About the Composers
Carlos Chávez was a renowned composer, conductor, and educator whose distinctive, often highly percussive music synthesized elements of Mexican, Indian, and Spanish-Mexican influence. A prolific writer of music and music criticism, Chávez’s oeuvre includes five ballets, seven symphonies, four concertos, a cantata and opera, and innumerable pieces for voice, piano, and chamber ensemble. Chávez was trained primarily as a pianist and developed much of his compositional skills independent of instructors. Coming of age at the close of the Mexican revolution and during a time of renewed cultural nationalism, Chávez’s investigation of indigenous Indian cultures, native folk elements, and dance forms brought an unprecedented vigor and visibility to 20th-century Mexican music. He organized and served as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico and conducted nearly every major orchestra in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.
Identity has always been at the center of Gabriela Lena Frank’s music. Born in Berkeley, California, to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Frank explores her multicultural heritage most ardently through her compositions. Inspired by the works of Bela Bartók and Alberto Ginastera, Frank is something of a musical anthropologist. She has traveled extensively throughout South America and her pieces reflect and refract her studies of Latin-American folklore, incorporating poetry, mythology, and native musical styles into a western classical framework that is uniquely her own. She writes, “There’s usually a story line behind my music; a scenario or character.”
Osvaldo Golijov grew up in an Eastern European Jewish household in La Plata, Argentina, surrounded by classical chamber music, Jewish liturgical, and klezmer music, and the new tango of Ástor Piazzolla. He moved to Israel in 1983, where he studied with Mark Kopytman at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy and immersed himself in the colliding musical traditions of that city. Upon moving to the United States in 1986, Golijov earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania where he studied with George Crumb, and was a fellow at Tanglewood studying with Oliver Knussen. In 2006 Lincoln Center presented a sold-out festival called “The Passion of Osvaldo Golijov,” featuring performances of his major works. In 2007 he was named first composer-in-residence at the Mostly Mozart Festival. He is currently co-composer-in-residence, together with Marc-Anthony Turnage, at the Chicago Symphony. Golijov is Loyola Professor of Music at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.
Gutierre Fernández Hidalgo was tutored by Juan Navarro and worked in various churches in Spain, including as maestro de capilla. In 1583 he boarded a ship for the New World, and within a year found himself the maestro de capilla of the Cathedral of Santafé (today’s Bogotá). In a controversial appointment he also became rector of the Tridentine seminary of San Luís. With the help of the bishop, he then forced all the seminarians to sing every day for him at the Cathedral, providing for himself a “volunteer” choir. But it didn’t last: when all the students fled, he lost his job. He repeated this ploy in Quito, being both maestro de capilla of the cathedral and priest of a parish. His parishioners balked and again he lost his job. He then served the cathedrals of Lima, Cuzco in the Andes, and La Plata, then went back to Cuzco and finally in 1612 back to La Plata, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Composer-pianist Vijay Iyer is one of today’s most acclaimed and respected young American jazz artists. He received the Musician of the Year award in the 2010 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards, the 2010 Echo Award (the “German Grammy”) for best international ensemble with his trio, and the Downbeat Critics Poll for #1 rising star small ensemble of the year. His latest recordings on the ACT label include Solo, and his trio album Historicity, which was named the #1 jazz album of 2009 by The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, the annual Village Voice jazz critics poll, and the Downbeat International Critics Poll. Iyer has also composed orchestral and chamber works; scored for film, theater, radio and television; collaborated with poets and choreographers; and joined forces with artists in hip-hop, rock, experimental, electronic, and Indian classical music. He teaches at Manhattan School of Music, New York University, The New School, and School for Improvisational Music.
Antonio Carlos Jobim is best known for his contributions to the development and popularity of bossa nova. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jobim was exposed to the sounds of samba as well as those of jazz, which was reaching a commercial peak in the 1930s and 40s. Soon Jobim’s talent was recognized in the United States, particularly by jazz saxophonist Stan Getz. In 1963 Getz invited Jobim and João Gilberto, the guitarist and composer who created bossa nova, to collaborate with him on an album. The music was a direct convergence of jazz improvisation and the tranquil bossa nova style, and became a commercial success. His “The Girl From Ipanema,” and “Corcovado” have become some of the most-played songs in jazz.
