Emile Naoumoff & Yau Cheng release new album

Gouvy: Sonatas for Piano Four Hands

Emile Naoumoff & Yau Cheng

 

emile naoumoffFeaturing pianists Emile Naoumoff and Yau Chang, this Grand Piano release showcases three Sonatas for piano four hands by the prolific composer and eminent member of Frances musical establishment in the later 19th c., Louis Theodore Gouvy (1819-98).  These works, all written in the 1860s, reveal considerable technical command as well as flowing elegance, some of it reminiscent of Schubert and Schumann.  Gouvys considerable uvre, including a large body of four-hand piano music, has been undergoing critical reconsideration and something of a revival on record in recent years.

NOW AVAILABLE!

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/gouvy-sonatas-for-piano-4/id925502930

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Louis-Theodore-Gouvy-Sonatas-Piano/dp/B00NWZIQ4M

Naxos: http://www.naxos.com/ecard/grandpiano/GP676/

 

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Jacobs professor inducted into Hall of Fame

By Alison Graham & Audrey Perkins

 

Jacobs School of Music professor and pianist Andre Watts has been inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame.

Located in Cincinnati, the American Classical Music Hall of Fame was founded in 1996, according to its website. The organization “seeks to build and sustain enthusiasm for classical music in America by celebrating diverse facets of classical music excellence.”

Past inductees include Gustav Mahler, Antonin Dvorak, George Gershwin and Yo-Yo Ma.

Andre Watts

Andre Watts

Watts has played before royalty in Europe and heads of government in nations all around the world, according to the organization’s website. Watts received a 2011 National Medal of Arts, given by the President of the United States to “individuals who are deserving of special recognition for their outstanding contributions to the excellent growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States.”

Watts first entered the music world at 16, according to the organization’s website, when Leonard Bernstein chose him to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic in its Young People’s Concerts.

The concert was broadcast nationwide on CBS-TV. Two weeks later, Bernstein asked Watts to substitute for Glenn Gould at the last minute in performances of Liszt’s E-flat Concerto with the New York Philharmonic. This moment, according to the American classical Music Hall of Fame, was when Watt’s career launched in storybook fashion.

Watts joined the music school in 2004 as a faculty member, according to the school’s website.

Watts is an active musician and continues to give numerous performances around the world. He makes regular visits to major summer music festivals, including Ravinia, Tanglewood, Saratoga, the Mann Music Center, Mostly Mozart and the Hollywood Bowl.

The pianist joins fellow professor and pianist Menahem Pressler, who was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame on Sept. 9.

Watts received his honor during his concert Oct. 24 at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, according to the Jacobs School of Music.

“What a pleasure to accept something given to my trio, which I still dearly, dearly love,” Pressler said in a press release. “And knowing that André also received it makes the award even sweeter and more 
important to me.”

Watts was also awarded the MacDowell Medal at the Oct. 24 concert from the Cincinnati MacDowell 
Society.

The Cincinnati MacDowell Society is the oldest group honoring American composer Edward MacDowell, who composed during the Romantic Period and died in 1908.

 

© Indiana Daily Student 2014

 

 

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Menahem Pressler on the Adventure of Practicing

by Monique Mead

 

It was during a performance of the legendary pianist Menahem Pressler that I stopped wondering how it would feel to be in the presence of God.

menham presslerNo, it was not the pianist’s imposing stature or powerful performance that invoked images of divine grandeur — quite the opposite, in fact. I was witnessing the diminutive figure of a 90-year-old whose artistry transcended the parameters of music: notes, phrasing, and technique dissolved into a realm of subtle magnificence, connecting me with the very essence of music.

The baggage of my musical life fell away and I was reawakened to the powerful emotional imprint of my earliest musical experiences and my consuming passion for learning the violin. Once again I connected with why I had wanted to become a musician.

Having heard thousands of concerts in my lifetime, the significance of this experience was not lost on me, and I could not let him leave without finding out the source of his magic. Where was he coming from? What was he connecting with that I was not?

