GetClassical Aims for New Audiences with Intimate Classical Music and Crossover Concerts
As long as people like Ilona Oltuski are “on the job,” I’m also betting on an indefinitely extended delay in the “decline” of classical music.

ilona oltuski getclassicalFor a long while now, times have been tough for classical music in the United States. Concert audiences are declining in many cities, and a classical album that sells a few hundred copies in a week is a chart-topping success.

But in every creative arena, art and artists will always want to be heard and seen. Ambitious independent promoters, artists, and labels are busily keeping classical music alive and thriving, typically in “downtown” or underground scenes whose dimly lit, outrageous rainbows of creativity are somewhat analogous to the theater world’s Off-Off-Broadway. While statistics may be grim, sounding a death knell for the classics is very premature.

A case in point: Based in New York City but with a world-spanning perspective, music journalist and pianist Ilona Oltuski’s GetClassical concert series and website brings classical and classical-crossover performances to a variety of venues, including some nontraditional ones, and publishes profiles and interviews online, like this one with Sir Andràs Schiff on “building bridges for the next generation of pianists” and this one with pianist Viktorya Yermolyeva, better known as Vika, or “vkgoeswild” to her over 350,000 YouTube subscribers, on tapping into her passions for rock.

On October 29, 2015, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall will host a GetClassical concert featuring chanteuse Adrienne Haan and entitled “Tehorah,” a collaboration of German and Israeli artists presenting contemporary, klezmer, and 1920s Weimar Berlin music. At the other end of the spectrum, pianist Zsolt Bognár will perform on November 12 at Greenwich Village’s Zinc Bar, which I would like to note used to be the Baggot Inn, and before that the Sun Mountain Cafe, at both of which dives I spent many a late weekend night playing in a scruffy rock-and-roll cover band in the 1980s and ’90s.

Then, on November 30, GetClassical will present “With You Armenia” at trendy downtown venue (le) poisson rouge, a room that joys in booking a super-eclectic variety of acts ranging from Keep Shelly in Athens and Meshell Ndegeocello to the Juilliard String Quartet and the Hugo Wolf Quartet, not to mention “Back To The Eighties Show with Jessie’s Girl, the world’s hottest ’80s tribute!” The concert features world-renowned cellist Mischa Maisky and a group of young European artists including Lily Maisky, his daughter, who perform regularly at Progetto Martha Argerich. And on December 17 the Zinc Bar will host GetClassical’s artist in residence, pianist Vassily Primakov, with a trio. Visit the GetClassical website for details on all these concerts.

In interviews, Oltuski is humble about her accomplishments with and ambitions for GetClassical. As a writer, she says, “I’m reinventing my creative side by writing about my diverse encounters in the world of music, about inspiration and artistic expression, and the very human side of these endeavors, reaching right under the musician’s and my skin – that’s my shtick.” And as she told the American Israeli Cultural Foundation, “I hope to continue to build more love and understanding for classical music and musicians wherever possible. Let’s see if I will succeed through my continued efforts as a journalist, concert producer, here [in New York] or elsewhere.”

Let’s see indeed. My money’s on her. And as long as people like Ilona Oltuski are “on the job,” I’m also betting on an indefinitely extended delay in the “decline” of classical music.


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Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations – Tehora Concert produced by Joe Barry and Ilona Oltuski

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International Chanteuse Adrienne Haan will make her Carnegie Hall debut with her production of Tehora
Tehora Tehora

​International Chanteuse Adrienne Haan, one of Europe’s and America’s most electrifying concert and cabaret stars, will make her Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Recital Hall on October 29, 2015 at 8:00pm with her production of Tehorah. The concert is in celebration of the 50th anniversary of German-Israeli diplomatic relations. Patrons of the event include the German and Israeli Ambassadors to the United Nations, and Rabbi Arthur Schneier. Tickets are $45-$35,, CarnegieCharge 212-247-7800 or at the Carnegie Hall Box Office at 57th Street and Seventh.

