Music in May, 2019 Season
Saturday, May 25, 2019
Saariaho “Tocar”: Jennifer Koh, Thomas Sauer
Beethoven String Trio Op. 9, No. 2 in D Major: Jennifer Koh, Dimitri Murrath, Wilhelmina Smith
Dvorak “Dumky” Piano Trio No. 4, Op. 90: Rebecca Jackson, Jonah Kim, Elizabeth Schumann
Sunday, May 26, 2019
L. Boulanger “D’un soir triste” Piano Trio: Rebecca Jackson, Jonah Kim, Elizabeth Schumann
Debussy String Quartet: Jennifer Koh, Rebecca Jackson, Dimitri Murrath, Wilhelmina Smith
Faure G Minor Piano Quartet: Jennifer Koh, Dimitri Murrath, Wilhelmina Smith, Thomas Sauer
- Rebecca Jackson, violin (David Arben Endowed Chair)
- Guest Artist Jennifer Koh, violin
- Wilhelmina Smith, cello
- Dimitri Murrath, viola
- Jonah Kim, cello
- Thomas Sauer, piano
- Elizabeth Schumann, piano
- Community Engagement
Musicologist in Residence
Founder and artistic director of Music in May, Rebecca Jackson is a 2018 KSBW Jefferson Award honoree. Acting member of San Francisco Ballet and Santa Fe Opera Orchestras, she also is founding member of Ensemble San Francisco. Believing strongly in the power of music to heal and unite, she has performed in many marginalized communities across the U.S., Ukraine, Romania, Dominican Republic, Haiti, India, Nepal, Costa Rica, and most recently into Said Gawash and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon. Combining her passion for music and service, she is co-founder of Sound Impact. Set to release this spring, in collaboration with her father, she is writing the authorized biography of her mentor David Arben, imprisoned in many Nazi death camps and former associate concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ms. Jackson received her B.M. from The Juilliard School and a graduate degree from UC Santa Cruz.
Violinist Jennifer Koh is recognized for intense, commanding performances, delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance. A forward-thinking artist, she is dedicated to exploring a broad and eclectic repertoire, while promoting diversity and inclusivity in classical music. She has expanded the contemporary violin repertoire through a wide range of commissioning projects, and has premiered more than 70 works written especially for her. Her quest for the new and unusual, sense of endless curiosity, and ability to lead and inspire a host of multidisciplinary collaborators, truly set her apart.
Ms. Koh continues her critically acclaimed series, including The New American Concerto, Limitless, Bach and Beyond, Shared Madness, and Bridge to Beethoven this season. The New American Concerto is an ongoing, multi-season commissioning project that explores the form of the violin concerto and its potential for artistic engagement with contemporary societal concerns and issues through commissions from a diverse collective of composers. Two concertos have thus far been premiered as part of the project: Vijay Iyer’s Trouble (2017) and Chris Cerrone’s Breaks and Breaks (2018). This season she performs Trouble with the Louisiana Philharmonic and Vermont Symphony Orchestras. She also performs a broad range of concertos that reflects the breadth of her musical interests, from traditional repertoire to music of this millennium, with such ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, and Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, in addition to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Ms. Koh also performs music from her Limitless project with pianist Vijay Iyer and percussionist Tyshawn Sorey, both commissioned as part of this project exploring the relationship between composer and performer through duo works played by Ms. Koh and the composers themselves; Bridge to Beethoven, in which she joins pianist Shai Wosner in pairing Beethoven’s violin sonatas with new works inspired by them; Bach and Beyond, which traces the history of the solo violin repertoire from Bach’s sonatas and partitas to pieces by 20th– and 21st-century composers; and Shared Madness, comprising short works that explore virtuosity in the 21st century, commissioned from over 30 composers.
Ms. Koh is an active lecturer, teacher, and recording artist. She has residencies this season at Cornell and Tulane Universities, during which she will perform, give master classes, and speak on topics from diversity to contemporary composition. Her album of works by Kaija Saariaho, a close collaborator whose music she has long championed, will be released by Cedille in November.