Fortunately, Mr. Pressler was gracious enough not only to speak to me privately, but also to share his “secrets” in a taped on-stage interview. I publish it here (linked below) with his blessing, in hopes that others will also be inspired by the extraordinary spirit of this great musician. After speaking with him, I came across a quote that encapsulates him perfectly: “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”  –Mahatma Gandhi.

 

On making a career in music (Listen to the quote: 2:10)

“You don’t have to be a concertizing artist…you can sit in a small town and teach and find not only satisfaction in teaching, but feeling that when you transmit music to someone else and reach their lives you have really done something in your life. Therefore, your life is important because you bring so much.”

On teaching amateurs (Listen to the quote: 4:19)

“Amateurs – the word come from “amare,” from loving – that means they love music. I wish that all the professionals would love music….It is real, it can touch you, it can move you. It can inspire. Life is out there, there is a great deal missing….But the truth is, the real greatness in living is being able to feel, when you are able to feel you feel friendship, you feel love, you feel connection.”

On practicing (Listen to the quote: 6:33)

“Practicing I think is a wonderful thing. I must admit I belong to the very few who love to practice….really practicing is an adventure. Really practicing means to find out. Practicing is what to a scientist is research, to what a writer is research. Or to an architect is looking at other buildings and coming to his own conclusions. Practicing is not drudgery. It is difficult sometimes – especially if you’re married, if you teach. You find the time. Yes, you have to find the time. Yes, you have to somehow sacrifice in finding it. Practicing is very solitary, you are not a social person at that point. You are there, devoting yourself to be able to find the answers for yourself….”

Where does Menahem Pressler go for inspiration?

Pressler’s response was not what I was expecting! Listen to his quote at 6:00….

Follow the link to listen to the full interview!

https://soundcloud.com/center-for-arts-innovatio/mead-pressler-interview

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Two Pianists appear on Silvemine Artists Series

Matt & MeeyounMatthew Gianforte (MM ’02, DM ’09) and Meeyoun Park,(who holds her Master’s of Music degree, Performer’s Diploma, and Doctoral degree in piano performance under the guidance of Karen Shaw at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music)both graduates of the Jacobs School of Music, and students of Karen Shaw, appeared in a program on Oct 26th of both solo and duo-piano repertoire.

Both young artists serve on the piano department of Murray State U., in Kentucky.

The Silvermine Series is directed by Karen Shaw, and located in Norwalk, CT. Ms. Shaw often engages Jacobs School of Music alumni to perform there.

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The Jacobs School mourns the passing of alumnus Thomas Mastroianni

thomas-mastrioanni-450It is with sadness that the Jacobs School of Music shares the news of the death of pianist Thomas Mastroianni, September 19, 2014.

Thomas earned his BS and MS from Juilliard and after military service, he earned his Doctorate in Piano Performance (’70) from Indiana University where he worked with Bela Nagy and Sidney Foster.

He served as dean of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music from 1972 to 1981 and as a faculty member in Piano from 1972 and as head of Piano Studies from 1981 until his retirement in 2000. From 2000, he continued teaching piano students on a part-time basis.  Mastroianni was an internationally respected pianist, having performed extensively throughout the United States (including many performances at Carnegie Hall), Europe, Mexico, South America, and Asia.  He was an authority and champion of the music and other writings of the 19th-c. composer Franz Liszt, whose works Mastroianni performed throughout his career.  He was the longstanding president of the American Liszt Society and planned several conferences on Liszt’s music as well as being frequently invited to give lectures on Liszt in the U.S. and Europe.  He was a 1992 recipient of the Medal of The
Hungarian Liszt Society and had recently returned to Hungary with various presentations on the composer.

Jacobs alumna Jasmin Arakawa (DM ’13) tenure-track appointment at the University of South Alabama

arakawa

 

 

 

Jasmin Arakawa (DM ’13, MM ’07) has recently been appointed Assistant Professor of Music (Piano) at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. She studied with Prof. Emile Naoumoff (piano) and Prof. Elisabeth Wright(harpsichord) at Jacobs School of Music.

