Krzysztof Penderecki was born on November 23, 1933 in Dębica, Poland. He received violin and piano tuition at a very early age and entered the Conservatoire in Krakow when he was 18. From 1954, he studied composition with Artur Malewski and Stanisław Wiechowicz at the Kraków Academy of Music where he was subsequently appointed as professor in 1958. One year later, Penderecki won all three available prizes at the II Warsaw Competition for Young Composers. With the first performance of Anaklasis for 42 string instruments at the Donaueschingen Festival in 1960, he became part of the international avant-garde. Penderecki gained a reputation with a wider public with the premiere of the St Luke Passion in Münster Cathedral in 1966. The Polish composer taught at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen from 1966 to 1968. His first opera The Devils of Loudon based on a book by Aldous Huxley received its premiere at the Hamburg State Opera House in 1969. In 1972, Penderecki was appointed as rector of the State Academy of Music in Kraków and also taught at Yale University in the USA from 1973 to 1978. Penderecki gained an international reputation as the conductor of both his own compositions and other works.
Penderecki composed several of his works in remembrance of catastrophes in the 20th century. Threnos for 52 string instruments, composed in 1960, is dedicated to the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and the piano concerto Resurrection was composed as a reaction to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. For Penderecki, these associations in content are not merely an abstract concept, but also in their instrumental tonal colouring and dramatic sounds emotionally comprehensible for listeners. Extensive political- social associations can also be found in the Polish Requiem which he began in 1980 with the composition of the Lacrimosa which is dedicated to Lech Wałęsa. The composer dedicated other movements of this work to the Polish victims of Auschwitz and the Warsaw uprising in 1944. This was supplemented by the Ciaccona in memoriam Johannes Paul II in 2005 which commemorated the Polish Pope.
Numerous compositions from a variety of genres originated from direct cooperation with outstanding soloists including Anne-Sophie Mutter (2nd violin concerto Metamorphosen, among others), Mstislav Rostropovitsch (Concerto per violoncello ed orchestra no. 2), and Boris Pergamenschikow (Concerto grosso). The composer’s interest was focused on large-scale musical forms, in particular the symphony. Penderecki’s 7th symphony Seven Gates of Jerusalem received its first performance in 1997 demands the forces of five vocal soloists, narrator, three choirs and large orchestra. This work with duration of just over an hour was composed under the title within the context of the 3000-year anniversary of the city. The Old Testament texts of the vocal parts have a close association with Jerusalem’s turbulent history. Entitled Lieder der Vergänglichkeit, his 8th symphony for soloists, choir and large orchestra sets text of German romantic poems related to trees and the woods to music. The work had been commissioned on occasion of the grand opening of the Philharmonie Luxembourg in 2005.
Penderecki is one of the musicians to have received the most awards in his own generation: in 1966 he received the Grand Art Prize from the federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia, in 1967 the Prix Italia and the Sibelius Gold Medal, and in 1970 the prize from the Polish Composers’ Association. He also received the Prix Arthur Honegger (1977), the Sibelius Prize of the Wihuri Foundation, the National Prize of Poland (both in 1983), the Premio Lorenzo il Magnifico (1985), the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition (1992), the Prize of the International Music Council/UNESCO (1993), the Music Prize of the city of Duisburg (1999), the Cannes Award as “Living Composer of the Year” (2000), the Romano Guardini Prize of the Catholic Academy in Bavaria (2002), and the Praemium Imperiale (2004). Since 1990 he has been holder of the Grand Cross for Distinguished Services of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and Chevalier de Saint Georges. In 1995, he became a member of the Royal Academy of Music in Dublin and in 1998 a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 2006, he was made Commander of the Three Star Order in Riga, Latvia and is a member of the Order of the White Eagle in Poland. Krzysztof Penderecki is honorary doctor and honorary professor of numerous international universities.
