Rachell Wong named one of the winners in the Heida Hermanns International String Competition

Winners Announced in 2014 Heida Hermanns International String Competition

heida hermanns string competition

Xiao Wang, violinist from China, is the winner of the 2014 Heida Hermanns International String Competition presented by the Connecticut Alliance for Music (CAM) with the support of the Westport Arts Center, on Saturday and Sunday, November 22 and 23, at Westport Town Hall. Now celebrating its 43rd year, the annual competition is named for the late Heida Hermanns, an acclaimed concert pianist who lived in Westport with her husband Artur for more than 40 years.

As the competition winner, Wang was awarded a $5,000 cash prize. Wang began playing the violin at age five. At age 10, he was accepted to study at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music. He was First Prize winner of the 2012 Szigeti International Violin Competition and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artists Competition. Wang is currently a full scholarship student at Manhattan School of Music.

Second place went to Rachell Wong, violinist from the United States, who was the recipient of a $2,500 cash prize. She is a Master’s student at the Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University. She was the Gold Medal winner at the 2013 International Crescendo Music Awards and the Grand Prize winner in the 52nd Sorantin International Young Artists Competition for Piano and Strings.

In third place was Chensi Tang, violist of China, who earned a $1,500 cash prize. She is a student at Manhattan School of Music, and a graduate of the Middle School of the Central Conservatory in Beijing. Tang is one of the winners of the Bled International Viola Competition, the 5 Towns Music and Art Foundation Young Musicians Competition, and the Manhattan School of Music Concerto Competition.

Honorable mentions, at $500 each, were awarded Christina Bouey, violinist of Canada and graduate of Manhattan School of Music; You Kyung Kim, cellist of Korea, who attended Juilliard, Yale, and currently attends Longy School of Music at Bard College; and Xinou Wei, violinist of China, who holds a Master’s of Music degree from Mannes College of Music and this year was awarded a full scholarship to pursue a Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers.

From audition CDs submitted by university and conservatory music students and alumni world-wide, 20 semifinalists competed on Saturday, November 22. Six musicians were selected to advance to the Sunday finals, November 23.

Three distinguished professional string musicians judged the competition: Avron Coleman, cellist; Laurance Fader, violist; and Gino Sambuco, violinist.

Heida Hermanns was a world-class concert pianist and child prodigy. A Jewish refugee, she fled Nazi Germany with her two great loves – her husband Artur Holde, and the music in her heart. Artur became her agent, and for many years, Heida had a very successful concert career. Artur and Heida eventually took up residence in Westport. After Artur’s passing, Heida founded the competition for piano, woodwinds, voice, and strings in 1971. In 1972 – along with Josephine Barnett, Ruth Steinkraus Cohen, Brenda Lewis Cooper, Joanne DeBergh Dublin, and Harriet Salerno – she founded the organization that is today known as Connecticut Alliance for Music. Initially called Performers of Southern Connecticut, it quickly grew to become Performers of Connecticut. As the membership became more audience-based than performer-based, the name was changed to Connecticut Alliance for Music. Heida lived in Westport for over 40 years, promoting and endorsing all of the arts. During her last years, the Competition was re-named in her honor.

Connecticut Alliance for Music, for more than 43 years, has been nurturing the talents and careers of young musicians and fostering the love of fine music.


For more information, contact Connecticut Alliance for Music at 203-319.8271.

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Concert a beautiful memorial to Ik-Hwan Bae

By Peter Jacobi


“A Concert in Remembrance of Ik-Hwan Bae” brought family, friends, colleagues and students to Auer Hall Sunday afternoon. Those who came heard praise for a gentle and giving man; they heard music performed by musicians from here and elsewhere, musicians who played concerts with him across the years.

Officially at the Jacobs School, Ik-Hwan Bae, until his far-to-early death last July, was a professor of violin and chamber music. That was his title, reflecting his duties and passions: to share with young talents a craft of inspired violin playing and his experience performing chamber music. The latter he served with fervor by drawing multitudes of students into string quartets that rehearsed their way toward always interesting concerts in the Musical Arts Center lobby.

What helped make him special, as personally observed and as attested to during Sunday’s memorial by those who spoke and knew him best, was a generous personality marked with geniality and yet serious drive, marked with an intense devotion to those who made music with him and to the young, striving to follow in his footsteps.