Born in Mexico City in 1943, Mario Lavista began piano studies as a child and enrolled at the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica in 1963 under the guidance of Carlos Chavez, Hector Quintanar, and Rodolfo Halffter. He studied at the Schola Cantorum in Paris, where he also attended courses given by Henri Pousseur, Nadia Boulanger, Christoph Caskel, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Upon his return to Mexico he founded Quanta, a collective improvisation group. In 1972, he worked at the electronic music studio of radio and television in Tokyo, Japan. He has worked on interdisciplinary projects, such as Jaula (1976), and in the creation of multiple scores for films produced by Nicolas Echevarria. In 1982, he founded Pauta, one of the most important music journals in Latin America, and has served as its chief editor ever since. In 1987, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his first and only opera Aura. Lavista has taught in Mexico and abroad including the University of Chicago, Cornell University, University of California San Diego, Indiana University, and McGill University.
Tania León is highly regarded as a composer and conductor recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. Recent premieres include Esencia para Cuarteto de Cuerdas, commissioned by the Fromm Foundation for the Del Sol String Quartet; Ácana premiered by Orpheus at Carnegie Hall and the Purchase College Orchestra; and Ancients for 2 sopranos and mixed ensemble commissioned by Carolina Performing Arts for the Festival on the Hill. Recent awards include a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Ácana, Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Fromm Music Foundation commission. She is on faculty at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York.
Arturo Márquez was born in Sonora, Mexico in 1950. He began his musical training in La Puente, California in 1966, later studying piano and music theory at the CNM and composition at the Taller de Composición of the Instituto de Bellas Artes de Mexico with Joaquín Gutiérrez Heras, Hector Quintanar, and Federico Ibarra. He also studied in Paris privately with Jacques Castérède, and at the California Institute of the Arts with Morton Subotnick, Stephen Mosko, Mel Powell, and James Newton. In recent years, Márquez has written a series of danzones, works based on an elegant Cuban dance that migrated to Veracruz. His Danzón No. 2 is among the most popular Latin American works to emerge since the 1950s. In February 2006, Arturo Márquez received the “Medalla de Oro de Bellas Artes,” the highest honor given to artists by Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes. Márquez has received commissions from the OAS, the Universidad Metropolitana de Mexico, the UNAM, Festival Cervantino, Festival del Caribe, Festival de la Ciudad de México, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He has received grants from the Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA), the French Government, and the Fulbright Foundation.
Pablo Mayor is a composer, arranger, and pianist from Colombia. His work with the Folklore Urbano Orchestra has produced three CDs and taken the band to international venues. He founded the annual “Encounter of Colombian Musicians in New York,” an event uniting Colombian musicians. Mayor was invited to speak on Colombian music at the Colombian Embassy on Capitol Hill during the 2008 celebration featuring Petrona Martínez. He has been active as educator of Colombian music leading an annual Colombian music residency at PS/IS 217 on Roosevelt Island through a partnership grant with Turtle Bay Music School. Mayor has been working as both pianist and arranger for Orquesta Broadway and his big band compositions were recorded by the Grammy Award winning One O’Clock Lab band and his music was performed in March 2009 by Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra at Symphony Space in NYC. He is a professor of Latin piano at the Harbor Conservatory and has taught jazz arranging at the Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory. He holds both a B.A. and an M.A. in Jazz Arranging from the University of North Texas.
Arturo O’Farrill, pianist, composer, educator, and winner of the Latin Jazz USA Outstanding Achievement Award for 2003, was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. In 2002, Mr. O’Farrill created the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra for Jazz at Lincoln Center due in part to a large and very demanding body of substantial music in the genre of Latin and Afro Cuban Jazz that deserves to be much more widely appreciated and experienced by the general jazz audience. His debut album with the Orchestra Una Noche Inolvidable earned a GRAMMY award nomination in 2006. Mr. O’Farrill played piano with the Carla Bley Big Band from 1979 through 1983. He then went on to develop as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Freddy Cole, The Fort Apache Band, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. A recognized composer, Mr. O’Farrill has received commissions from Meet the Composer, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Philadelphia Music Project, and The Big Apple Circus. He has also composed music for films including Hollywoodland and Salud.
Born in Argentina in 1921, Ástor Piazzolla spent much of his first 25 years in New York City, and also lived and studied in Paris. Besides being a noted composer, he was also a virtuoso performer on the bandoneón, a sought-after orchestra leader, chamber musician, and arranger. Over the span of his career he wrote more than 1000 works ranging from orchestral suites to an electric octet. He studied with famous musicians including Bartók, Boulanger, Ginastera, and Stravinsky, and was also heavily influenced by jazz musicians Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway. This interest in such wide variety of music is often cited as the reason for his distinctive style; he is particularly known for his tangos, which blend the dance form and the formal concert piece.
Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez was born in Mexico City in 1964 and now lives in the New York Tundra, where he teaches composition at the Eastman School of Music. He studied with Jacob Druckman, Martin Bresnick, Steven Mackey and Henri Dutilleux at Yale, Princeton and Tanglewood, respectively. He has received many of the standard awards in the field (e.g. Barlow, Guggenheim, Fulbright, Koussevitzky, Fromm, American Academy of Arts and Letters.) He likes machines with hiccups and spiders with missing legs, looks at Paul Klee’s Notebooks every day, hasn’t grown much since he reached adulthood at age 14, and tries to use the same set of ears to listen to Bach, Radiohead, or Ligeti.
Composer Roberto Sierra studied composition in Europe, notably with György Ligeti in Hamburg, Germany. He came to prominence in 1987 when his first major orchestral composition, Júbilo, was performed at Carnegie Hall by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Since then, his works have been performed by the orchestras of San Francisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, San Antonio, and Phoenix, by the American Composers Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, Continuum, England’s BBC Symphony, Wolf Trap, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Festival Casals of Puerto Rico, France’s Festival de Lille, the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, and Germany’s Neue Musik Bonn. Sierra’s Missa Latina was premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., conducted by Leonard Slatkin to considerable acclaim. Sierra is a professor at Cornell University where he teaches composition.
Heitor Villa-Lobos, born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was one of the foremost Latin American composers of the 20th century, whose music combines indigenous melodic and rhythmic elements with Western classical music. He learned to play cello and guitar and was inspired by music from J.S. Bach. While traveling with his family to various regions of the vast country, he also developed an interest in native Brazilian folk music. He left home at age 18 because his widowed mother opposed his “delinquent” friends and wanted him to become a doctor. Instead he became a musical vagabond, playing cello and guitar to support himself while traveling. He began a serious study of the works of Bach, Wagner, and Puccini, whose influence can be noted in his compositions. In 1919 he met the pianist Artur Rubinstein, who helped advance Villa-Lobos’s reputation by playing his music in concerts throughout the world.
Mexican-born composer Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon received his undergraduate degree in guitar and composition from the University of California at San Diego, and both a Master’s degree and PhD in composition from the University of Pennsylvania, where his principal teacher was George Crumb. Zohn-Muldoon’s honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Tanglewood Music Center, Camargo Foundation, Endowment for Culture and the Arts of Mexico, a Mozart Medal from the Embassy of Austria in México, and commissions from the Fromm Foundation and U.S./Mexico Fund for Culture. His works have been performed by the Sirius Ensemble, eighth blackbird, Chicago Contemporary Chamber Players, Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Earplay, Neue Ensemble Hannover, and San Francisco Contemporary Players. Zohn-Muldoon joined the faculty of the Eastman School of Music in 2002.
About the Performers
More than an ensemble, the Afro-Cuban Jazz Saxtet is a forum for these 5 composers and multi-instrumentalists to give wind to theirpersonal explorations in roots music. Steeped in history as old as the saxophone and modern woodwinds and from around the time the drum and its sacred African rhythms were banned in Cuba, New Orleans, and the rest of the diaspora, this group works in past, present, future.
Pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill founded the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) in 2002 to perform compositions of masters such as Machito, Tito Puente, Chico O’Farrill, and others, and to keep this culturally rich tradition alive by continuing to commission new works. From 2002 to 2007, the ALJO was a resident orchestra of Jazz at Lincoln Center, performing an extensive concert schedule at Lincoln Center, touring nationally and internationally, and earning a GRAMMY nomination for its first album, Una Noche Inolvidable. In 2007 the ALJO left Lincoln Center and established a residency at Symphony Space, where it is currently in its fourth season. The Orchestra earned a GRAMMY for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2009 for its second album, Song for Chico. The ALJO released its newest album, 40 Acres and a Burro, in February 2011.