Helga Davis is a principal actor in the 25th anniversary re-staging of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’s seminal work Einstein on the Beach. In 2012, Ms. Davis appeared twice in BAM’s Next Wave Festival, in Einstein on the Beach and Maya Beiser’s Elsewhere with music by Missy Mazzoli. She had her second appearance at the Barbican in May 2013 to star in the opera Oceanic Verses, written for her by Paola Prestini. Ms. Davis’s past work has included The Blue Planet (2008), a multi-media theater piece written by Peter Greenaway and directed by Saskia Boddeke, and The Temptation of St. Anthony directed by Robert Wilson, with libretto and score by Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock. In February 2008, Davis conducted a special feature interview with artist Kara Walker for WNYC’s Morning Edition on the eve of Ms. Walker’s Whitney Museum retrospective. David Keenan of Wire Magazine describes Ms. Davis as “a powerful vocalist with an almost operatic range and all the bruised sensuality of Jeanne Lee.”
Violist Matthew Lipman has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune for his “splendid technique and musical sensitivity” and by The New York Times for his “rich tone and elegant phrasing.” He has appeared as soloist with the Juilliard, Minnesota, Illinois Philharmonic, Montgomery Symphony, and Southwest Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Grand Rapids and Capital City Symphonies. His performance with the Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra was named “the Most Impressive Debut” in Chicago Classical Review’s “Top 10 Performances of 2010.” Recently, Lipman recorded Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with violinist Rachel Barton Pine, Sir Neville Marriner, and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Lipman has won First Prize at the Washington, Stulberg, and Johansen International Competitions and the WAMSO, Juilliard, and ASTA National Competitions, and is a laureate of the Lionel Tertis and Primrose International Viola Competitions. He has performed at Ravinia, Music@Menlo, the Perlman Music Program, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and has collaborated with Itzhak Perlman, Atar Arad, David Finckel, Miriam Fried, Paul Katz, and Ani and Ida Kavafian. Lipman’s teachers include Heidi Castleman, Misha Amory, Roland Vamos, and Matthew Mantell. Lipman performs on a viola by Matteo Goffriller, 1700, on generous loan from the REB Foundation.
The Penderecki String Quartet, approaching the third decade of an extraordinary career, has become one of the most celebrated chamber ensembles of their generation. These four musicians from Poland, Canada, and the USA bring their varied yet collective experience to create performances that demonstrate their “remarkable range of technical excellence and emotional sweep” (The Globe and Mail). Their recent schedule has included concerts in New York (Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall), Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), Los Angeles (REDCAT at Disney Hall), St. Petersburg, Paris, Prague, Berlin, Rome, Belgrade, Zagreb, Atlanta, as well as appearances at international festivals in Poland, Lithuania, Italy, Venezuela, Brazil, and China. The PSQ champions music of our time, performing a wide range of repertoire from Haydn to Zappa as well as premiering over 100 new works to date. Described by Fanfare Magazine as “an ensemble of formidable power and keen musical sensitivity,” the PSQ’s diverse discography includes the chamber music of Brahms and Shostakovich (Eclectra and Marquis labels) and their recently released Bartok cycle. They enter their 20th year as Quartet-in-Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.
Armed with a diverse spectrum of repertoire and eclectic musical interests, cellist Jay Campbell was recently named First Prize winner of the 2012 Concert Artist Guild auditions. He has been heard on television, radio broadcasts, and in concert halls around the world, including concerto appearances in Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Kultur und Kongresszentrum-Luzern, and the Aspen Music Festival, with conductors Pierre Boulez, Jeffrey Milarsky, and Michael Morgan. Jay made his debut with the New York Philharmonic this past season performing the music of Tan Dun. He has collaborated with an array of artists ranging from composers including Elliott Carter, Pierre Boulez, Magnus Lindberg, and John Adams, to members of Radiohead and Einstürzende Neubauten, and has premiered nearly 100 works to date, including concertos by Chris Rogerson and David Lang. Jay has had the privilege of collaborating with leading ensembles throughout the globe including ICE, Ensemble InterContemporain, the Da Capo Chamber Players, and members of the Arditti, Takács, Kronos, and Afiara string quartets. Highlights of the upcoming season include a debut solo CD on CAG Records and chamber works on Tzadik; appearances at Carnegie Hall, National Gallery, Krannert Center, Mondavi Center, and the Heidelberg Festival; and the premieres of new works written for Jay by John Zorn, Eric Wubbels, Oscar Bianchi, and David Fulmer.