Throughout the concert, photographs of a life lived fully flashed onto the large screen lowered in front of the organ. Fellow musicians from the school played works that Bae loved or had some special meaning: pianist Sung-Mi Im, Chopin’s Nocturne in G Minor; violist Atar Arad, Ravel’s “Sonate posthume;” pianist Reiko Shigeoka-Neriki, Schumann’s Romance in F-Sharp Minor; pianist Shigeo Neriki, portions from a very contemporary, very somber Requiem by Masahiro Ishijima.

Faculty colleague and cellist Eric Kim led 20 students of an Ik-Hwan String Ensemble in a moving performance of Dvorak’s Nocturne in B Major. And to conclude, five friends from afar contributed two movements from Mozart’s Quintet in A Major, the Larghetto and the Allegretto. The distinguished performers, each with an amazing list of accomplishments, were clarinetist David Shifrin, violinists Theodore Arm and Carmit Zori, violist Paul Neubauer and cellist Fred Sherry. One could but hope that the glorious music so beautifully performed might somehow reach Ik-Hwan Bae. It would certainly please him.

As would the whole of a remembrance that cast such warmth. Those who gathered on Sunday afternoon made it clear that Ik-Hwan Bae was much loved and that he leaves a legacy of good teaching, good playing and good will.


© Herald Times 2014


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MUSIC REVIEW: Pacifica Quartet performs at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall

Pacifica Quartet @ Chamber Music Society


Friday November 7th, 2014 – Tonight the phenomenal Pacifica Quartet were at Alice Tully Hall, the latest offering in Chamber Music Society’s 2014-2015 season which has to date offered a feast of fantastic musicianship. And they’re just getting started: so much more to look forward to.

Above: the artists of the Pacifica Quartet; from left, Masumi Per Rostand, Simin Ganatra, Brandon Vamos, and Sibbi Bernhardsson

Above: the artists of the Pacifica Quartet; from left, Masumi Per Rostand, Simin Ganatra, Brandon Vamos, and Sibbi Bernhardsson

The Pacifica Quartet’s programming was especially strong: classics from the string quartet literature by Haydn and Mendelssohn book-ended the New York premiere of a truly fascinating work by Shulamit Ran and an atmospherice miniature from the great operatic composer Gacomo Puccini. In all of this, the players displayed a meshing of four distinctive voices into a polished and beautifully resonant chorale.

The opening movement of the Haydn ‘Sunrise‘ quartet, which veers from meditative to dynamic, immediately displayed the high level of communicative artistry that the Pacifica musicians delivered all evening. The wellspring of their collective sound seems to emanate from the velvety sonorities which  Brandon Vamos coaxes from his cello, inspiring a seamless passing of melody from voice to voice. From the rich harmonies of the Adagio, a silken rising theme for violin is luxuriantly spun out by Simin Ganatra. Following a Menuetto with witty nuances, the players launch the dance-like finale, only to accelerate to double-time for an exhilarating conclusion.

Shulamit Ran’s Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory, Quartet for Strings #3, is one of the most inventive and impressive pieces of new music I’ve heard in recent seasons. Unlike some contemorary composers, Ran is not afraid of melodic beauty, and she can also employ distinctive touches which seem totally natural rather than lacquered on for effect.


Above: The Refugee by Felix Nussbaum, 1939

Ms. Ran drew inspiration for this work from the brief life and evocative paintings of Felix Nussbaum, a German Jew who met his doom at Auschwitz in 1944 at the age of 39.

The quartet opens with shimmering textures for the upper voices, soon joined by the soulful song of the cello. In the second movement, Menace, the composer introduces the stomping of feet which at first seems dancelike but has the darker implication of the tread of soldiers passing by; then a remarkable moment when violinist Sibbi Bernhardsson begins to whistle: a plaintive, lonely sound. “If I must perish – do not let my paintings die!” implored Felix Nussbaum as he envisioned his fate; the third movement of the quartet is inspired by this quote and is filled with fluttering and tapping sounds, and an quietly ominous feel of encroaching insects. In the final movement, Shards, Memory, the music is soft and eerie; there’s a haunting theme for viola, poignantly played by Masumi Per Rostand. In today’s world, where stories of man’s inhumanity to man still appear on a daily basis, we can only lament the fact that history seems to have taught us nothing. This quartet, so impressively constructed and so inspiringly played, is both thought-provoking and timely.

