Pianist Ursula Oppens Plays Music Mountain Today
The distinguished American pianist Ursula Oppens will perform Fauré's Piano Quintet No. 1 in D Minor with the Cassatt Quartet at Music Mountain this afternoon, August 25th, at 3:00 p.m. at Gordon Hall, 225 Music Mountain Rd., Falls Village, CT. The program will also include works by Shostakovich and Beethoven.
The complete program follows:
Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor, Opus 110 (1960)
Beethoven: String Quartet in E Flat Major, Opus 74, Harp (1809)
Fauré: Piano Quintet No. 1 in D Minor, Opus 89 (1906)
Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by visiting musicmountain.org, calling 860-824-7126 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ursula Oppens has long been recognized as the leading champion of contemporary American piano music. In addition her original and perceptive readings of other music, old and new, have earned her a place among the elect of today's performing musicians.
This past season, Oppens appeared at Carnegie Hall and performed in a duo recital with Jerome Lowenthal at New York City's Bargemusic. Oppens performed the New York premiere of Rzewski's Piano Four Hands at Symphony Space's Music Marathon, and a CD featuring Rands' music will be released this coming season.
Most recently Ms. Oppens captured a Grammy Award nomination-her fourth to date-in the coveted category of "Best Classical Instrumental Solo" for the highly praised album Winging It: Piano Music of John Corigliano, released in April 2011 on Cedille Records. The disc features the world premiere recording of John Corigliano's work of the same name, which had its debut performance by Ms. Oppens at New York's Symphony Space in May 2009. Other works on the album, all by Mr. Corigliano,include Chiaroscuro for two pianos (1997), Fantasia on an Ostinato (1985), Kaleidoscope for two pianos (1959), and Etude Fantasy (1976). Ms. Oppens is joined on the recording by veteran pianist Jerome Lowenthal for Kaleidoscope. Journalist Tom Huizenga from The Washington Post praised Ms. Oppens's interpretation: "Her rigorous, unforced performances again prove that few pianists of any era can claim a hold on contemporary piano music as she does" (August 2011).
Earlier Grammy nominations were for Oppens Plays Carter; a recording of the complete piano works of Elliott Carter for Cedille Records (which also was named a "Best of the Year" selection by The New York Times long-time music critic Allan Kozinn); her Piano Music of Our Time featuring compositions by John Adams, Elliott Carter, Julius Hemphill, and Conlon Nancarrow for the Music and Arts label, and her legendary cult classic The People United Will Never Be Defeated by Frederic Rzewski on Vanguard. Ms. Oppens recently added to her extensive discography by releasing a two-piano CD for Cedille Records devoted to Visions de l'Amen of Oliver Messiaen and Debussy's En blanc et noir performed with pianist Jerome Lowenthal.
The 2011-2012 season found Ms. Oppens appearing in recital at the House of Composers in St Petersburg, Russia with a program of music by John Corigliano, Elliott Carter and Frederic Rzewski. She was also heard as soloist with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic conducted by Jeffery Meyer where she performed the world premiere of Laura Kaminsky's Piano Concerto, as well as Leonid Rezetdinov's Feuerwerk-Hana-Bi for piano and orchestra. During the 13th Festival Slowind 2011 at the Slovenska Filharmonija of Ljubljana (Slovenia) Ms. Oppens played works by Elliott Carter and Witold Lutoslawski. In February 2012, she performed Amy Williams's "Three Pieces for Piano," as part of the 8-hour Music of Now Marathon at Symphony Space. Other engagements included Mills College in Oakland (CA), and Pittsburgh (PA). In July 2012 Ms. Oppens also returned to the Music Mountain Festival in Falls Village (CT).