Says Haan, “I created this program to share a sense of love, hope and forgiveness to the tragic experiences of war and loss. It is my hope that Tehorah, which means “pure” in Hebrew, will help build musical bridges and sincere understanding.“ The concert features music of 1920s Weimar Berlin, Yiddish klezmer and contemporary Hebrew songs, arranged by German music director Heinz Walter Florin for Haan, piano and string quartet. The program includes works by Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht, Mischa Spoliansky, Kurt Schwachbach, Friedrich Hollaender, Norbert Schulze, Chava Alberstein, The Klezmatics, Sasha Argov, Moti Hamer and Naomi Shemer. Ms. Haan will perform in German, Yiddish and Hebrew accompanied by Heinz-Walter Florin on piano and Israeli violinists Netanel Draiblate and Perry Tal, violist Shmuel Katz and cellist Yoni Draiblate. An encore performance of Tehora will be presented by the Embassy Series at the Embassy of Austria in Washington, DC on November 3rd.

Hailed as “an all-round entertainer of the highest caliber,” award-winning Adrienne Haan is equally at home on large concert stages and intimate cabaret rooms, Haan has performed with the Cologne Philharmonic, Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen, Northwest German Philharmonic, Frankfurt Symphony, WDR Symphony, WDR Big Band, and Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks among others.

With a diverse repertoire that ranges from chanson to jazz, blues, klezmer and Broadway, Haan has a special passion for the music of the 1920s and 30s. Recent and upcoming engagements include her debut with the Jerusalem Symphony and The Israel Netanya Orchestra, as well as a US tour with the Berlin Capital Dance Orchestra, and an appearance with the WDR Funkhausorchester. Haan recently debuted her new show Rock le Cabaret!, a rock interpretation of French Chansons. This spring she appeared at the Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival where she performed Between Fire & Ice, a diabolical Weimar Berlin Cabaret depicting Berlin during the 1920s. Her successful performance on Washington DC’s Embassy Series led to an appearance at the Washington Opera Ball. Additional New York engagements included a sold out performance at the Neue Galerie’s Cafe Sabarsky, the National Arts Club and a special performance commemorating Bastille Day. Previous New York engagements include the Mabel Mercer Cabaret Foundation and the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts in a special Duke Ellington 115th birthday celebration.

Her latest CD Berlin, Mon Amour, hailed as “engaging and unique,“ is a tribute to 1920s and early 1930s Germany. Earlier recordings include I Could Have Danced All Night with the WDR Rundfunkorchester, and her debut solo CD, Born to Entertain.

Adrienne serves on the International Advisory Board of the Duke Ellington Center For The Arts in NYC where she was appointed at the request of Mercedes Ellington. A cultural ambassador, Haan has performed at the Luxembourg and German Embassies in Washington, DC, and German Consulate of New York.

Heinz Walter Florin enjoys a multifaceted career as a pianist, conductor and composer. A long time collaborator with Adrienne Haan, he is also chief conductor of the Elbland Music Festival, associate conductor of Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, and artistic director of Cologne, Germany’s 120 voice male Deutz Choir. He has appeared with the NDR Radio Philharmonic Hannover, the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra, and the Bonn Beethoven Orchestra among others.

Representing Israel in the program is a gifted quartet let by violinist Netanel Draiblate, along with violinist Perry Tal, violist Shmuel Katz and cellist Yoni Draiblate. These acclaimed artists are all scholarship recipients of the American Israeli Cultural Foundation, attended the Thelma Yellin School of the Arts in Israel, and served as musicians for the Israeli Defense For

Tehorah is produced by Joseph Barry, Robert R. Blume and Ilona Oltuski. For more information visit

bestamericanpoetry – Review by Ilona Oltuski

September 08, 2015

Broadway World – Adrienne Haan performs at Neue Gallery

While performing her triumphant musical tour of the United States, European Cabaret artist Adrienne Haan followed up her recent critically acclaimed engagements at The Actors Temple and The Cutting Room in New York by dazzling audiences with her performances at the prestigious Embassy Series in Washington DC and sold out show at the Neue Galerie’s Cafe Sabarsky in New York City.

