Piano School of NYC

When pianist Vera Anselmo, who trained at Juilliard and Mannes School of Music, started giving piano and music lessons at local schools in Manhattan’s Upper Westside and Harlem in 2001, she did not realize the potential impact her ‘Piano School of New York City’ would make over the years, but her passion to bring the gift of music to all had always been her driving force. In her twenties, Anselmo entertained a growing piano...
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Pianist Lise de la Salle – personally nonchalant – unstoppable at the piano

“I don’t watch myself, I am not aware of how I look, the music is here…who cares how you look!”  ( Photo Credit: Nicholas Brodard) After winning the European Young Concert Artists Auditions in Paris in 2003 and then the following year in New York, the young French-born pianist quickly became a renowned performer on New York concert stages. Watching the de la Salle perform during the latest Young Concert Artist’s Gala at Alice...
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Pianist Ching-Yun Hu – unbiased brilliance

“The decision to make an album of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s works was made from a pure love of his music. I want to evoke from listeners the most beautiful experiences through this music that encompasses all of human emotions, of love, hope, nostalgia, loss despair…This music reminds me of my childhood struggles, and beautiful moments spent with my family. It transports me to another world.” – Ching-Yun Hu With these words from the liner notes...
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The Brandenburg Duets

“Sharing the piano bench with a partner is as intimate a musical relationship as it gets,” describes Eleonor Bindman her passion that led her to her latest project. “When I perform a composition, the orchestral aspect is always what inspires me most,” she says. And playing four-hand at the piano, in a partnership feels like it doubles the inspiration.” photo credit: ©Masataka Suemitsu Eleonor Bindman and Jenny Lin In 2014, Eleonor Bindman was scouting...
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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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Silenced – Orsolya Korcsolán’s engaging Deutsche Grammophon release of works by Sándor Kuti

A child of holocaust survivors, Hungarian born violinist Orsolya Korcsolán had always felt a deep connection to her roots, linking her Jewish heritage closely with her personal and musical identity. Crossing paths with some of classical music’s past and present iconic figures inspired a prolific career in music that now spans from performing and recording artist to cultural ambassador and pedagogue. While still a violin student at Budapest’s Franz Liszt Academy, Orsolya attended –...
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PIANOFEST IN THE HAMPTONS celebrates 30 golden years in support of its collective talent

With Rites of Spring 30th Anniversary Concert at the Louis K. Meisel Gallery, Pianofest honors its founder Paul Schenly, and kicks off its new season with performances by Tomer Gewirtzman, Fei-Fei and Konstantin Soukhovetski If you are a budding concert pianist, what better way to escape lonely hours spent at the piano and retreat to summer night dreams and harmonies with conservatory buddies and delighted concert audiences in the Hamptons? Some of Pianofest alumni...
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Orpheus and the “Underworld” of the Conductor-less Chamber Ensemble

The orchestra’s chosen namesake, the Greek mythical hero Orpheus whose music could charm wild beasts and coax trees and rocks to dance, evokes the orchestra’s founding aspirations from 1972. While Hermes was said to have invented the lyre, Orpheus was the one to perfect it, imbuing it with power – even over Hades – allowing him return passage from the Underworld. What has been perfected at Orpheus is its groundbreaking initiative to introduce democratic choice into the traditional orchestral hierarchy, historically led by a single conductor. At Orpheus, it’s all about the music, experienced and performed by equally important musicians in a collective, self-governed environment.

Photocredit: Matt Dine

Sitting down at Orpheus’ offices at Manhattan’s Riverside Church with Alan Kay, principal clarinetist and one of the three artistic directors of the ensemble this season (the others being Laura Frautschi and James Wilson), allows for a glimpse into the now historic transformative ideas of the famously conductor-less orchestra.

Recommended by the great clarinet virtuoso Charles Neidich, Kay started his collaboration with the orchestra as a young substitute performer in 1985. He was elected as a member shortly thereafter, when a spot in the ensemble opened up.

“It is a lot about friendship. We do care about each other on a personal level and that comes from listening to each other,” he exclaims. “We are not about one single point of view, but about group decisions. How to play music is constantly re-evaluated and up for discussion by giving multiple performances of the same repertoire with alternating positions, which keeps things fresh at all times,” he says. Kay describes the invigorated spirit that characterized Orpheus’ initial formation and ongoing development: “The ideas that came from the sixties when we were young musicians, this uninhibited feeling of being able to achieve anything with our lust for freedom of expression…this got implemented in this new way of making music at Orpheus, which quickly became a sensation, and wildly recognized with a legendary long term contract by Deutsche Grammophone, previously unheard of for such a young ensemble.”