Over the years, Ms. Oppens has premiered works by such leading composers as Luciano Berio, William Bolcom, John Harbison, Julius Hemphill, Tania Leon, György Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Harold Meltzer, Conlon Nancarrow, Tobias Picker, Frederic Rzewski, Joan Tower, Amy Williams, Christian Wolff, Amnon Wolman, and Charles Wuorinen. As orchestral guest soloist Mr. Oppens has performed with virtually all of the world's major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, and the orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Milwaukee. Abroad, she has appeared with such ensembles as the Berlin Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Deutsche Symphonie, the Scottish BBC, and the London Philharmonic Orchestras. Ms. Oppens is also an avid chamber musician and has performed with the Arditti, Juilliard, Pacifica, and Rosetti quartets, among other chamber ensembles.
In October 2010, Ms. Oppens performed the New York premiere of Alvin Singleton's Blueskoncert with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall.Steve Smith, reviewing for The New York Times, wrote:
Alvin Singleton's "BluesKonzert," from 1995, pays ruminative tribute to Julius Hemphill, an accomplished jazz saxophonist and innovative composer who died that year. The pianist Ursula Oppens, a founding member of the American Composers Orchestra...brought her customary intensity and precision to fidgeting tremolos and obsessively wheeling birdcall figurations, with handsome support from the ensemble. Bluesy in the abstract only,it was an unconventional ending.
One of the most riveting experiences of Ms. Oppens's entire career came in Lisbon on April 25, 2011, the 37th anniversary of Portugal's Carnation Revolution which saw the overthrow of the authoritarian Estado Novo regime, when she caused a furor of approval by playing the Portugese national anthem as part of her performance of Frederic Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated.
Ursula Oppens is a Distinguished Professor of Music at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York in New York City, a position she took up in 2008 after serving as John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL since 1994. Ms. Oppens lives in New York City.
Acclaimed as one of America's outstanding ensembles, the Manhattan based Cassatt String Quartet has performed throughout North America, Europe, and the Far East, with appearances at New York's Alice Tully Hall and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Tanglewood Music Theater, the Kennedy Center and Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the Theatre des Champs-Élysées in Paris and Maeda Hall in Tokyo. The Quartet has been presented on major radio stations such as National Public Radio's Performance Today, Boston's WGBH, New York's WQXR and WNYC, and on Canada's CBC Radio and Radio France.
Formed in 1985 with the encouragement of the Juilliard Quartet, the Cassatt initiated and served as the inaugural participants in Juilliard's Young Artists Quartet Program. Their numerous awards include a Tanglewood Chamber Music Fellowship, the Wardwell Chamber Music Fellowship at Yale (where they served as teaching assistants to the Tokyo Quartet), First Prizes at the Fischoff and Coleman Chamber Music Competitions, two top prizes at the Banff International String Quartet Competition, two CMA/ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, a recording grant from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, and commissioning grants from Meet the Composer and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2004, they were selected for the centennial celebration of the Coleman Chamber Music Association in Pasadena, California.
Equally adept at classical masterpieces and contemporary music, the Cassatt has collaborated with a remarkable array of artists/composers including pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin, soprano Susan Narucki, flutist Ransom Wilson, jazz pianist Fred Hersch, didgeridoo player Simon 7, the Trisha Brown Dance Company, distinguished members of the Cleveland and Vermeer Quartets, and composers Louis Andriessen and John Harbison.
With a deep commitment to nurturing young musicians, the Cassatt, in residencies at Princeton, Yale, Syracuse University, the University at Buffalo and the University of Pennsylvania, has devoted itself to coaching, conducting sectionals and reading student composers' works, while offering lively musical presentations in music theory, history and composition. Selected by Chamber Music America, they served as guest artists for their New Music Institute; a series to help presenters market new music to their audiences.
Named three times by The New Yorker magazine's Best Of...CD Selection, the Cassatt's discography includes eclectic new quartets by Pulitizer Prize-winner Steven Stucky and Tina Davidson (Albany Records), by Daniel S. Godfrey (Koch International Classics) and by Grawemeyer and Rome Prize-winner Sebastian Currier (New World) as critiqued in The New York Times (Quartetset) was written for the Cassatt... which plays it strongly here."
The Cassatt has recorded for the Koch, Naxos, New World, Point, CRI, Tzadik and Albany labels and is named for the celebrated American impressionist painter Mary Cassatt.
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