Named Musical America’s 2016 Instrumentalist of the Year, Ms. Koh has won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Concert Artists Guild Competition, and an Avery Fisher Career Grant. She has a BA in English literature from Oberlin College and studied at the Curtis Institute, where she worked extensively with Jaime Laredo and Felix Galimir. She is the Artistic Director of arco collaborative, an artist-driven nonprofit that fosters a better understanding of our world through a musical dialogue inspired by ideas and the communities around us. For more information, visit jenniferkoh.com.
Cellist Wilhelmina Smith was awarded a 2015-2016 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Performing Musicians. She made her solo debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra while a student at the Curtis Institute of Music and in 1997 was a prizewinner in the Leonard Rose International Cello Competition. She has gone on to solo with orchestras including the Orquesta Millenium of Guatemala and the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia and has performed recitals across the US and Japan. A strong supporter of new music, she has worked frequently with composers such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, with whom she collaborated to performed his cello concerto, Mania, and gave the American premiere of his solo cello work, Knock, Breathe, Shine. Her recording of solo cello works by Salonen and Kaija Saariaho will be released in Spring of 2019 by the Ondine label.
As a chamber musician, Ms. Smith has performed with Paul Tortelier, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Pamela Frank, Dawn Upshaw, Benita Valente and members of the Guarneri, Juilliard, Brentano, Miami, Borromeo and Galimir String Quartets in venues across the US and Europe. She has been a guest artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Boston Chamber Music Society, and is a founding member of Music from Copland House. In 2005, she formed the Variation String Trio with violinist Jennifer Koh and violist Hsin-Yun Huang, a group that has performed across the US and Europe. She is founder and Artistic Director of Salt Bay Chamberfest on the coast of Maine.
Ms. Smith’s solo CD of sonatas by Britten and Schnittke with pianist Thomas Sauer was released on the Arabesque label in 2006. Her recordings of chamber music include the complete chamber works of Aaron Copland, works by Sebastian Currier, John Musto and Aaron Jay Kernis. She has performed frequently with pop musician Sting and can be heard on recent recordings for both Sting and Bruce Springsteen. She currently lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her husband Mark Mandarano and children August and Giovanna.
Born in Brussels, Belgian American violist Dimitri Murrath has made his mark as a soloist on the international scene, performing regularly in venues including Jordan Hall and the Kennedy Center in the United States, Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room and Royal Festival Hall in London, Tokyo’s Kioi Hall, the National Auditorium in Madrid, and Theatre de la Ville de Paris. His first solo album, “Beginnings” was released in the fall of 2017 and features the viola music of Henri Vieuxtemps, Rebecca Clarke and Paul Hindemith.
Mr. Murrath received the 2014 Avery Fisher Career Grant which gives professional assistance to instrumentalists judged to have exceptional career potential. He graduated from the New England Conservatory in 2008, the same year he won First Prize at the Primrose Viola Competition. Other awards include second prize at the First Tokyo International Viola Competition and special prize for contemporary work at the ARD Munich Competition. In 2012, He was named Laureate of the Juventus Festival, an award recognizing young European soloists.
An avid chamber musician, Mr. Murrath is a member of the Boston Chamber Music Society. He has collaborated with musicians including Richard Goode, Miriam Fried, Gidon Kremer, Laurence Lesser, Menahem Pressler, David Soyer, Mitsuko Uchida, Donald Weilerstein, and Kim Kashkashian, his tutor at the New England Conservatory. He has performed in festivals that include Ravinia’s Steans Institute for Young Artists, Verbier Festival Academy, Caramoor Rising Stars, ChamberFest Cleveland, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Juventus Festival, and Marlboro Music Festival.
Dimitri Murrath is on the viola and chamber music faculty at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Prior to that, he taught at the New England Conservatory for 8 years. He participates in the Music for Food Project, that raises awareness of the hunger problem faced by a large percentage of the world’s population, and provides an opportunity to experience the powerful role music can play as a catalyst for change.