Puccini’s Crisantemi, a brief and melancholy miniature tone-poem, drew rich playing from the musicians; the melodies were later incorporated by the composer into his career-changing opera, MANON LESCAUT.

Mendelssohn’s Quartet in F-minor concluded the programme and extended the themes of sadness, tragedy, and loss found in the Ran and Puccini, for the composer wrote this quartet while in the depths of grief over the death of his sister Fanny. It was to be Mendelssohn’s last important work.

All sense of merriment and joy are missing from this work; even the faster movements are tinged with darkish colours. The second movement, which normally would be a sprightly scherzo, is here marked by an almost somber doubling of viola and cello. The adagio has a plaintive quality, and as the concluding Allegro molto moves towards a climax, there’s a fiendishing demanding violin theme that seems to express inner torment and feverish despair.

The audience embraced the Pacifica players warmly at the end, and they repaid our enthusiasm by generously encoring the second movement of the Ran. Learn more about the Ran work here.

This evening’s repertory:

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MUSIC REVIEW: Pacifica Quartet performs at Lincoln Center

From Eerie Shards to Vivid Emotion

Pacifica Quartet Presents Shulamit Ran Premiere and Classics

By Zachary Woolfe

Encores in opera houses are different than they are in concert halls, where artists usually respond to ovations by showing off something new. In opera, though, excited audiences will demand a “bis” — a repeat of an aria that’s gone particularly well.

After warm applause at the end of the excellent Pacifica Quartet’s concert on Friday evening at Alice Tully Hall, its members sat down for a surprising encore: the second movement, “Menace,” of Shulamit Ran’s “Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory” (2012-13), which the group had played in its entirety before intermission. It was a rare string quartet bis.

Pacifica Quartet played works by Shulamit Ran, Haydn, Puccini and Mendelssohn at Alice Tully Hall.

Pacifica Quartet played works by Shulamit Ran, Haydn, Puccini and Mendelssohn at Alice Tully Hall.

The Pacifica clearly believes strongly in “Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory,” whose world premiere it gave in May in Toronto; presented under the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s auspices, this was the work’s New York premiere. In four movements, it is inspired by the short life and eerie art of the painter Felix Nussbaum (1904-44), who died at Auschwitz.

Ms. Ran’s craftsmanship is, as ever, expert. The first movement, “That Which Happened,” begins with ethereal textures that thicken, with the addition of pizzicato plucking and meatier cello lines, as the harmonies grow troubled. The instruments mimic sirens, and dissonances build before an uneasily calm ending that sets the stage for the second movement, an anxiously rhythmic danse macabre, even more fiercely lucid in its encore performance.

In the third movement, impassioned solos emerge from ominous quiet, and high arpeggios in the violins (Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson) quiver alongside the earthy cello (Brandon Vamos). Ms. Ran skillfully deploys these extremes of color, volume and pitch, yet the overall somewhat chilly impression is one of poise.

Similarly, the final movement, “Shards, Memory,” seems intended to convey a mood of dislocation and disintegration. But it ends up being merely coherent and polished, with an eloquent viola solo (Masumi Per Rostad). Like the rest of the work, it inspires admiration more than emotion.

Authentic emotion emerged more freely from the rest of the program: Haydn’s Quartet in B flat, “Sunrise,” performed with delicacy and clarity; Puccini’s “Crisantemi,” effectively restrained; and, especially, Mendelssohn’s final quartet, in F minor, composed just after his sister’s death.

The Pacifica was alert to the fevered work’s restless wanderings and brief oases of calm, sustaining feeling in the Adagio not by overstatement but through unanimity of phrasing. The sound in the second movement was hauntingly muted, like a dirge heard through the fog, and the ferocious finale almost uncomfortably vivid.

© The New York Times 2014

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Music Review: Pacifica Fall Concert

Pacifica Quartet continues to impress

By Peter Jacobi


Every time the Pacifica Quartet sits down to perform a concert in Auer Hall, those of us who have come to listen can be grateful that these four outstanding musicians decided to move here to serve as the Indiana University Jacobs School’s resident string quartet.

PacificaQuartet-250As such, they do far more than give periodic concerts. They each teach a studio of violin majors. They also perform all sorts of duties in support of chamber music by encouraging and coaching string students to do chamber music, an activity of value when they move into the professional world.