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Paul Huang Violin Website – Review Nurture Versus Nature

Paul Hunag
Photo: Marco Borggreve

Nurture and Nature

Press Photo: Marco Broggreve
The contours of natural talent, education, and unlimited personal support from his family all blend together for young Taiwanese/American violinist Paul Huang, who came to Juilliard’s Pre-College division at age 13. “It meant a lot of changes for my family, when my mom came to New York by my side, parting from the family and its business, a small pharmacy she ran together with my father back in Taiwan,” Paul remembers. Paul’s mother made the decision to leave behind Paul’s older brother and his father, dedicating five years of her life to Paul’s musical education, fostering his growth as a budding virtuoso.

“Looking back, I feel so much appreciation for her utmost devotion, she never went out except for grocery shopping, always staying home for me,” says Paul, who remains closely connected with his family through tools like Skype and daily phone calls, but clearly feels like a New Yorker today. “Artistic growth like this does not happen there; the teacher tells you what to do…here the teacher encourages you to teach yourself, finding your own voice – that’s an even bigger lesson,” he says.

“Of course I don’t know yet where my life is going to take me, but right now it’s happening here [in New York.]” While Paul visits Taiwan on a regular basis, he has clearly made himself a home in the metropolis of music-making, “living [his] dream,” as he proclaims, which revolves around the instrument that took center stage for him as soon as he heard it performed for the first time as a young boy. “I seek inspiration wherever I am, and [in] whatever I do, living very much in the moment,” he says, describing his morning’s jog in Central Park, during which his eyes and ears were wide open, taking in nature’s wonderful sights and sounds. “There is always a new corner I have not yet discovered, birds singing, people to watch…sometimes, when you feel stuck and hopeless, you need to get inspired in order to inspire others. That is a talent in itself,” he explains. Paul likes to take advantage of the city’s broad variety of art and concert offerings. Sometimes, when he is inspired by great performances, Paul will pick up the violin right after to practice, even at 10pm at night.
“Listening to a great performance makes you want to play better,” he says, starting his daily practice with Bach, a composer whose works he does not feel quite comfortable performing publicly yet, but whose music takes him on an inner voyage, reflecting on his own, personal state of mind – in all its glorious and self-revealing solitude. “With Bach, there is nowhere to hide, in a musical sense you are totally exposed, and it’s reflecting on who you are and where [you are] at this point in time with total honesty,” he says. Choosing his performance repertoire as a young performer, he realizes the importance of being familiar with a great variety of programs, although his heart truly beats for the late romantic and 20th century genre. “I never play music I don’t love,” he says, and that is palpably clear in his performances, which display his distinct individual musical voice, already lauded by many critics.

Beyond that recognizable personality, there is an element of absolute necessity in his playing, making listening to him a gripping experience. “I never try to be different for the sake of being different; I rather always look for what’s meaningful to me and try to convey that as best as I can, but I do treat every performance as if it was my last one,” he says, explaining the emotional intensity of his recitals, in addition to his “stylish and polished playing,” praised by The Strad. After winning the 2011 Young Concert Artists’ International Auditions and its 2012 Helen Armstrong Violin Fellowship, the young artist, who had already worked on collaborations with internationally acclaimed artists, began working with management geared towards moving his career in a distinct direction. One chamber music collaboration that came about through YCA was between Paul and the talented young pianist Louis Schwizgebel-Wang, BBC New Generation Artist 2013-15. The project resulted in instant friendship: “Although we just live two blocks away, we had never met in New York, before,” Paul says. A presenter in North Carolina was looking for a collaborative performance of Beethoven Sonatas, and, since YCA often promotes their artists together, Louis, winner of YCA’s 2006 auditions, was brought together with Paul to take on the task. “We immediately clicked while rehearsing Beethoven, and a close friendship developed further on many following concert tours together. Chamber music is the building block for any kind of music making. For me, it’s the absolute pinnacle of music making,” Paul says. For the 2015-18 seasons, he will join Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two program for young, up-and-coming artists.