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Music Review: Read Gainsford

Pianist gives full measure

By Peter Jacobi

 

“Too many notes.” That’s what a friend whispered to me as pianist Read Gainsford wound up his Thursday evening recital in Auer Hall with the nine Etudes-tableaux, Opus 39, of Sergei Rachmaninoff.

That surely didn’t mean there were too many notes for the remarkably deft Gainsford to handle but perhaps too many for a listener’s ears and mind to take in with comfort. One says that because the music stuns for what it technically requires but, unlike the etudes of Rachmaninoff’s predecessors, Chopin and Liszt, doesn’t seem to stick to the ribs of memory. The etudes may be likened to tonal gymnastics, amazing to hear unfold because of their level of difficulty. Gainsford proved himself without question as a major keyboard manipulator, through his feat telling the composer that he not only dared match the legendary virtuoso chord for chord and rhythmic surge for rhythmic surge but most probably managed to do so.

For the youngsters in the IU Piano Academy to hear such prodigious pianism from one of their teachers is undoubtedly a memorable experience.  Gainsford gave them an exhibition.  What’s more, prior to the etudes, he gave them, and the rest of us in the audience some delightful Haydn, the playful and also technically challenging Fantasia in C, and some profound Schubert, his final piano sonata, the B-Flat Major, D. 960, laden in the early movements with tender beauties and in the later with sparkle and joy.   To these, also, Gainsford gave full measure, easily mastering the mechanics and then generously imbuing the music with his interpretive refinements.

 

© Herald Times 2014

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Piano competition names two winners

The waiting room of the Jacobs School of Music’s Ford-Crawford Hall was filled with hushed tones and small clusters of young pianists being congratulated by their families.

Marc Levesque plays his piece for judges during the Jacobs School of Music Auer Summer Concerto Competition in Ford-Crawford Hall. Eleven pianists competed for a chance to play alongside the IU Student Summer Orchestra under the direction of Arthur Fagen. IU junior Xiting Yang and 16-year-old Ansen Hui both won.

Marc Levesque plays his piece for judges during the Jacobs School of Music Auer Summer Concerto Competition in Ford-Crawford Hall. Eleven pianists competed for a chance to play alongside the IU Student Summer Orchestra under the direction of Arthur Fagen. IU junior Xiting Yang and 16-year-old Ansen Hui both won.

The large room contained emerald green carpet and a tall ceiling decorated by a single crystal chandelier, but the conversation centered on a single thought — the winner of the 2014 Edward Auer Summer Concerto Competition.

Eleven pianists participated in the final round.

The first round started at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and the final round took place at 5:30 p.m.

By 7:10 p.m., the decision was made. The participants and their families re-entered Ford-Crawford Hall for the results.

“Is everybody here?” workshop and concerto competition director Edward Auer asked. “We have our winners. We don’t have first, second or third place, but instead we have two winners. They are Xiting Yang and Ansen Hui.”

The crowd broke out into applause and congratulated the competition’s winners.
Joy Xu, an assistant with the Edward Auer Summer Workshop, spoke of the diversity, experience and talent each of the performers had.

“I think it went very well,” Xu said about the final round performance. “The participants come from all over the world. Some are from Canada, Ecuador and Korea.”

The Edward Auer Summer Workshop is an annual summer program for the Jacobs School.

The competition included an audition process, in which 30 applicants sent in a 15-minute recording of any repertoire, piano workshops and a final competition.

“Our workshop started about 15 years ago, and it started as a Chopin class,” workshop coordinator Junghwa Moon Auer said.

“It started off very small. In 2007, we offered special topics — Beethoven sonatas or Chopin nocturnes. This year, our highlight is concerto competitions.”

Auer said the workshop and competition is a project dear to her heart, but it requires expenses in order to hire the student summer orchestra for the event.

