt, Chopin, and Haydn are presented side by side with traditional and contemporary Chinese compositions. Performing winners include Eriko Darcy, Piano; Ifetayo Ali, Cello; Ruijing Han, Guzhen; Yerin Yang, Piano; Sean Choi, Piano; Zachary Brandon, Violin; Richard Li, Cello; William Tan, Cello; Sean Lee, Violin; and Caleb Kim, Piano.

This festival introduces participants to the rich heritage of Chinese music through competitions and scholarships. From a storefront operation at its inception, attracting just a handful of participants, the Music Festival has become a very popular musical event for musicians of all ages in Chicago. Music teachers welcome it; young musicians look forward to participating in it; the packed audience at the Winners Concerts enjoy and appreciate it. Alumni of this popular program — including Rachel Barton Pine and Conrad Tao — have gone on to attend music conservatories, and many have developed successful professional music careers.

Every fall, hundreds of young musicians perform Chinese music selected from our required repertoire, as well as a western piece of their choosing, for a panel of judges. The top scoring performers in each age category play in the annual Winners Concert at prestigious Preston Bradley Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center. The required repertoire reflects the beauty and breadth of the Chinese musical tradition and proves to be challenging and inspiring for the contestants. Since 1984, the Chinese Fine Arts Society, a small, fully-independent arts organization has brought together people from diverse backgrounds around a common goal: to celebrate the beauty and majesty of traditional and contemporary Chinese music and art. CFAS is dedicated to promoting the appreciation of Chinese culture, enhancing cultural exchange and pursuing excellence in Chinese music, dance and visual arts. For further information about the Chinese Fine Arts Society contact 312-369-3197 or info@chinesefinearts.org and visit www.ChineseFineArts.org.

RiteNow: The Composers

November 10th, 2013 by Peter McDowell No comments »

A one-time-only performance RiteNow: A Centennial Celebration of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring will take place at Woolsey Hall, 500 College Street (corner of College & Grove), New Haven, CT on November 17 at 8pm. Admission is free. Complete info is at www.RiteNowProject.com

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RiteNow will include works by composers Fay Kueen Wang, Justin Tierney, Matthew Welch, Benjamin Wallace, Daniel Schlosberg, Gleb Kanasevich, Polina Nazaykinskaya, and Paul Kerekes. Production designer Solomon Weisbard will create an immersive environmental design, and costumes will be created by Ksenia Zhuleva.

Complete composer bios are available at www.RiteNowProject.com. Here’s a summary:

Composer/performer Fay Wang’s music has been performed around Asia, Europe and USA, including the Berlin Concert House, the Arnold Schoenberg Center, Oper Graz, Yun Isang Memorial Hall, Beijing, Shanghai Concert Hall, Merkin Hall and Lincoln Center, with ensembles including the China Philharmonic Orchestra, Sinfonia Iuventus, RIAS Youth Orchestra, Dinosaur Annex, and a recent premiere by Bang On A Can All-Stars at NYC’s Ecstatic Music Festival.

The music of Matthew Tobin Welch (b.1976), Composer/Multi-instrumentalist, stems from a multi-faceted foundation. As a virtuoso of the Highland Bagpipe, he studied traditional music with Gold Medalist masters such as Colin MacLellan, Jack Lee, Angus MacLellan and Andrew Wright. Matthew also was a member of the four – time World Champion Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, winning with them in 1999 and 2001.

Justine Tierney‘s music was declared “superb, robust, and grand” by the Boston Globe who avowed that “Tierney’s dark-hued music had polished, ominous richness… and sound-worlds that were cogent and immediate.” A recent performance ofThe God’s Script was described as [one of] “two of the most compelling operas also draw on illustrious literary sources: … it sheathes in fierce, gorgeously orchestrated music a dramatization of Jorge Luis Borges’sLa Escritura del Dios.”

Ben Wallace, originally hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a New England based composer, pianist, percussionist, and conductor. His works have been performed at various venues in Cincinnati, New Haven, New York, Switzerland, and Albuquerque. He received his Bachelor of Music in 2011 from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati where he studied with Joel Hoffman, Michael Fiday, Mara Helmuth, and Al Otte of Percussion Group Cincinnati.

Polina Nazaykinskaya was born in Togliatti, Russia in 1987 and has been studying music since the age of 4. After graduating with honors from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Russia with concentrations in violin and composition, Polina earned her Masters of Music Degree from the Yale School of Music. Her professors at Yale included Christopher Theofanidis and Ezra Laderman. Currently Polina is pursuing Artist Diploma in composition at the Yale School of Music.

Composer and pianist Daniel Schlosberg (b. 1987) just completed his master’s degree and is currently pursuing his doctorate at the Yale School of Music. His works have been played by the Buffalo Philharmonic, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, New Morse Code, Yale Baroque Ensemble, Center City Opera Theater, and counter)induction. In July, his orchestral piece My reflection ran away with my eyes was featured at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, CA.

Gleb Kanasevich, a 2013 YSM graduate with MM in clarinet, has taken part in IRCAM’s 2013 AcademieManifeste and this year has had premiere performances at Spoleto Festival,soundSCAPE Festival, Atlantic Music Festival and Fundacion Music AntiquaNova in Argentina. He currently performs largely as a soloist and in duet with pianist Michael Sheppard under Chesapeake Concert Artists.

Paul Kerekes was born in Huntington, New York. His music has been described as “striking…ecstatic…dramatic” (WQXR), “highly eloquent” (New Haven Advocate), and able to create “an almost tactile picture” (The New York Times).