“I am at my boldest in big concerts, with orchestra, but music at the beginning was all meant for smaller spaces, especially chamber music. Intimacy is what chamber music in particular is all about,” he says. “To have the luxury to share music in a smaller setting is truly a rewarding experience; the audience being so close around you – they are practically breathing with you, hearing every nuance of your sound and seeing every movement,” he explains. “I actually think this is music-making at its most exciting, and it is especially enhanced by the atmosphere in such intimate settings that allows the artist true interaction and communication with the audience, [which is] always cherished.”

— Ilona Oltuski,
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Bernstein Artists Inc. featured article by GetClassical on Donal Fox’s artist page

Bernstein Artists, Inc.
282 Flatbush Avenue, Suite 101; Brooklyn, NY 11217
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Donal Fox – Playing with the Classical Imperative
By Ilona Oltuski | September 2014
When pianist/composer and improviser Donal Fox appeared live on WQXR’s All Ears With Terrance McKnight in 2013, classical music’s agenda,
addressing its cultural divide, was tangible on air. As rare as it may be for a classical musician to improvise in jazz and Latin American vocabulary, it
is probably even more unusual for a jazz musician to be at home with the classics. Improvising in the classical style with a pianistic technique that
knows no boundaries between a jazzy scale slide and Chopinesque arpeggios is right out the exception. Fox, a classically-trained musician, felt
the need early on to stray the course from the ”sacrosanct score,” dismissing it as a notion of today’s conservatories that was not at all the idea that the great masters like Bach and Beethoven had in mind, in his opinion. “When they performed, they improvised…there were strings breaking,” he says. Donal sees improvisation in the foreground of the creative process. “The more I read about the history, it was clear to me that improvising was part of what a great musician had to do. Mozart was improvising. Beethoven was improvising! He may have written the score down later on for his great patrons or the publisher, but his composition process is based on improvisation, and this is the real genesis of
creativity,” he explains in our meeting on the eve of his recent Jazz at Lincoln Center duo performance with the virtuosic vibraphonist Warren Wolf. “Whether it is the great classics, or whether it’s jazz, they
come from the same creative place. In most classical music, the melody and harmonic structure
dominate, while the rhythm comes more to the forefront in jazz. Many classical composers, for example
Stravinsky, have been influenced by jazz, the musical language that is the African-American cultural
language of the melting pot fusion, and,” he continues, “that reminds me of something: a very young Mick
Jagger said on a talk show interview, before he became Mr. Rolling Stones: ‘I am really trying to be
James Brown – this is how it comes out.’” Fox says, endearingly: “In this sense, I am trying to improvise
like Beethoven – what comes out is Fox.”
Fox is no mutineer, and he certainly does not look to connect the disparate worlds of classical and jazz
via crossover; he is also not a classical concert pianist who would perform the Beethoven Sonata cycle.
“There are people that can do that much better than I ever could, and who devoted much more time to the“Whether it is the great classics, or whether it’s jazz, they
come from the same creative place. In most classical music, the melody and harmonic structure
dominate, while the rhythm comes more to the forefront in jazz. Many classical composers, for example
Stravinsky, have been influenced by jazz, the musical language that is the African-American cultural
language of the melting pot fusion, and,” he continues, “that reminds me of something: a very young Mick
Jagger said on a talk show interview, before he became Mr. Rolling Stones: ‘I am really trying to be
James Brown – this is how it comes out.’” Fox says, endearingly: “In this sense, I am trying to improvise
like Beethoven – what comes out is Fox.”
Fox is no mutineer, and he certainly does not look to connect the disparate worlds of classical and jazz
via crossover; he is also not a classical concert pianist who would perform the Beethoven Sonata cycle.
“There are people that can do that much better than I ever could, and who devoted much more time to the rigorous training it takes,” he says. In fact, playing piano became a vehicle rather than the mission of his
early musical career. Donal’s improvisation seems to indicate his simple refusal to deny classical music’s
greatness on the grounds of being a jazz musician, and he takes it from there, venturing to sonic spaces
above these two worlds. Whether he is teaching improvisation to members of the orchestra at the