“It’s worth it,” Auer said. “A lot of young pianists don’t have many chances to play with an orchestra.”

The winner will play at 8 p.m. tonight in Auer Hall with the IU Student Summer Orchestra under the direction of conductor Arthur Fagen.

However, the prize isn’t at the heart of this competition — practice and dedication is, Auer said.

“We don’t believe in competitions, but once we have a competition and a winner’s recital, the participants play better,” Auer said.

“This lets them find their best and to work their best. I want the participants to have some motivation in coming here. Instead of just coming here to mingle, I want them to have a goal.”

The participants’ talent impressed Nicholas Roth, a professor of piano at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and one of the judges of the competition, he said.
Roth was also one of Edward Auer’s previous students.

He described the performances as high level and beautifully played.

Junghwa Moon Auer said she is connected to both winners as a teacher, artist and someone who appreciates their talent.

Ansen Hui, 16, studied privately with Edward Auer for the past four years and played with the Indianapolis Symphony the previous summer.

“His music is not only beautiful, but his life story is triumphant and inspiring,” Jungwha Moon Auer said. “When we visited Ansel’s home once, Edward’s CDs were all over his practice room.

“We were, of course, very pleased, but it means that when he loves something, he loves until the end. He doesn’t love it for better usage or for him, that’s it. He just loves it. He’s got that pure passion.”

Auer said the Edward Auer Concerto Workshop and Competition aims to show the students that beauty is the most important thing.

“Our motto is all about letting students have chances,” Auer said. “We try to let them know, though we can’t always, that beauty is our goal.

“In competitions, hard work is necessary, but perfection is not our goal. When your try to make things perfect, you immediately get fearful because you don’t want to make a mistake. But you have to get past that and be free.”

Auer’s relationship with the 20-year-old IU junior Xiting Yang is one of mentorship and encouragement.

“You can’t try to make things perfect on stage. You have to be out of it,” Auer said to Yang before the night of the performance.

She drew from her husband’s advice and asked Yang to take the passion from the piece she played so the raw emotion could reach the audience.

“I told Xiting, ‘I really want you to be Mozart,’” Auer said. “‘Be there for us. It’s too late for you to be perfect. The only thing we can hear is how much you love and how much you feel.’”

Each year, new performers share their gifts of talent and artistry with Auer and her husband.

Auer gave parting advice to the applicants and encouraged those who will compete next year.

“The stage is a fearful place. Every second seems eternal,” Auer said. “All performers can do is find beauty, find what we care for in our hearts and find life there.

“It is a very awkward thing to feel in front of people, but because they practice so much, they allow themselves to become vulnerable. I think the contestants who won were very successful in that way.”

 

© Indiana Daily Student 2014

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LA Times Review: Menahem Pressler a wonder with the Colburn Orchestra

By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic

 

The Colburn Orchestra’s annual spring gala in Walt Disney Concert Hall is  typically a multi-generational affair. Sunday night, James  Conlon, 64, conducted. His soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17,  however, was yet another generation older.

Menahem Pressler was born into a world that had not yet heard Schoenberg’s  12-tone music or George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” two events that would  change classical music forever. A founder of the Beaux Arts Trio in 1955,  Pressler, who fled Nazi  Germany for Israel as a teenager, turned 90 in December.

Sunday evening he walked onstage with a lively, sure step. Clearly ready for  action, he sat with a kind of sly look on his face during the concerto’s  orchestral opening, vigorously conducted by Conlon. The soloist has a 16th note  rest before his squiggling rising first passage. Pressler cunningly anticipated  that by a nanosecond.

Menahem Pressler's Mozart is a marvel in a Colburn Orchestra concert. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times / April 27, 2014)

Menahem Pressler’s Mozart is a marvel in a Colburn Orchestra concert. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times / April 27, 2014)

His tone was stunning, a beauteous bell-like sound, and he knew it. If  Pressler waits on no one, he does wait on the dying resonance of the piano. He  likes to let the sound fade to near inaudibility and then pick up with the next  note to create a magical lyricism.