Grammy winning artist Jonah Kim made his solo debut with Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2003. The same year, he also appeared with the National Symphony Orchestra where the Washington Post music critic Joseph McLellan called him simply, “the next Yo-Yo Ma.” Mr. Kim has soloed with the Atlantic Classical Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, New Philharmonia, Orquestra Sinfônica Nacional, Orchestra Filarmonica, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Symphony of the Americas and many others. He has played in prestigious venues such as New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Merkin Hall, Wigmore Hall in London, California’s Montalvo Arts Center, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, the Kravis Center in Palm Beach, the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, the Phillips Collection and the John F. Kennedy Center in DC where Anne Midgette of the Washington Post praised, “Kim flirted with the line, shaped it, wrapped it around his fingers, pulled it out in a new dimension, all with practiced ease.”
Highly sought after internationally as a chamber musician, Mr. Kim is a founding member of the “hip, unstuffy, and malleable group” Ensemble San Francisco. He frequents festivals like the Atlantic Music Festival, Bari International Music Festival, Cactus Pear Music Festival, Chamber Music Silicon Valley, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Music in May Santa Cruz, and San Luis Obispo’s Festival Mozaic. As a fellow at the Curtis Institute, he studied the piano trio literature extensively with his trio with prize winning violinist Chen Xi and piano sensation Yuja Wang. Since then, he has collaborated with world class artists on four continents, sharing the stage with Elmar Oliveira, Jon Nakamatsu, Martin Beaver, Bella Hristova, Ian Swensen, Scott Yoo and Chee-Yun Kim in recent seasons. In a review of his Debussy cello sonata with Ensemble San Francisco at Alliance Français’ French Festival 2015, San Francisco Classical Voice critic David Bratman exclaimed “this was an excellent performance, the best I’ve heard of this piece.”
A fixture at top studios such as Skywalker Sound and the Hit Factory, Mr. Kim has won two Grammy Awards. He records across a spectrum of genres and collaborates live in concert with artists like Andrea Bocelli, Mariah Carey, Cristian Castro, Vic Damone, Kenny Rogers and Kip Winger to name a few. Dedicated to sharing music in ways that positively impact and heal people in need, Mr. Kim is very active in community outreach. He volunteers at schools, hospitals, assisted living facilities, religious institutions and even juvenile detention centers, connecting not only through performance, but also in a more personable capacity in musical therapy sessions and spiritual gatherings. His teaching in masterclass settings have been described as “captivating and hilarious… relevant to not only musicians, resonating with all walks of life.” Mr. Kim is the youngest instructor at CelloSpeak, a cello retreat at Bryn Mawr College, where he has lectured and experimented with teaching methods for the last six years. He plays a Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume cello made in 1845 generously on loan, as well as a 2016 Haide Lin, a gold medal winning instrument at the Indianapolis Violin Society of America Competition. His bow was made in 1904 by Jules Fetique à Paris.
Pianist Thomas Sauer is a highly sought after soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. Recent appearances include concerto performances with the Quad-City and Tallahassee Symphonies and the Greenwich Village Orchestra; solo performances at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium), Merkin Concert Hall, Rockefeller University, and St. John’s College, Oxford; appearances on Broadway as the pianist in 33 Variations, a play about the composition of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations; and performances at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. With his long-time duo partner Colin Carr, Mr. Sauer has appeared at the Wigmore Hall (London), Holywell Music Room (Oxford), the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Musikgebouw, Bargemusic (New York City), the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), Da Camera (Houston), and Princeton University, among many other venues. Other appearances include recitals with Midori at the Philharmonie in Berlin and the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels; performances with members of the Juilliard String Quartet at the Library of Congress; and numerous concerts with the Brentano String Quartet.
Mr. Sauer has performed at many of the leading festivals in the United States and abroad, including Marlboro, Caramoor, Music@Menlo, Chamber Music Northwest, El Paso Pro Musica, Aloha International Piano Festival, and the Chamber Music Festivals of Seattle, Taos, Four Seasons (North Carolina), Portland and Salt Bay (Maine); as well as Lake District Summer Music (England), Agassiz International Chamber Music Festival (Canada), Festival des Consonances (France), and Esbjerg International Chamber Music Festival (Denmark).