Founded by Latin music historian, composer and musician Aurora Flores and her husband, musical director and arranger David Fernandez, Aurora & Zon del Barrio is a play on the words “Son” the musical genre found throughout the Caribbean and L.A. and “Zone” where Latinos live, work and struggle to find their balance in the “zone.” An intergenerational group whose members span several ages, its young percussion section is already being called “los monstruitos” as these “little monsters” of rhythm are making a name for themselves alongside the ladies of ZDB that provide the PANTY POWER of this ensemble’s swing. Combined with the power of jazz and dance rhythms from our built in arranger and multi-instrumentalist the music monster himself, David Fernandez, Zon del Barrio brings their classic mix of covers and original tunes from the streets of Latin N.Y. to stages from the South Bronx to the South of France.
A sophisticated jazz and contemporary world singer from Peru, Corina Bartra was the first vocalist to blend Afro Peruvian, criolla music, and jazz. She also pioneered subtle and exciting instrumental textures in her compositions and her arrangements. She writes extensive intros, interludes, and solos filled with inventive rhythms and beautiful harmonies. Corina was the recipient of the prestigious Queens Council on the Arts award in 2008. She has pioneered a ground-breaking fusion of jazz and Afro Latin music with her releases: Corina Bartra Quartet, Son Zumbon, and Travelog, where for the first time one could hear the incorporation of the cajón and the festejo groove blended with jazz.
Internationally renowned composer, arranger, and master of the bandoneón, Argentine Daniel Binelli tours extensively in concert and recital. He is widely acclaimed as the foremost exponent and torchbearer of the music of Ástor Piazzolla. In 1989 Daniel Binelli joined Ástor Piazzolla´s New Tango Sextet, touring internationally. Binelli has appeared as guest soloist with the Symphony Orchestras of Philadelphia, Atlanta, Virginia, Sydney, Tonhalle in Zurich, Montreal, Ottawa, and St. Petersburg. Binelli conducted Piazzolla´s operita: María de Buenos Aires in Sicily with Italian singer Milva. Binelli’s collaborations incude duo performances with pianist Polly Ferman and guitarist Eduardo Isaac, as well as the Binelli- Ferman- Isaac Trio. Daniel Binelli is the Musical Director of Tango Metropolis Company and was featured in a PBS Documentary Tango the Spirit of Argentina and on a BBC documentary on Piazzolla’s life.
Grammy-winning pianist, arranger, and conductor Octavio Brunetti studied piano in his hometown of Rosario, Argentina. Before graduating, he was already performing a variety of music styles. But his love for the tango prevailed and soon he was playing with many of Argentina’s most important tango musicians and singers, such as Alberto Castillo, Eladia Blazquez, Ruben Juarez, Domingo Federico, Rodolfo Mederos, Osvaldo Piro and Atilio Stampone. He moved in 2004 to the United States where his participation in New York’s International Tango Competition won him two first prizes: Best Solo Pianist and Best Duo. He now successfully tours with his own band, the Octavio Brunetti Quintet, and is one of the most sought-after tango pianists of our times. His recordings include Soledad by Ástor Piazzolla with world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma (Appassionato by Sony BMGClassical), and Grammy Award-winning CD Te amo Tango with Raul Jaurena.
Calpulli Danza Mexicana was founded in 2003 by a group of artists working and living in New York City. Its mission is to teach and produce dance-based programming incorporating live music and theatre to promote the rich diversity of Mexican cultural heritage. Calpulli is a word of the Nahuatl language referring to the groups or clans categorized by trade, which contributed to the whole of the Aztec civilization. This young, energetic group is a calpulli of artists. Calpulli produces professional performances via its touring company, arts in education programming, and award-winning community outreach activities most notably its Youth Dance program.
Chilcano was formed at New York University’s Jazz Department, where we studied Peruvian music with trumpeter Gabriel Alegria and percussionist Freddie “Huevito” Lobatón. The potential of the band was spotted immediately by Dr. Alegria, who helped to quickly elevate Chilcano to professional status. Since October of 2010 the group has performed weekly at Tutuma Social Club, at St. Peter’s “Jazz Church,” and the Blue Note. The group received a generous grant from the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation to support a CD recording and a concert Tour in Peru in May 2011. According to the wishes of Ella herself, the members of Chilcano will travel to schools in New York City to share the experience of Afro-Peruvian music with young people.
