About the Panelists
Wendy Lesser is the editor of The Threepenny Review, which she founded in 1980, and the author of nine books, including a novel called The Pagoda in the Garden and eight nonfiction books, among which are Pictures at an Execution, The Amateur, and (most recently) Music for Silenced Voices. She has received awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy in Berlin, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Dedalus Foundation, and many other institutions; she is a current fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences as well as of the New York Institute for the Humanities. Her journalistic writing about literature, dance, film, and music has appeared in a number of periodicals in America and abroad. She also teaches a course called “New York and the Arts” to Hunter College freshmen every year. Born in California in 1952 and educated at Harvard, Cambridge, and UC Berkeley, Lesser now divides her time between Berkeley and New York. She is married to Richard Rizzo and has one son, Nick Rizzo.
Violinist Eugene Drucker, a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, is also an active soloist. He has appeared with the orchestras of Montreal, Brussels, Antwerp, Liege, Hartford, Richmond, Omaha, Jerusalem, and the Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as with the American Symphony Orchestra and Aspen Chamber Symphony. A graduate of Columbia University and the Juilliard School, where he studied with Oscar Shumsky, Mr. Drucker was concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra, with which he appeared as soloist several times. He made his New York debut as a Concert Artists Guild winner in the fall of 1976, after having won prizes at the Montreal Competition and the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. Mr. Drucker has recorded the complete unaccompanied works of Bach, recently reissued by Parnassus Records, and the complete sonatas and duos of Bartók for Biddulph Recordings. His novel, The Savior, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2007 and has recently appeared in a German translation called Wintersonate, published by Osburg Verlag in Berlin. Mr. Drucker's compositional debut, a setting of four sonnets by Shakespeare, was premiered by baritone Andrew Nolen and the Escher String Quartet at Stony Brook in 2008; the songs have appeared as part of a 2-CD release called Stony Brook Soundings, issued by Bridge Recordings in the spring of 2010. Eugene Drucker lives in New York with his wife, cellist Roberta Cooper, and their son Julian.
About the Performers
Violinist Laurie Smukler’s performing career has been multi-faceted. As the founding first violinist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet, she spent eight years with them, traveling and performing internationally. She has also performed and toured with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society. With her husband, Ira Weller, she directed and performed in the respected series The Collection in Concert, at the Pierpont Morgan Library. She now plays first violin in two part-time string quartets, the Bard Festival String Quartet and the Purchase Faculty String Quartet. Dedicated to teaching as well as to performing, Laurie Smukler is Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College, and is a respected member of the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music and the Conservatory of Music at Bard College. Ms. Smukler also teaches and performs at the prestigious Kneisel Hall Festival in Blue Hill, Maine, in the summer. She has a particular interest in contemporary music and has premiered works by many composers including Ned Rorem, Morton Subotnik, Steven Paulus, Shulamit Ran, and Bruce Adolphe.
Violinist Calvin Wiersma has appeared throughout the world as a soloist and chamber musician. He has performed numerous solo recitals, including appearances in Boston, New York, and Chicago, and has appeared with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, The Concerto Company of Boston, and the Lawrence Symphony. In addition to his current membership with the Manhattan String Quartet, he was a founding member of the Meliora Quartet, winner of the Naumberg, Fischoff, Coleman, and Cleveland Quartet competitions, and the Quartet-in-Residence of the Spoleto Festivals of the United States, Italy, and Australia, and was also a founding member of the Figaro Trio. Mr. Wiersma’s wide range of musical activities have recently included an international tour soloing with Kathleen Battle, tours with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, appearances at the Berkshire Bach Festival performing the complete Brandenburg concertos, and concerts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with flutist Paula Robison. A noted performer of contemporary music, Mr. Wiersma is a member of Cygnus, Lochrian Chamber Ensemble, and Ensemble Sospeso. Mr. Wiersma is an Assistant Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at the Purchase Conservatory of Music.
Daniel Panner enjoys a varied career as a performer and teacher. As violist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet, he concertized extensively throughout the United States and Israel. He has performed at music festivals in Marlboro, Tanglewood, and Aspen and has collaborated with members of the Cleveland, Emerson, Guarneri, and Juilliard String Quartets. As a member of the Whitman String Quartet, Panner received the 1998 Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Award and served as teaching assistant to the Juilliard String Quartet for two years. He currently teaches at the Juilliard School, the Mannes College of Music, and the Queens College Conservatory of Music. He has served as the principal violist of such orchestras as the New York City Opera and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra. An active performer of new music, he is a member of Sequitur and the Locrian Ensemble and has performed as guest with Speculum Musicae, the Da Capo Chamber Players, and Transit Circle; he has recorded solo viola works by Thea Musgrave and Victoria Bond. Mr. Panner studied with Jesse Levine at Yale University, at the Curtis Institute of Music with Joseph dePasquale and the Juilliard School with Samuel Rhodes.
Cellist Darrett Adkins has given many important first performances including works by Donatoni, Andrew Mead, Samuel Barber, and Luciano Berio. During his tenure with the Flux Quartet, he also participated in numerous first performances, including the first complete live performance of Morton Feldman’s monumental Quartet II. His many performances of Norwegian works and with Norwegian musicians earned him a Cultural Arts Grant from the American Scandinavian Society in 2004. He has appeared in major festivals in New York, Melbourne, Ojai, and Oslo. Other recent appearances include standard concertos with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Tokyo Philharmonic, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Tochio Soloisten, Seoul’s Prime Orchestra, Cleveland’s Red, the North Carolina and New Hampshire Symphony Orchestras, and the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble. Mr. Adkins is on faculty at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the Juilliard School, and the Aspen Music Festival and School. He lives in Oberlin, OH with his wife Ingrid and their three children.