The slow movement was where the most wonders were, because Pressler had the  most time to reveal them. With every bar, he seemed to be saying not only “Look  what I am doing here,” but also “Look what I can do here.” At 90, a  self-centered pianist is not an annoyance but a marvel, and so was his Mozart,  laden with but not weighed down by experience.

Meanwhile the students at Colburn have their youth, their relative  inexperience and their talent. Members of the orchestra come and go, so the  ensemble doesn’t grow. But something has been happening because the orchestra,  which has been in existence for 11 years, wasn’t once as impressive as it has  become.

The big piece Sunday was Alexander Zemlinsky’s 43-minute tone poem, “Die  Seejungfrau” (The Mermaid), based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little  Mermaid” and a Conlon specialty. It was written in 1901 and not a success. You  can hear in it echoes of Richard Strauss tone poems, Mahler symphonies and  Wagner operas, as well as forecasts of Ottorino Respighi’s splashy orchestral  pieces. But what it really sounds like is early Schoenberg, Zemlinsky having  been Schoenberg’s brother-in-law and composition teacher.

Zemlinsky — who, like Pressler, fled the Nazis — immigrated to New York and  died in 1942, a neglected composer on the wrong side of history, hanging on to  an earlier century’s Romanticism. Psycho-biographers say “The Mermaid” is the  bug-eyed Zemlinsky’s response to losing the beautiful Alma Schindler to the far  more glamorous Mahler. That is one explanation for Zemlinsky’s sentimentalizing  love-lorn transcendence.

“The Mermaid” is enjoyable, though, for Zemlinsky’s spectacular orchestral  colors and ability to create tactile musical effects of the watery depths. This  is the thing for young, not-yet-cynical orchestral musicians, and Conlon  produced flamboyant swaths of instrumental effects from the Colburners while  keeping most of the pathos at bay.

The ardent theme for the Little Mermaid is the property of the solo violin,  and concertmaster Evin Blomberg played it with fine spirit. The Prince’s theme  belongs to the cello, adroitly handled by principal cellist Natalie Helm. But it  was when the big band (filled out with the occasional extra) hit the climaxes  with everything it had that “The Mermaid” sounded like the composer might have  been headed toward the 20th century after all.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-cm-colburn-orchestra-review-20140429,0,1715503.story#ixzz30OIjYFMs

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Jeremy Denk Is to Receive the Avery Fisher Prize

String of High Notes for Pianist

By MICHAEL COOPER

BOSTON — Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven are playing Scrabble in heaven. No, it is not the setup of a joke — well, not exactly. It is the first scene of the highly improbable comic opera being written by the pianist Jeremy Denk and the composer Steven Stucky, based on one of the most influential scholarly music books of recent decades: Charles Rosen’s “The Classical Style.”

“Weltanschauung! Triple word score … 183 points!” the know-it-all Beethoven sang at a recent workshop run-through here, as he played the German word for “worldview.” The opera’s Mozart — sung by a soprano, in a nod to the kind of trouser roles that the real Mozart sometimes wrote for women playing men — responded gleefully with a 28-point German word that, if translated into English, would be of the four-letter variety.

“You’re that kind of person in Scrabble,” Mr. Denk coached his Mozart during a break, “who only plays dirty words.”

Jeremy Denk is working on a comic opera, reflecting an approach to music that is thoughtful, respectful and irreverent.

Jeremy Denk is working on a comic opera, reflecting an approach to music that is thoughtful, respectful and irreverent.

The news that Mr. Denk had come up with the idea of writing a comic opera based on “The Classical Style,” a work of rigorous analysis with its own chapter on comic opera, was greeted in musical circles with amused curiosity and a little disbelief. It was as if a well-known author had decided to write a novel based on Strunk and White’s seminal writing guide, “The Elements of Style,” or an artist had decided to paint a fresco of H. W. Janson’s “History of Art.”