The Colorado Quartet was catapulted onto the scene by back-to-back wins at the Banff International String Quartet and Naumburg competitions and was the first all-women quartet to attain international stature. The Colorado Quartet has taught at Yale University, and held residencies at the Oberlin College-Conservatory, the Banff and Orford Centres, Amherst, Swarthmore, and Skidmore Colleges, and the New School of Music in Philadelphia. Their recording of works by Henry Cowell was named a “best of 1999” by Gramophone Magazine, and a CD of Schubert and Mendelssohn received the Chamber Music America/WQXR recording award in 2001. The Colorado Quartet is Artistic Director of the Soundfest Chamber Music Festival and Quartet Institute on Cape Cod.
The Damocles Trio has performed throughout the USA, appearing numerous times at Alice Tully Hall, and completed highly successful tours of Switzerland. The trio has been featured frequently on “Young Artists Showcase” on WQXR radio. Recent performances have included recitals at BargeMusic, University of Maryland, Amarillo Chamber Music Society, Third Street Music School Settlement, Merkin Concert Hall, and the North River Music series. The trio also produced “Música por doquier” (“Hispanic Music Everywhere”) in 2004, a year-long festival in New York City including master classes, concerts, and premieres of newly commissioned works.
A concert violinist since the age of four, Elmira Darvarova performs worldwide to great acclaim, having won prizes at international competitions, including the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. She studied with music legends Henryk Szeryng and Joseph Gingold. Herbert von Karajan chose her for one of his film projects. She caused a sensation becoming the first ever female concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera. She has also led, as concertmaster, the Rochester Philharmonic, Columbus Symphony, and Grant Park Symphony. She has appeared in recitals and as soloist on four continents, and has performed concertos with the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra and numerous other European orchestras. She is president and artistic director of the New York Chamber Music Festival.
Formed at the Eastman School of Music—one of the world’s leading musical institutions—by composers Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon and Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, the Eastman BroadBand is a flexible group whose aim is to explore the many facets of contemporary music-making. Its programs focus on the music of our time, placing a special emphasis on the music of living Mexican composers. Among the Eastman BroadBand’s appearances are those at the Joyce Theatre with the Garth Fagan Dance Company on the New York premiere of Fagan’s Edge/Joy, the SpazioMusica Festival in Cagliari, Italy, the Festival Internacional in Chihuahua, and the Festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajuato, Mexico.
One of the leading interpreters of the music of the Americas, New York-based pianist Polly Ferman’s extensive tours as a soloist have included performances with the Symphonies of San Francisco, Colorado, Vancouver, and Indianapolis, as well as the Tokyo Philharmonic, Kharkov Philharmonic Orchestra, Philippines Philharmonic, Sâo Paulo State Symphony, National Symphony of Argentina, and Camerata Romeu in Cuba, in addition to recitals at Carnegie Hall, Tokyo’s Suntory and Takemitsu Halls, Virginia’s Wolf Trap, London’s St. Martin in the Fields, Koncert Halle of Munich, and the Buenos Aires Teatro Colón. Her performances were featured in the Brazilian movie A Viuva da Rua Siria. She is the creator, Music Director, and pianist of GlamourTango, a multimedia music and dance show, celebrating Women in Tango with an all female cast.
Damian Fernandez (Ph.D., University of Miami) is a specialist on Cuban and Latin American politics. Dr. Fernandez currently serves as Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Purchase College, State University of New York. He is the former director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University and served as lead investigator of a National Science Foundation-funded research initiative focusing on political culture, social capital and community among Latinos in the U.S. A widely published scholar, he is a leading expert on culture and politics in Cuba. His book, Cuba and the Politics of Passion has been adopted for undergraduate and graduate courses at Princeton, University of Michigan, Tulane, Georgetown, and Amherst, among other universities. Dr. Fernandez has been recently selected to be Head of School of Ethical Culture Fieldston, a position that he will assume on July 1st.
Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana is a thriving Spanish dance company known for its exceptional arts education programming, innovative dance performances, domestic touring, and community-based initiatives. Since its founding in 1983, the company has been committed to using flamenco as a bridge between cultures. The company’s core values include introducing Spanish dance to a broad spectrum of audiences, preserving the traditions of flamenco and Spanish dance, and guiding the art form’s modern evolution. Flamenco Vivo has performed at the Joyce Theater for the past nine years and across New York’s five boroughs during our “Flamenco in the Boros” Tour. Flamenco Vivo’s education programs reach approximately 28,000 students annually, in New York and throughout the United States.