Symphony Hall, a process Fox compares to the fun and freedom of “playing in the sandbox,” or taking his
original programs based on Brahms or Schubert to the jazz pub, Fox is equally likely to improvise over
Thelonious Monk as he is to offset jazz with the contrapuntal structures of Johann Sebastian Bach. “In
principle, baroque and jazz are so much alike, they both share the walking bass line, and I often
compose with a part of the score written down and a part improvised, giving me room to engage in
improvisational communication. I like to draw audiences’ interest with arrangements that respect the
melody, but bring the swing,” he says, “this is not crossover; it’s opening up your thinking about
music that is informed by history, but it also feels like it is part of our time. More important is the
question: Does this music touch you? Music is so powerful and there should not be any stigma attached
to playing what moves you; it has to come from a true place in your heart.”
Studying at both Boston’s Berklee College of Music, renowned for its strong jazz faculty, and New
England Conservatory of Music, Donal frequently got carried away in different directions improvising while
practicing classical repertoire, despite his teachers’ insistence that he focus on the classical composition
at hand. Other forces were stronger for Fox: “My focus on creating over recreating became stronger
and stronger,” he says. He is certainly not alone in this; other pianists, like Gabriela Montero, who Fox
greatly admires, have been improvising from the beginning of their studies while simultaneously
discovering the piano’s classical repertoire. And yet, the stigma of the written score as the only suitable
homage to the great composers of the past, as opposed to the self-created tune, has sustained
overwhelmingly. In Montero’s case, as celebrated as she is for her spontaneous improvisational
interpretations of the classical masters in the concert hall, it took personal encouragement from the great
pianist Martha Argerich to allow her to dare explore her special talent.
Fox grew up in a rare, artistic home in which Bach Cantatas occupied the family playlist right next to Miles
Davis, which was next to Igor Stravinsky. But music’s limitations and stigmas were quite clear to him early
on, when most of his friends did not follow him on his classical concert hall explorations. “When I
performed at a jazz bar it was cool, when it came to a concert hall performance, no one came.” Fox did
not want to miss out on social solidarity entirely, defined by a mutual musical identity, but he certainly did
not care to toss out his great respect for the classical tradition to stay popular with his friends either. In
fact, for a long time, Fox hid his improvisational talents, afraid of being frowned upon by either side of the
musical fence. “The contemporary music scene is just as stiff in its ways,” he confesses, “and every
venue is worried for their audiences. It gets complicated, sometimes” says Fox, who has been able to
reach both concert hall and jazz club audiences with his individual style and adaptable pianistic
technique. His skills brought him from the Rockport Jazz Festival to Tanglewood and Carnegie
Hall, where, as composer/performer and improviser, Fox received standing ovations and a gleaming
review by Times critic Anthony Tommasini, for the world premiere of his concerto “Peace Out” for
Improvised Piano and Orchestra in 2009.
Donal’s international career took off, after serving as the first African American composer-in-residence of
the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. He participated in a vast array of collaborations and recordings with
artists ranging from new music’s Bang on a Can contemporary players, to jazz celebrities at Lincoln
Center. “Still, black people don’t usually come to the concert hall,” he comments, “and at the same time,
jazz is getting much more institutionalized now that it is an established discipline of its own in schools.
What happened to learning on the road, from the great masters? Today’s performers have incredible
facility, amassed a large amount of repertoire and a great technique, but rarely carry their own voice. It is
rather difficult to get people to listen to either jazz or classical these days; there is the need to produce
new things, for people to go out there and hear live concerts.”
If audiences are particularly defined by their music tastes, perhaps it’s time to overcome borders
within music presentation by letting audiences mingle in more intimate venues with more social
context. The divide may not lie as much with Bach or Monk, but rather with the strong affinity for one’s
own identity. Perhaps more common traits can be discovered over a glass of wine and a good show than
one might expect; after all, good music opens horizons, carrying the bass line beyond one’s own small