Mr. Denk was frank about the genesis of the idea. “I think it involved a little alcohol, originally,” he said with a laugh.

The madcap project — which Mr. Denk conceived and wrote the libretto for — is very much in keeping with the kind of unusual, deeply thought out and simultaneously respectful and irreverent approach to music that has helped make this Mr. Denk’s moment. During the past year, he has gotten a contract from Random House to expand a piece he wrote for The New Yorker into a memoir; been named a MacArthur Fellow (referred to colloquially as winning a genius award); and been designated Musical America’s “instrumentalist of the year.”

Mr. Denk will receive his next accolade on Tuesday when he is awarded the Avery Fisher Prize, a $75,000 prize established 40 years ago to recognize both musicianship and, more broadly, contributions to the musical world. (The pianist Charlie Albright, the violist Dimitri Murrath and the Calder Quartet will each get $25,000 career grants.)

“The Classical Style,” which will have its premiere this June at the Ojai Music Festival in California and will be performed at Zankel Hall in New York in December, teems with musical jokes and quotations from notable pieces. In one scene, three characters playing the building blocks of tonality — Tonic, Dominant and Subdominant — walk into a bar, only to be frightened by the Tristan Chord. In another, a symposium on sonata form is written in, well, you can guess. There are in-jokes, but listeners will not need Ph.D.s to get them all. Besides looking for laughs, Mr. Denk and Mr. Stucky said they hoped the opera would illuminate some of Mr. Rosen’s insights on classical music, and inspire people to think about its place in the modern world.

 

In recent years, Mr. Denk, 43, has become well known not only as a concert musician but also as a writer and explainer of classical music, from his blog, Think Denk (jeremydenk.net/blog), to the liner notes of him speaking and playing the piano on a DVD, which was included with his recording of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.” Mr. Denk became friends with Mr. Rosen, who was himself a well-regarded pianist and a scholar, in the years before his death in 2012 at 85. He said he hoped that the opera would be seen as “deeply respectful” of Mr. Rosen.

Mr. Denk recalled feeling nervous before asking Mr. Rosen if he could turn the book into an opera.

“He laughed, and he thought it was ridiculous, but he gave his permission,” Mr. Denk recalled. “It was a big thing building up to it, because I wanted to ask him, and didn’t want him to feel that it was a jape. So I asked him over dinner. I’m sure he never really believed that it would actually come to pass.”

It came to pass largely because of Thomas W. Morris, artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival, who asked Mr. Denk in 2009 if he would take on the rotating post of music director for this spring’s festival.

“Jeremy said, ‘Well, I’ve had a very mad idea for an opera, and when I tell you what it’s on, you’ll laugh,’ ” Mr. Morris recalled. But Mr. Morris signed on, seeing it as in keeping with Ojai’s mission of letting artists take risks. “It’s not a place where you trot out your party pieces,” he said.

Mr. Morris helped line up Mr. Stucky, a composer with a background in academia who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for his Second Concerto for Orchestra, which weaves allusions to past composers into a contemporary setting.

“Tom attempted a shotgun marriage,” Mr. Stucky said, recalling that he initially thought it was a brilliant but impossible idea. “But the more I talked to Jeremy, and the more samples of libretto that I saw, the more impossible it became for me to get out of it.”

Mr. Denk’s sudden burst of attention has been a big change. Now, just a few years after he was little known outside of piano circles, offers are pouring in. On Tuesday the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra will name him an artistic partner, beginning next season.

“It’s insane,” he said during an interview after a run-through of “The Classical Style” here at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where he is an artist in residence. “It’s wild, and I’m a little bit in shock, kind of. It’s a great shock.

“My dad wrote me an email after the MacArthur: ‘Keep it up!’ ” he recalled. “And I thought, ‘I can’t keep this up, this is pretty much as good as it’s going to get.’ ”

© The New York Times 2014

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