Mr. Sauer’s varied discography includes recordings of Beethoven and Haydn piano sonatas for MSR Classics; with Colin Carr, the complete cello and piano works of Mendelssohn on Cello Classics and complete Beethoven on MSR Classics; a disc of Hindemith sonatas with violist Misha Amory (Musical Heritage Society); music of Britten and Schnittke with cellist Wilhelmina Smith on Arabesque; music of Ross Lee Finney with violinist Miranda Cuckson for Centaur Records; music of James Matheson on Yarlung Records; and violin sonatas of Mozart with Aaron Berofsky for Blue Griffin Recordings. In recent seasons, Mr. Sauer has premiered works by Philippe Bodin, Robert Cuckson, Sebastian Currier, Brian Fennelly, Keith Fitch, David Loeb, Donald Martino, Suzanne Sorkin, David Tcimpidis, and Richard Wilson.
A member of the music faculty of Vassar College and the piano faculty of the Mannes College, Mr. Sauer was the founder and for fifteen years director of the Mannes Beethoven Institute, and is co-Artistic Director of Chamber Music Quad Cities. A graduate of the Curtis Institute, Mannes College of Music and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, his major teachers included Jorge Bolet, Edward Aldwell, and Carl Schachter.
Pianist Elizabeth Schumann has a diverse career portfolio of projects, recordings, and performances which have brought her all over the world as recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist. The Washington Post noted her playing as “deft, relentless, and devastatingly good—the sort of performance you experience not so much with your ears as your solar plexus.”
The first place winner of both the Bösendorfer International Piano Competition and the Pacific International Piano Competition, Elizabeth has won over 25 prizes and awards in other major national and international competitions, including the Cleveland International Piano Competition and the Hilton Head International Piano Competition. Elizabeth was honored with the prestigious Gilmore Young Artists Award, and was highlighted in a PBS Television documentary on the Gilmore Festival.
She has performed solo recitals and chamber music concerts worldwide, in such venues as the Kennedy Center, Vienna’s Bösendorfer Saal, Toronto’s Koerner Hall, and Montreal’s Place des Arts. Featured at the International UNICEF benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina Victims, the Cannes Film Festival, the Gilmore Festival, Australia’s Huntington Festival, the Musica Viva chamber music series, the Ravinia “Rising Stars” Series, and National Public Radio’s “Performance Today”, her recitals have been broadcast live on public radio and television in cities around the world, including Washington D.C., New York, Sydney, Cleveland, Montréal, Dallas, and Chicago. Elizabeth gave the world premiere performance of Carl Vine’s Sonata No. 3, which the composer dedicated to her.
Passionate about creating public access to the arts, Elizabeth founded Piano Theatre, an artist group formed to engage audiences with innovative combinations of classical music, theatre, literature, art and technology. Piano Theatre’s recent tours of the US, Canada and Australia were acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. Elizabeth founded and is president of Project Classical, Inc.¸ a 501(c)(3)organization whose mission is to support artist led initiatives that encourage public education and appreciation of classical music. Concerned with the declining funding for arts education in the United States, Elizabeth devised and directed Piano Carnival, a project to introduce free, high quality classical concert music to children in areas without arts education.
Elizabeth is on the faculty of Toby and Itzhak Perlman’s Perlman Music Program and is director of the Schumann Music Studio in San Francisco.
MiM provides youth with an intimate front seat pass to interactive performances, striving to ignite the creative soul and provide aural landscapes that uplift and inspire each young listener. Each season, in the months leading up to the mainstage concerts, MiM presents FREE programs for youth, with focus on the underserved, throughout our county.
Kai Christiansen is a musicologist specializing in classical chamber music. Based in San Francisco, Mr. Christiansen writes and lectures throughout the Bay areas working regularly with such organizations as Music at Kohl Mansion, Monterey Bay Chamber Music, Music in May and the San Francisco Community Music Center as well as a number of international chamber music presenters. Leveraging a multi-decade career in software engineering and technical training, Mr. Christiansen is also the founder of earsense.org, an extensive online chamber music exploratorium featuring one of the world’s most comprehensive databases of chamber music literature spanning 500 years of history. While living in Santa Cruz for over a decade, Mr. Christiansen hosted a weekly radio show on KAZU in Pacific Grove, an educational exploration of Blues and Jazz. For relaxation, Kai plays cello and guitar for his cat.