The Harlem Quartet, praised for its “panache” by The New York Times, is currently the resident ensemble in the New England Conservatory of Music’s Professional String Quartet Program. The quartet opened its 2009-10 season returning as featured soloists on the national Sphinx Chamber Orchestra Tour, making stops coast-to-coast including Carnegie Hall, Eastman School of Music, Oberlin College, and Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. In December it played two performances at the White House for guests of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and made an appearance Christmas morning on NBC’s Today Show. In 2009 the quartet also performed by invitation with Itzhak Perlman at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and made its London debut performing at the residence of the US ambassador to the UK.
La Catrina String Quartet’s unique blend of Latin-American and standard repertoire has proved enormously entertaining for its diverse audiences. Currently Faculty Quartet-in-Residence at New Mexico State University, La Catrina Quartet tours regularly throughout the US and Mexico, and has received Western Michigan University’s All University Research and Creative Scholar Award, Bascom Little Fund Grant, and the North Carolina Arts Council cARTwheels 2009 and 2010 touring program. They have premiered works by composers Thomas Janson, John Ferrito, and Zae Munn and served as Quartet-in-Residence of the Western Piedmont Symphony. They were also in residence at the Chamber Music Festival of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where they collaborated with the Brentano Quartet, Poulenc Trio, and the Miami Quartet.
David Leisner has a multi-faceted career as an electrifying performing artist, distinguished composer, and master teacher. One of the world’s leading classical guitarists, his superb musicianship and provocative programming have been applauded by critics and audiences around the globe. He has recorded CDs for the Azica, Naxos, Telarc, Koch, and Etcetera labels, and a solo concert DVD on the Mel Bay label. David Leisner’s recent seasons have taken him around the US, including his solo debut with the Atlanta Symphony, a major tour of Australia and New Zealand, and debuts and reappearances in Japan, the Philippines, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, the U.K., Italy, Czech Republic, Greece, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. His own compositions, noted for their emotional and dramatic power, have been performed, recorded and published worldwide. Leisner is also co-chairman of the guitar department at the Manhattan School of Music.
Praised by The New York Times for its “beautifully blended readings,” Meridionalis is Americas Society’s vocal ensemble, dedicated to the performance of early choral music from Latin America. They have appeared at the MetLife Foundation Music of the Americas Concert Series and at the Look and Listen and the Look and Listen Festival.
Pianist John Novacek regularly tours the Americas, Europe, and Asia as solo recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist. Novacek’s major American performances have been heard in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, Kennedy Center, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center, and the Hollywood Bowl while international venues include Paris’ Theatre des Champs-Elysées, London’s Wigmore Hall, and most of the major concert halls of Japan. He is also frequently seen and heard on television, including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Entertainment Tonight, and CNN International. Novacek is a much sought-after collaborative artist and has performed with Joshua Bell, Matt Haimovitz, Leila Josefowicz, Cho-Liang Lin, Yo-Yo Ma, Truls Mork, Elmar Oliveira, Emmanuel Pahud, and the Colorado, Harrington, Jupiter, New Hollywood, St. Lawrence, SuperNova, and Ying string quartets. He also tours widely as a member of Intersection, a piano trio.
Flutist Tara Helen O’Connor is a charismatic performer sought after for her unusual artistic depth, brilliant technique, and colorful tone in music of every era. Tara is a member of the innovative woodwind quintet Windscape, a founding member of the Naumburg Award winning New Millennium Ensemble, and the flute soloist of the world renowned Bach Aria Group. A 2001 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, she also received two Grammy nominations in January of 2003 for Osvaldo Golijov’s recording entitled Yiddishbbuk. She was the first wind player to be chosen to participate in the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Centers Chamber Music Society Two program for emerging artists. Tara now performs regularly with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Orpheus, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Spoleto USA, Chamber Music Northwest, Music from Angel Fire, and the Brandenburg Ensemble.
Adam O’Farrill and Zack O’Farrill started the O’Farrill Brothers Band in September 2009. They made their start playing at Puppet’s Jazz Bar in Brooklyn and released their first album in 2011 on ZOHO Music, entitled Giant Peach, which contains 7 original compositions by the band members and 1 cover. The Wall Street Journal said that the album “bristles with confidence and creativity.” They have performed in many prominent venues in NYC, including The Jazz Gallery, Symphony Space, and Cornelia Street Café. The members have individually performed with a variety of music luminaries as Stefon Harris, Arturo O’Farrill, Bob Mintzer, Bobby Watson, Imani Winds, Esperanza Spalding, and DJ Logic, and have performed at the 2011 GRAMMY Awards, Mount Fuji Jazz Festival, Birdland Jazz Club, Chicago Jazz Showcase, the White House, and the Carefusion Newport Jazz Festival.