Featured on Pro Musica Hebraica

Ilona Oltuski on Evgeny Kissin’s Mission to Celebrate Yiddish Music and Poetry

Ilona Oltuski  review our latest concert on her blog, GetClassical:

When Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post’s longtime political columnist and co-founder of the evening’s host organisation, Pro Musica Hebraica, introduced Evgeny Kissin at his recent Washington concert in co-production with the Kennedy Center, it was clear from the start that this evening would turn out to be very special.[…]

“The series tries to establish that there is more to Jewish music than the obvious pick of Hava Nagilah or Klezmer,” says Krauthammer. “There is an abundance of works that deserve exposure. It is our hope to continue to disseminate these works by charismatic young performers, who carry them on to their next performances and assure these works’ visibility and continued inspiration.”

Who better to fit the bill than star pianist Evgeny Kissin whose personal mission coincides with what the Krauthammers want to achieve?

Kissin made sure that the artistic merits of the evening’s musical part were in no way compromised. As James Loeffler, the series’ director of research explains, Kissin took the plunge into a repertoire that was, in large parts, as new to him as it was to the audience.

Read the rest here.

Orli Shaham and friends at SubCulture – review GetClassical

Pianist Orli Shaham and friends at SUBCULTURE

Monday night’s audience at SUBCULTURE was in for a treat as WQXR’s host Naomi Lewin introduced most of the artists involved in the making of the newly released CDAmerican Grace, which features the world premiere recording of Steve Mackey’s piano concerto, Stumble to Gracecomposed for Orli Shaham. “She is such a class act,” says broadcaster, publicist and producer Gail Wein “…and extraordinarily joy to work with.”
Photo Credit Elliot Sussman
It all started at the Aspen Music Festival in 2007, when the superb Juilliard-trained pianist, born in Israel, and the cool West Coast guitarist/composer turned Princeton professor (and music department chair) met backstage at one of Mackey’s sizzling concert run-throughs and clicked instantly. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that Orli Shaham was pregnant with her now 6 year-old twin boys, and Steve Mackey and his wife were expecting as well; mostly, though, their connection was about their mutual, deep love for music, and their iconic take on music presentation, as they quickly discovered that Shaham felt a deep commitment towards performing works by living composers. The two musicians forged a bond and commissioned a new concerto, beginning a fascinating musical journey, which was shared live on stage at their recent SUBCULTURE show through excerpts from the CD as well as an interactive discussion by the artists involved. There were also film excursions into the landscape of the creative process, showing what is actually involved in the coming-together of ideas in a commissioned work, and how much depends on the creative exchange and rapport between the artists.
Photo:  during rehearsal at SUBCULTURE credit Ilona Oltuski
It turns out that the cooperative aspect is one of the most intriguing facets of contemporary compositions for today’s performers.  While Mackey studied Shaham’s individual performance style, she informed him about personal preferences and details, for example the size of her hands: things one could not ask a classical composer to consider in the past. In this case, Shaham even got to influence the final shape of the work’s cadenza, which Mackey envisioned as a grand finale. It is with this grander version of the finale, swiftly re-arranged by Mackey, that the concerto received its premiere recording with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Shaham’s husband, David Robertson, who was present as well this evening, acting as a page turner.
Photo Credit Elliot Sussman
Shaham not only exudes her deep understanding of and feeling for the music, but also radiates a contagious joy in performing it: “Every time a part of the score came my way,” says Shaham, “I was more excited to learn it and understand it…I love the different pianistic influences that shine through the music – from Thelonious Monk, to Mozart piano concerti, to Bach’s counterpoint to Vince Guaraldi.”
