Wei Luo, blissful individuality at the piano

“Wei is a young lady now, who deserves to go very far. She is not only a wonderful musical powerhouse but a brilliant thinker, who goes way beyond the score and brings her own ideas to everything she approaches,” says Gary Graffman, Wei Luo’s trusted mentor since she arrived at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music at the age of 13, chaperoned by her mother. Under the tutelage of the legendary Graffman, who still joins...
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Bing Hao Li and Parker Van Ostrand – piano competition winners of the 7th.annual PYPA

A native of Shanghai, China, the now 25 years old Bing Hao is this year’s winner of the senior division’s first prize at the Philadelphia Young Pianists Academy’s competition. (Photo: Prize Winners at PYPA Parker Van Ostrand and Bing Has Li with the festival’s director Ching-Yun Hu, by Ilona Oltuski) The popular summer hub for Philadelphia’s music lovers and eager students from near and far, now in its 7thseason continues its well visited season...
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Violinist Filip Pogády – Social Media is my Agent

There is more to dashingly handsome violinist Filip Pogády than meets the eye. While he worked as a model for the world-famous Elite agency, becoming a poster child for big name brands like Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs, Pogády’s heroes remain the old school violin masters of the Golden Age. His heart belongs – as it did growing up in Linz, Austria – to the sounds of Heifetz, Menuhin, and Oistrakh. Working out is...
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The Goffriller cello of the legendary Pablo

Amit Peled releases recording of Bach Suites (Volume I) on the Goffriller cello of Pablo Casals  (Illustration by Avi Katz) We all love a good story told with the vivid imagination of an artist; it is even better when the story is based on life’s authentic puzzle pieces, connecting the dots to confirm an important message: that good things happen to good people. When it comes to musical storylines, Israeli-American cellist Amit Peled has...
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Pianist Till Fellner  – In allegiance with the composer’s intent   

A disciple of Alfred Brendel since 1990 and known to share his mentor’s fondness for the inveterate Austro-Germanic repertoire, Fellner also shares the veteran’s suggestion that piano playing is a ‘long-term objective’ – a continuous dialectic immersion into detail to illuminate an essential perspective and build on its inner principles. After winning first prize at the 1993 Clara Haskil International Piano Competition, Fellner followed suit with his own extensive dedication to two of the...
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Nikita Mndoyants – Pianist, Transcriber, Composer shines in powerful US debuts

At EURASIA FESTIVAL, which launched in the fall of 2017, immediately representing an important NYC performance podium with viable space at the National Opera Center, young Mndoyants’ recital was presented among the series’ strong concentration on Russian artists, many of whom are former colleagues of the festival’s co-founder, pianist Aza Sydykov, from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. Presenting artists such as those from the former Soviet regions and showcasing their broad heritage and the...
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Passage from Russia to America – Pianist, composer and transcriber Vyacheslav Gryaznov delights in musical storytelling

A version of this article was published on BlogCritics (Nov.31,2017) Currently enrolled in the Artist Diploma program at Yale University, Slava, as he is called by his friends, speaks freely about the experiences that brought him to America from his native Russia. Dissatisfied with the trend in Russian politics toward entangling career with ideology, Slava was keen to follow his fascination with the “land of the free,” and search for new opportunities. Many of...
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Violinist Stefan Jackiw – “music connects you with humanity”

I am reconnecting with the slender, young looking 31 years old violinist, Stefan Jackiw, who impressed me deeply when I had heard him perform several years ago, at the Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church. Home of the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players – just a block from Lincoln Center – less frequently performed repertoire is presented here in an accessible way, by musicians belonging to the former orchestral ensemble led by the late Jens Nygaard and upcoming...
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Lev ‘Ljova’ Zhurbin at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust – shtetl buoyancy re-invented

Soulful violist and composer/arranger Lev ‘Ljova’ Zhurbin was featured in Ljova and the Kontraband’s Sunday afternoon concert at Brooklyn’s new home for the all-inclusive new music scene, National Sawdust. Going by ‘Ljova,’ the kindred version of his traditional Russian-Hebrew name, Lev, the artist and his Kontraband filled the room, which had been arranged cabaret-style, with tuneful energy. Folksy tango tunes with virtuosic viola passages next to Yiddish folk songs performed with great gusto by...
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Pianist Steven Lin – focus on essential music making

What does it take these days for a young pianist to survive in a talent market saturated with more and more prolific contenders? Given the unusually high-ranking technical, as well as musical eloquence young artists are achieving through training at top educational breeding hothouses, a good portion of talent and practice alone – as important as may be, will hardly suffice. And yet, while it seems harder than ever to distinguish the rays of true talent shining through a thick crust...
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