Ensemble Pi Dedicates Its Next Concert To 18th-century Woman Composer Marianna Martines

Ensemble Pi Dedicates Its Next Concert To 18th-century Woman Composer Marianna Martines

For its 2017 fall season, the socially conscious new-music collective, Ensemble Pi, turns its focus on the life and compositional oeuvre of one of the most accomplished, prolific and intriguing composers of the late eighteenth-century Vienna, Marianna Martines (1744-1812). Despite her extraordinary musical talents, widely recognized during her lifetime, Martines' compositions remain little-known today. Conceived as a series of narrated scenes, the concert will bring into the spotlight Martines' chamber music, along with works by her mentors, supporters and friends. The evening will include some staging, and the use of projections upon large Rococo skirts hanging from the ceiling and designed by Florian Etti.

"It's dispiriting that such a talented composer isn't recognized yet as part of the history of the classical period," says Idith Meshulam, founder and director of Ensemble Pi. "Eight years after Irvin Godt's fine and thorough book, A Woman Composer in the Vienna of Mozart and Haydn, there is no significant change in the programing of her music. With this concert, I'd love audiences to discover her work in the context of her time, and hear for themselves that music history hasn't done her justice."

Austrian composer, singer and pianist Marianna Martines spent most of her life in a remarkable building in Vienna, where Italian singing teacher Nicola Porpora, celebrated opera librettist Pietro Metastasio, and for a while the young Joseph Haydn, resided. The lives of these people came to be connected through Martines: Metastasio oversaw her education, and she took lessons from Haydn and studied singing with Porpora, and later on with court composer Giuseppe Bonno. Metastasio encouraged Martines to compose and remained a powerful supporter until his death. A talented soprano and virtuoso keyboard player, she often performed for the pleasure of the Empress Maria Theresa, and was the only woman admitted to the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna (1773). The weekly musical soirees the Martines sisters hosted in their home attracted the presence and participation of some of the classical period's leading musicians, including Mozart who enjoyed playing keyboard duets with Marianna. She is the author of 12 concertos (out of which 4 remain), 32 piano sonatas (out of which 3 remain), and a wide range of vocal and instrumental pieces (out of which 4 Masses, 2 Litanies, 4 Psalms, 2 Oratorios, 3 sacred works with chorus and/or orchestra, 7 motets, 4 Italian Arias, and 7 chamber cantatas remain).

The program will feature Marianna Martines' Sonatas for Piano in A Major (1765), E Major (1763) and G Major (1769), as well as several of her vocal pieces for soprano. It will also include Haydn's A Major Sonata Hob. XVI:12, Mozart's Sonata in Bb Major for Four Hands K 358 (1774), and "S'altro che lagrime" for soprano from his opera, La Clemenza di Tito, as well as Hasse's "Se mai più sarò geloso" for soprano and counter tenor from his opera, Cleofide.

Idith Meshulam, piano and artistic director; Daniel Gortler, piano; Sarah Moulton Faux, soprano and narrator; Gon Halevi, Counter tenor; Matt Gray, director and narrator; Deborah Moulton, writer

Venue/Ticketing info:
Marianna Martines: A Room of Her Own will take place on Friday, December 8, 2017 (7:30 PM) at the Sheen Center, located at 18 Bleecker Street. Tickets are $20 general admission / $15 for seniors and students. For more information, visit www.sheencenter.org, or call (212) 219-3132. This concert is the first of a series dedicated to composer Marianna Martines' work.

About the performers:

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 more than thirteen years, Ensemble Pi presented an annual Peace Project concert, commissioning new works and collaborating with visual artists, writers, actors and journalists such as William Kentridge, Naomi Wolf and David Riker. The ensemble was in residence for four American music festivals presented by the American Composers Alliance and now collaborates with the APNM. Symphony Space presented Ensemble Pi in birthday celebrations for composers Gunther Schuller and Krzysztof Penderecki. A multi-year collaboration with composer Elias Tanenbaum resulted in a CD of his chamber music, Keep Going, released by Parma Recordings in 2010 and reviewed by Gramophone as "a touching tribute to Elias Tanenbaum that is played with conviction and verve." It was followed by a second CD of the music Laura Kaminsky, "played with warmth and variety" (American Record Guide). Ensemble Pi is currently working on the third CD. www.ensemble-pi.org