But, of course, for those of us on the outside, the fact that one of the world’s great string quartets is here for us to enjoy in concert, free of charge, is a privilege to treasure. We are very lucky. And we were very lucky Monday evening as the Pacifica offered up another concert, one with both traditional and unusual elements, and played so brilliantly.

The bookends — Haydn’s Quartet in B-Flat Major (“Sunrise”) and Mendelssohn’s Quartet No. 6 in F Minor, Opus 80 — were taken from standard repertoire. The selections in between — Shulamit Ran’s Quartet No. 3: “Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory” and Puccini’s brief tribute to melancholy, “Crisantemi” (“Chrysanthemums”) — filled out the program, providing an intriguing mix.

There was nothing standard in the manner that the Pacifica played Haydn’s “Sunrise,” one of the most beautiful of all that he wrote. From the radiant opening, the first violinist’s ascending, sunshiny melody, forward, the musicians shaped a detailed and impassioned musical passage: from a spirited Allegro, through a gloomy, un-Haydn-like Adagio, a danceable Menuetto, and a Finale that continually gains momentum. Throughout, the unity of ensemble and artistic purpose was exemplary.

Ran’s quartet was commissioned by the Pacifica and honors a victim of the Holocaust, the German Jewish painter Felix Nussbaum who continued to paint until he died at Auschwitz. “If I perish, do not let my paintings die” was his plea. Some of his paintings did survive, and in Ran’s graphic score, the painter himself is remembered. The music is not pretty and emulates both Nussbaum’s personal tragedy and the world tragedy that is the Holocaust. The Pacifica’s reading was intense, to be sure.

Like Ran’s quartet, the remainder of the program dealt with tragedy. Puccini’s “Crisantemi” was written to mark the death of the Duke of Savoy. Melancholic it is and, in content, of oriental fragrance, reminiscent of Puccini’s operas “Madam Butterfly” and “Turandot.” The mood was gorgeously captured.

Mendelssohn’s Sixth Quartet, his last, was a sorrowful and bitter response to the death of his older sister, Fanny, whom he loved dearly. To compound the tragedy, the composer died just two months after he completed it. As perhaps intended by Mendelssohn, the Pacifica tore into the music with Beethoven-esque fervor. The music emerged as powerfully angry, coming from a man expressing crushed spirits and hope. The audience cheered the performance; it was outstanding.


© Herald Times 2014


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Grigory Kalinovsky, Joseph Swensen named Starling Professors

BLOOMINGTON — Professors Grigory Kalinovsky and Joseph Swensen have been named the inaugural Starling Professors of Violin by the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

“The two appointments build on a decades-long relationship between the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation and the Jacobs School that has supported the nurturing of gifted violin students, helping them fully realize their potential,” said Jacobs Dean Gwyn Richards in a prepared statement.

The foundation’s support also assists with projects such as the school’s string academy and the Starling Chamber Players.

Kalinovsky joined the Jacobs School of Music faculty in the fall of 2013 and continues to teach at the Pinchas Zukerman Young Artists Program in Canada, Heifetz International Music Institute and Manhattan in the Mountains, where he is also one of the founding artistic directors. Previously a faculty member at Manhattan School of Music, Kalinovsky has taught at many summer music festivals, such as the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine, Soesterberg International Music Festival in Holland, Summit Music Festival in New York and Pavel Vernikov’s festival “Il Violino Magico” in Italy.

Swensen joined the Jacobs School of Music faculty in the fall of 2013. A winner of the Leventritt Foundation Sponsorship Award and the Avery Fisher Career Award, he has appeared as violin soloist with orchestras around the world.


© Herald Times 2014

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Jacobs School of Music mourns death of alumna Mary Whitaker

marywhitaker1The Jacobs School of Music mourns the death of alumna Mary Whitaker, 61, who was slain on Aug. 20, 2014, at her summer home in Chautauqua County, N.Y., where she was appearing with the Chautauqua Symphony.

“Mary was a wonderful musician and a wonderful person–every account of her tragic passing seems to make mention of both,” said Glenn Gass, IU provost professor of music in general studies. “We grew up together in Greencastle, and even in her school days, she was gracious and kind, immensely talented without a shred of pretension. Everyone rooted for her, and we all knew she would do well and that she would never quit being the sweet person who seemed to be everybody’s friend. She was intensely proud of being at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and never tired of bragging about IU to her friends in New York. She will be deeply missed, on so many levels.”