Photo credit: Matt Dine.

Producing four LPs every year in bi-annual recording sessions with the German label put Orpheus on the international map. With international star soloists flocking to record with the group, and composers submitting new commissions, Orpheus proudly looks back on its 71 albums, including its Grammy Award-winning take on Stravinsky in its 2000 recording, Shadow Dances, and 43 premieres of original, commissioned works.

Kay says Orpheus’ “amazing” recording streak lasted into the nineties, but has functionally ended as the recording industry has entered into an era of tumultuous change. “Recordings of Orpheus performances are still done, occasionally, mostly consisting of live recordings with patching sessions in the studio, but they have not gained the same recognition as marketing tools as our recordings from those previous years,” he remarks. “A decisive factor for our Carnegie Hall concert series and connected outreach tours remain our guest artists. Their choice depends a bit on logistical reasoning these days, but they all are established artists, who bring interesting ideas and enjoy collaborating in this personal interaction that we are about,” adds Kay.

Indeed, musicians at Orpheus remain involved on every level of the ensemble’s artistic, and by now quite elaborate administrative, process. From branding and ticket marketing, to setting the order of rehearsals, rotating concert masters and parts – which alternate for each performance and even each piece – every musician is involved.

Michael Volpert, renowned for his almost encyclopedic musical knowledge holds the title of ‘Director of Artistic Planning’ at Orpheus, and modestly describes his role as “making sure that everyone shows up at the right place at the right time.” While offering me coffee, Volpert shares his insights with me about Orpheus’ complex three-headed system, which comes up for election every three years. “With the orchestra’s growing success and mounting outreach strategies, the administrative system’s scope has to adjust,” he explains. Yet, the concert master committee makes sure the essentials continue to be in place. “The concert master tells me for each and every performance where the musicians are sitting, and who they want to sit with, who their stand partner for each piece will be, and who will play 2nd violin in this setting. It remains a totally democratic structure,” says Volpert.

This signature democratic mode of operation has been trademarked as the ‘Orpheus process,’ and has led to leadership research in other fields; studies and seminars on democratic leadership models inspired by Orpheus have been conducted at Harvard, Morgan Stanley and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospitals, among others. ‘Access Orpheus’ and the ‘Orpheus Institute’ are further symbols of the ensemble’s active outreach initiative, and the academic and entrepreneurial value of their method. These programs bring Orpheus’ process and institutional values, but also its engaging performances to students of all ages, and create opportunities for further artistic growth. After all, building new audiences is recognized as a premium responsibility of modern arts organizations and ensembles. Photo Credit: Matt Dine

This year, Orpheus has followed up on the salon concert format, with smaller ensemble performances held at the intimate space of violin and bow-maker Tarisio. “These concerts are ideal for getting to know young artists, and our commissioning process now also includes Jazz repertoire. Repertoire has to follow performance practice, and arranging larger works for smaller ensembles becomes also an important factor for staying relevant in a constantly changing music environment,” recognizes Kay.

To find out how Orpheus’ musicians will spend the next season, check out their concert schedule.

Pegasus: The Orchestra – Cultural Incubator of Community

Pegasus, the winged divine stallion of Greek mythology, friend of the muses bringing lighting and thunder from Olympus to the people, perfectly embodies the orchestra’s broad aspirations: “As musicians and artists we dream of achieving new heights and letting our imagination take flight,” says Pegasus founder, pianist and composer Karén Hakobyan: “We as humans have always dreamt of defying gravity. Music does just that – it gives us wings.” Hakobyan passionately embraces his new...
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The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra – Happy 80th Birthday and Happy New Year!

It’s a season of celebration for an exceptional orchestra, in an extraordinary land full of music. Yes – against all odds, the soil that saved so many from the ashes of the Holocaust and inherited the soulful tradition of Russia’s virtuosi as they fled communist repression harvests its musical talent in an embrace of its own individual flavor with the best of what international music culture has to offer. Originating as The Palestine Orchestra...
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