Argentine composer and pianist Fernando Otero found his voice as writer, musician, and bandleader when, at the urging of one of his music teachers, he began to incorporate the indigenous sounds of his native Buenos Aires into his work. Otero had already begun to experiment with rudimentary home recordings and was eager to start writing on his own, though he gravitated more to a jazz idiom than a classical one. As he recalls, a guitar and composition instructor, Marcelo Braga Saralegui “showed me the possibility of developing something with the roots of tango, the sound of tango. Not necessarily tango itself, but the music I heard as a child, the sound in the streets. I started working with a bandoneon player and tried my first project, which I called X Tango.” Twenty years have passed since Otero opened his ears to this wealth of ideas, and ever since he has pursued his vision of X Tango. He has collaborated with one-time Bill Evans sideman Eddie Gomez, flautist Dave Valentin, pianist/film composer Dave Grusin, Chico O’Farrill’s Jazz Orchestra at Jazz @Lincoln Center, and clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera.
Cristina Pato has already opened historical new paths for the Gaita (Galician bagpipe) and has collaborated with world music, jazz, classical, and experimental artists (including Chicago Symphony, Yo-Yo Ma, The Chieftains, and the Royal Pipe Band). Pato fuses the influences of Latin music, jazz, pop and contemporary music, and uses her artistry and unprecedented virtuosic skill to bring her musical vision to life. Pato is a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. Her career has led to performances throughout major stages throughout the world in the U.S., India, Jerusalem, Portugal, Brazil, the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Mexico, and her native Spain. Pato produced and composed the soundtrack of the Spanish film El Hombre de Arena. Ms. Pato served as artistic director of the Chamber Series for the 40th anniversary of Fundacion Barrie de la Maza.
The Poulenc Trio is the most active touring piano-wind chamber music ensemble in the world. In a recent review, the Washington Post said the trio “does its namesake proud” in “an intriguing and beautifully played program” with “convincing elegance, near effortless lightness and grace.” The Trio has garnered positive attention in recent full-length profiles by Chamber Music Magazine, and by the Double Reed Journal. Since its founding in 2003, the Poulenc Trio has effectively doubled the repertoire available for the oboe, bassoon, and piano ensemble, with 20 new works written for and premiered by the group. The Trio has also made a commitment to explore and promote musics that reflect its members’ African, Pan-American, Eastern European, and Jewish roots. Recent concerts have featured works by Afro-Cuban jazz great Paquito D’Rivera, Mexican-American composer Carlos Medina, and Russian-American composer Natalyia Medvedovskaya.
Accordionist Victor Prieto is a native of Galicia, Spain and studied at the Orense Conservatory, Estudio Escola de Musica, and Berklee College of Music. Today Prieto is revolutionizing the way that the accordion is played by creating new sounds and techniques for this instrument. His music embraces jazz, tango, classical and Celtic roots enriched with new rhythms and colors. He is the creator of a new technique for the accordion called “chord approach on both hands,” which creates rich and elaborate harmonies. As a leader Prieto has performed at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Blue Note NY, New Jersey Performance Art Center, Three Rivers Musical Festival, Williamsburg Jazz Festival, and Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center. Prieto has performed and recorded with Yo-Yo Ma, Billy Hart, Jeff Ballard, Chris Cheek, Paquito D’Rivera, Matt Wilson, Donny McCaslin, and Lionel Louke, and is involved in projects such as The Maria Schneider Orchestra and Emilio Solla’s Jazz Tango Conspiracy.
The Quintet of the Americas is one of the Western Hemisphere’s finest chamber ensembles. The Washington Post has called their performances, “Musical dialogue at the highest level” and Japan’s InTune Magazine has written about them, “Their virtuosity, balances, articulation and intonation mark them as one of the world’s top wind quintets. I have never heard finer playing.” Long recognized as leading interpreters of folk and contemporary wind quintet music of North and South America, the group’s mission is to broaden the knowledge and appreciation of woodwind chamber music from the Western Hemisphere by performing contemporary, classical, and folk-derived music from the diverse cultural traditions of the Americas, and the performance, commissioning, and recording of woodwind quintets and related chamber music. The Quintet is in residence at New York University.