See some coverage of the story at the outlets below, including further comments by Gass at WISH-TV: Murder of New York violinist reverberates in Indiana.

marywhitaker3ABC News

The New York Times

The Buffalo News

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The Journal News

Daily Mail







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Beth Ilana Schneider-Gould (BM ’93) appointed principle 2nd violinist for the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra

Schneider, Beth-IlanaBeth Ilana Schneider-Gould was recently appointed principle 2nd violinist for the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra in Ontario, Canada. She is a member of the violin and guitar group Duo46, celebrating their  20 year anniversary this season. Schneider-Gould has commissioned over 100 duets, trios and double concertos and recorded works for fifteen albums.

Read more: http://www.duo46.com/index.html

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Jacobs alumna Sara Caswell featured in “Strings” magazine

Strings-Magazine-cover-227x300Congratulations to Jacobs alumna and jazz violinist Sara Caswell (BM’00, AD’02), who is featured on the cover of the September 2014 issue of Strings magazine!

A native of Bloomington, Ind., Caswell attended Indiana University as a Wells Scholar, earning B.M. degrees with high distinction and an Artist Diploma in both violin performance and jazz studies at the Jacobs School of Music. She studied with Josef Gingold, Stanley Ritchie, and David Baker.

Caswell was recognized as a “Rising Star” in both the 2013 and 2014 DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll and as one of the top jazz violinists in both the 2011 and 2012 JazzTimes Readers’ Poll.

She regularly performs with Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Roseanna Vitro and has toured five continents with three-time Grammy winner and bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding in support of Spalding’s Chamber Music Society CD.

Read the feature story at http://www.allthingsstrings.com/News/Interviews-Profiles/A-Song-in-Her-Heart.

Read more about Caswell at http://saracaswell.com/.

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Remembering Professor Ik-Hwan Bae

Bae_Ik-Hwan-2Ik-Hwan Bae, 57
Nov. 19, 1956 – July 24, 2014 

The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music mourns the loss of Ik-Hwan Bae, 57, who died today, July 24, in Bloomington, Ind. He came to IU in August 1999 and was Professor of Music (Violin and Chamber Music) in the String Department. 

You are invited to leave your thoughts and remembrances about this extraordinary violin pedagogue. Please scroll to the bottom of this page to submit your comments.

“The passing of Ik-Hwan Bae marks a huge loss not only for the Jacobs School faculty and community but for the music world at large,” said Stephen Wyrczynski, chair of the Jacobs String Department. “He was an elegant and poetic violinist who made an indelible impact on all who heard him. He was a dear colleague and friend. Our condolences go to his beloved wife, Sung-Mi Im, and his son, Subin.”

Bae was born in Seoul, Korea, and made his professional debut with the Seoul Philharmonic at the age of 12. He studied with Ivan Galamian at The Juilliard School. His performances in recitals and concerto concerts took him to most of the major cities in Europe, Asia and the United States. 

In 1985, he received the gold medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels and also was a prizewinner at the Munich International Competition in 1984. In 1986, he was the recipient of a Solo Recitalist Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

As an enthusiastic participant in many of the world’s best chamber music festivals, Bae was seen everywhere from Seoul to Alaska. He was an artistic director of Bargemusic Ltd., one of the leading presenters of chamber music in New York City, for 13 years, until 1995. 

His most recent project was as concertmaster of the Hwaum Chamber Orchestra in Korea, which is a conductor-less string orchestra. He led them to Krakow, Poland, and Puerto Rico at the Casals Festival. 

Much sought after as a pedagogue, he also taught at the Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University, the Manhattan School of Music and the Korean National Institute for the Arts. He gave master classes worldwide annually. 

Bae was a jury member of the Munich ARD competition in Germany, Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition in Denmark, Benjamin Britten International Violin Competition in London and Jean Sibelius International Violin Competition in Helsinki, Finland. 

He recorded for the RCA, ECM, Delo and Hoch labels. 

He is survived by his wife, Sung-Mi Im, and son, Subin. Information on a memorial concert this fall will be announced at a later date.

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