Originally from Wilmette, Illinois, clarinetist Eric Anderson is currently pursuing a Masters of Music at the Yale School of Music. Before arriving at Yale, he completed studies at Oberlin College and Conservatory, earning a Bachelors of Music and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature. His primary teachers include David Shifrin, Richard Hawkins, and Bonnie Campbell. As an orchestral musician, Anderson has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, New World Symphony, and Canton Symphony. In past summers, he has performed at the Spoleto Festival USA, the Aspen Music Festival as a New Horizons Fellow, and at the International Festival at Round Top. An active chamber musician, Anderson has performed with members of the Chicago Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Dallas Symphony, and Houston Symphony. He has also performed contemporary chamber music with members of the International Contemporary Ensemble and composers Du Yun, Rand Steiger, Huang Ruo, Dan Trueman, James Wood, and Lewis Nielson.
Praised by the Rutland Herald for his “natural expressiveness” and “real musical understanding,” Nathan Lesser began studying the violin at the age of four in his home state of Maine. His early teachers include Irene Rissi, Alicia Doudna, and Gilda Joffe. He received his BM in Violin Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of David Bowlin. There, he participated in the recording of William Albright’s Clarinet Quintet with Professor Richard Hawkins and in the performance of the first Shostakovich Violin Concerto, which was rebroadcasted on WQXR in the McGraw Hill Financial Young Artists Showcase. Mr. Lesser is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree at the Yale School of Music, where he is a student of Ani Kavafian.
Born in Pittsburgh, Colin Brookes studied viola with Carolyn Hills and Marylene Gingras-Roy. He soloed with the Pittsburgh Symphony and is a winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society, Symphony North Concerto Competition, Music For Mount Lebanon Competition, and Tuesday Musical Club. Colin holds a Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Heidi Castleman and Misha Amory. In May 2013 he received a Masters degree from Yale School of Music, and is currently pursuing his Artist Diploma there, studying with Ettore Causa. Dedicated to exploring new projects and genres, Colin co-wrote and recorded the film score for Let There Be Sol and has performed new music in the Bowery Ballroom, Bowery Electric, Rockwood Music Hall, the Bell House, Music Hall of Williamsburg, and MoMA.
Alan Ohkubo began studying cello at age seven in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. He later attended Indiana University as a Jacobs Scholar under the tutelage of János Starker, and currently studies with Aldo Parisot at the Yale School of Music. Alan was a member of the New York String Orchestra Seminar in 2008 and 2009, where he took part in a series of concerts in Carnegie Hall under the direction of Jaime Laredo. In 2012 and 2013, Alan also participated in Music Masters Course Japan, an intensive chamber music seminar in Yokohama. Recent performances include solo and chamber music appearances in Tokyo, New York City on the Salon de Virtuosi concert series, and Michigan for the Stulberg International String Competition.
Ensemble Pi, a socially conscious new music group founded in 2002, features composers whose work seeks to open a dialogue between ideas and music on some of the world’s current and critical issues. For the last ten years, Ensemble Pi has presented an annual Peace Project concert, about which The New York Times raved: “music performed clearly evoked conflict and anguish...gracefully played...a fiery and emotive performance.” The ensemble commissions new works and collaborates with visual artists, writers, actors, and journalists, among them South African artist William Kentridge and American journalist/ writer Naomi Wolf, Frederic Rzewski, and Philip Miller. The ensemble was in residence for four American music festivals presented by the American Composers Alliance and now collaborates with the APNM. Ensemble Pi has also created artistic and educational programs in response to major exhibitions at Chelsea Art Museum, The Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. Gramophone wrote of the Ensemble’s first CD, Keep Going, “a touching tribute to Ellias Tanenbaum, played with conviction and verve.” They also appear on the second CD of the music of Laura Kaminsky, released by Albany Records.