Acclaimed Israeli pianist Daniel Gortler has performed as a soloist with orchestras around the world, including Berlin Radio Symphony, NDR Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Bavarian Radio Symphony, North-West German Philharmonic, Bochum Symphony, as well as the Houston, San Francisco, New World, Atlanta and San Jose Symphony Orchestras. In addition, he has performed with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and toured in South Africa, Brazil, South Korea and Turkey. In the USA, Gortler performed recitals at Lincoln Center, the Jewish Museum, 92nd Street Y, and Symphony Space in New York City, and the Museum of Art in Cleveland. He has collaborated with esteemed conductors including Zubin Mehta, Christoph Eschenbach, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Valery Gergiev, among many others. In addition to his frequent orchestral and recital performances, he is an avid chamber music performer and regularly appears with Bo Skovhus, Nikolaj Znaider, David Garrett, and others. He recorded the complete cycle of Mendelssohn's "Songs without words" (JMC, released on Romeo Records in the US and Europe), an album with violinist Nikolaj Znaider (BMG Classics), Schubert Lieders with soprano Sharon Rostorf-Zamir (Romeo Records), and more recently, Schumann piano solo works (a double CD album on Romeo Records). Daniel Gortler won First Prize in Chile's Vina del Mar International Competition and the Bremen International Piano Competition. He was placed second in the Munich International Piano Competition and at the age of 19, reached second place at the Geneva International Piano Competition. He also won the Gina Bachauer Award in Jerusalem and the Salon of Virtuoso Annual Award in New York, as well as the AICF awards. www.danielgortler.com

For over a dozen years, Matt Gray has overseen development and production of dozens of concerts, workshops, and premieres as the Producing Director and Resident Dramaturg and Stage Director of American Opera Projects, a Brooklyn-based producer of contemporary opera. At AOP, he has directed the European premiere of As One in Berlin, and numerous operas across NYC and the US, including the historical medical drama Semmelweis at New York Academy of Medicine, for which he is also the librettist. Outside of AOP, he directed Mateo Moreno's play Bohemian Valentine at the 2014 New York Fringe Festival and was the co-creator of the 12-part serialized play Penny Dreadful which ran two years at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Upcoming: As One, directing (Chautauqua Opera, 2018).

Gon Halevi is a 24 year old countertenor singer, recently graduated from Mannes College of Music in New York. He made his New York opera debut in May 2015 in the opera "Flight" by Jonathan Dove, singing the main role of the Refugee. Mr. Halevi graduated from the Thelma Yellin High School for the Arts as a theatre major, and attended the IVAI summer opera program in Tel Aviv twice. Gon is the recipient of several prestigous scholarships, such as the Ronen Foundation, Tzfunot Tarbut Organization, the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, the Buchman foundation, and the IVAI organization.

Idith Meshulam began performing at age nine with chamber orchestras, followed by solo recitals and broadcast concerts throughout Israel. After receiving her bachelor's degree from Rubin Academy in Tel Aviv, she focused on playing the works of contemporary composers. She received her doctorate from New York University, where she taught for ten years, researching the unpublished piano music of Stefan Wolpe and Nikos Skalkottas. Meshulam collaborated with the composer/conductor Gunther Schuller, with whom she recorded Skalkottas' 32 Piano Pieces for GM Recording. American Record Guide's review described her "playing with energetic moxie and aplomb, her technique truly phenomenal yet, her subtle coloring of the introspective passages is no less awe-inspiring." Meshulam has been a longtime supporter of the work of South African artist William Kentridge and composer Philip Miller. Their collaboration led to several multimedia chamber concerts, commissions, and solo recitals at Milan Museum and at Zankel in NY. Recently she collaborated with the visual artist Louise Fishman, and performed at Chaim and Read Gallery and at the Neuberger Museum of Art. Meshulam is the founder and director of Ensemble ?, served as the curator of the American Composers Alliance festivals, and is on the board of Association For the Promotion of New Music. Currently she is teaching at Bard College at the BPI program.

Sarah Moulton Faux made her operatic debut at the age of twelve as Amahl in Amahl and the Night Visitors with Opera of the Hamptons and her professional debut in New York City Opera's acclaimed production of Candide. Recent operatic roles include Violetta (La Traviata), Gilda (Rigoletto), Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro), Rosina (IL Barbiere di Siviglia), Musetta (La Boheme), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Valencienne (The Merry Widow), and Adina (L'Elisir d'Amore). Awarded Best Female Voice at the 2016 International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in Harrogate, England, Moulton Faux was also a Semi-Finalist for the Marcello Giordani International Voice Competition and the Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Solo Competition. She holds a B.A. in Asian & Middle Eastern Studies from Barnard College and a M.M. in Voice Performance & Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College. Upcoming projects include the second installment of her "Secret Love Lives of the Great Composers" lecture recital series and a debut album of the music of southern composer, Lola Williams (1913-2013) produced by American Opera Projects. www.sarahmoultonfaux.com

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