Sonia Rubinsky, born in Brazil of Slavic origin, has lived in Israel where she studied piano at the Jerusalem Academy of Music, and most of her adult life in New York and Paris. She holds a DMA and MMA from The Juilliard School. Singled out by Arthur Rubinstein, Rubinky is a worldwide acclaimed soloist. She has recorded the complete piano works of Villa-Lobos in eight volumes for Naxos. The 8th volume won the Latin GRAMMY Award in 2009 as Best Recording of the Year, while the first volume was one of the five best releases of 1999, and the fifth was Editor’s Choice of October 2006, both for Gramophone Magazine. Rubinsky also recorded for Albany Records (Liderman), Clássicos (Mozart), Algol (Scarlatti, Mendelssohn), and Daghlian label (Debussy, Villa-Lobos, Messiaen). Sonia Rubinsky was recently nominated Artist in Residence by Murray Perahia at the Edward Aldwell International Center in Jerusalem, Israel.
James Nyoraku Schlefer is a leading performer and teacher of shakuhachi in New York City. Called “A Master of the Shakuhachi” by The New York Times, he received the Dai-Shi-Han (Grand Master) certificate in 2001, one of only a handful of non-Japanese to receive this high level award. In 2008, he received his second Shi-Han certificate from Mujuan Dojo, in Kyoto. In Japan, Schlefer has worked with Reibo Aoki, Katsuya Yokoyama, Yoshio Kurahashi, Yoshinobu Taniguchi, and Kifu Mitsuhashi. He holds a Master’s degree in Western flute and musicology from Queens College and currently teaches music history courses at the City University of New York. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, BAM, the Metropolitan Museum, and at colleges and universities throughout the US. Schlefer has been a soloist in several orchestral settings including the New York City Opera, Karl Jenkins’ Requiem, and others, and is a member of the Japanese music group Ensemble East, which performs traditional and modern music for Japanese instruments. Nyoraku Sensei is head of the Kyo-Shin-An teaching studio in New York City. As a composer, Schlefer has written many pieces for Japanese instruments including a shakuhachi concerto and a quintet for shakuhachi and string quartet.
Chris Vasquez has been recognized internationally for his passionate interpretations of tango. The NY Argentine Consulate awarded Mr. Vasquez the honored prize of “Best Singer” at their International Tango Competition, and he was a finalist in the Medellín International Tango Festival. He has performed at many reputable places in the US including the Museo del Barrio and The Spanish Institute in NY and has been a soloist with the Long Island Symphony, the Americas Vocal Ensemble, and pleased to be performing again with Quintet of the Americas. He has written and produced several tango shows including the celebrated The Son of Tango: A Tribute to Carlos Gardel. As an actor, he has been seen in theater, film, and TV in the USA and Spain and has toured in concert in Rumania, Bulgaria, and China. Mr. Vasquez holds degrees from Tufts University and from New England Conservatory of Music.
In its 16 years of existence, XPlau has been mixing electronic beats and synthesizer with classical music and Brazilian rhythms synchronized with images. It all began with Greek composer Iannis Xenakis and images of the work by Catalan architect Gaudi. It was with this project that we created our “mosaic” technique which is the same that we used with Villa Lobos Remix. “It’s an honor to represent Brazil and our greatest composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos. We can’t wait to hear what our electronic beats will sound like with Sonia Rubinsky´s piano and the Colorado String Quartet.” -Antonio Sartori, Producer, XPlau
Violinist Airi Yoshioka has concertized throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Canada as a recitalist, soloist, and chamber musician. Deeply committed to chamber music, she is the founding member of the Damocles Trio and Modigliani Quartet and has performed and recorded with the members of the Emerson, Brentano, and Arditti Quartets. Her orchestral credits include performances with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, American Sinfonietta, Manhattan Virtuosi, and Aspen Music Festival. An enthusiastic performer of new music, she was one of the original members of the New Juilliard Ensemble and had performed annually in Juilliard’s FOCUS! Festival and is currently a member of Continuum, ModernWorks!, RUCKUS, Son Sonora, and Azure Ensemble. She has premiered dozens of works and her latest recording project of works for violin and electronics includes commissions from such prominent women composers as Tania León, Linda Dusman, Alice Shields, and Milica Paranosic. Currently, she is Assistant Professor of Violin at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.