Mackey’s solo electric guitar performance made clear how broadly his musical understanding reaches. It was fascinating to see the sensitivity and musical insight required to compose music and translate it to the instrument’s specific tactile facility.
Facing Shaham from the second grand piano on stage, pianist Jon Kimura Parker made his appearance. Together they performed John Adam’s Hallelujah Junction, a work for two pianos also performed by both pianists on the recording. Shaham chose to include two pieces by Adams, since she feels that both composers – Mackey and Adams – “are at the forefront of defining what it means to be an American pianist today.” She continues: “Jon Kimura Parker was my dream partner for this work,” which indeed entails the most intricate, rhapsodic rhythmic episodes, fiendishly difficult to pull off as a team. Parker, who is also on the faculty of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, recorded his own transcriptions of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Petrouchka last year.
China Gates for solo piano, another Adams work that Shaham performed at SUBCULTURE, showcases the composer’s strongly formulated lyrical vibe, which, as Shaham says: “has inspired as many composers as it has pianists with its beauty, simplicity, and complexity all intertwined.” (Orli Shaham quoted by Frank J. Oeteri in the CD’s excellent liner note.)
As an encore, closing the evening’s performance, Shaham performed the miniature Sneaky March, originallycomposed by Mackey for Shaham’s curated series Baby got Bach. The concept of creating these interactive, classical concerts for children came to the entrepreneurial pianist when she discovered that there was nothing offered at the time to capture the musical imagination of the 3-6 year-old demographic. “While there where things for babies and older children, I was not able to find anything of musical interest for my own kids,” she shares. “At a time when kids are most susceptive to engage in a second language, which music is as well, I felt compelled – as a parent and someone passionate about music – to do something about it.” Now in its fourth season at the 92 Street Y, Baby got Bach begins with a hand on experience backstage, where children get to playfully explore musical instruments, followed by the on stage encounter of listening to live chamber music, performed by Shaham and friends.
When it comes to music, Shaham’s enthusiasm and gifted engagement does not stop with her performances that range widely from solo and chamber to concerti repertoire with major orchestras, to guest performer at the great summer music festivals, or her work as a recording artist. She is a respected voice broadcaster, music writer, and lecturer, and shapes the world of music through her increasing number of commissions for new music. She feels indebted to her great mentor, pianist and pedagogue Herbert Stessin. In her obituary for Stessin, published in the Juilliard Journal in 2011, she recalls the “consummate pianist who lived and breathed the world of piano and the music around it…a teacher of fourteen years and friend and second pair of ears for the following fourteen.” In her words, something of her own adoring approach to the piano and the world of music comes through. Orli Shaham is four years younger than her brother, virtuoso violinist Gil Shaham, and though at times the two siblings are professionally connected through some of their shared projects, concerts, and recordings, Orli’s is a view clearly gained independently and shared through her own personal charisma.
Audiences will look forward to her upcoming project, for which Shaham will turn to Johannes Brahms’ late opuses, exploring what inspired him and his works, and how a new generation of composers has in turn been inspired by his influence. Commissions to composers like Avner Dorman, Bruce Adolphe, and Brett Dean are going out for a recording to be released in the beginning of 2015 on the Canary record label.view excerpts

Musical America – Jeremy Denk 2014 Artist of the Year
(L-R) Ilona Oltuski, PR² classic; John Gerlach, Rockefeller University; Chris Putnam, Colbert Artists Management, Inc.