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Kaufman Music Center Announces Conrad Tao, Lisa Bielawa, Seth Parker Woods and More

This season, Kaufman Music Center is also introducing Musical Storefronts, a new initiative to bring live, socially-distanced concerts to New York's Upper West Side.

Kaufman Music Center Announces Conrad Tao, Lisa Bielawa, Seth Parker Woods and More

The spirit of innovation is alive in Kaufman Music Center's Winter/Spring online concert season, offering a wide variety of creative programs. Its three Artists-in-Residence for 2020-21 - composer Lisa Bielawa, composer/pianist Conrad Tao, and cellist Seth Parker Woods - feature prominently in the season: Tao and Woods will perform in the Ecstatic Music series (May 6 and May 9 respectively), while Bielawa will unveil her opera-in-progress Centuries in the Hours with help from students from KMC's Special Music School High School (May 27).

Woods will also collaborate with KMC's youth new music ensemble, Face the Music, in a virtual performance inspired by Mauricio Kagel's music theater work Con Voce (March 22). Tao's monthly Performance as Process program, revealing the creative process that will culminate in his May 6 recital, continues through April 22.

Ecstatic Music opens with a special film event from Canada's Bell Orchestre, featuring members of Arcade Fire, in advance of the group's new album House Music, out in March on Erased Tapes (February 18).

Kaufman Music Center's award-winning Luna Composition Lab - founded by Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid to mentor female-identifying, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming composers, ages 12 - 18 - partners with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in a virtual performance of eight world premieres by last season's Luna Lab Fellows, plus participants in Luna Lab with LACO (February 11). LCL's annual showcase, Solar Flare, will highlight new works by the 2020-21 Fellows, performed by young players from Kaufman Music Center (April 27).

Rob Kapilow's popular What Makes It Great? series is dedicated to the Great American Songbook this season (February 16 - April 6). In addition to concerts of songs by Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim with Broadway stars Sally Wilfert, Nikki Renée Daniels, and Michael Winther, What Makes It Great? will now offer a set of five online classes devoted to George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Richard Rodgers, and Leonard Bernstein (February 23 - March 30).

Piano Dialogues is back with Orli Shaham performing Mozart and Schubert (February 22). Tuesday Matinees - the perfect midday break for those working from home - returns with the acclaimed Aizuri Quartet (March 9).

A new series, Fast Forward, gives audiences an early glimpse into the musical future through performances by young musicians from KMC's Special Music School and Lucy Music School, Manhattan's largest community arts school (March 4 - May 19).

This season, Kaufman Music Center is also introducing Musical Storefronts, a new initiative to bring live, socially-distanced concerts to New York's Upper West Side (January - March). Also on the horizon: Week of Musical Action (March 14 - 18), in which top artists and community members perform in support of Kaufman Music Center.

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E C S T A T I C...M U S I C

Now in its tenth season, Ecstatic Music has become a vital fixture in New York's new music scene.

Thursday, February 18 (7 pm ET): Bell Orchestre - A Performance Film

Montreal's Bell Orchestre comes together in the beautiful Canadian countryside to make this unique concert film. Bell Orchestre consists of six musical mavericks, including Arcade Fire members Sarah Neufeld and Richard Reed Parry, who, on their critically-acclaimed first two albums, have shifted the boundaries of instrumental music. The group cites such diverse influences as Talk Talk, Lee 'Scratch' Parry, and Arvo Pärt, which come together to form a contemporary sound, as if Debussy had composed his fragile impressionism with the knowledge of the ecstatic possibility of a pop concert.

i??Thursday, May 6 (7 pm): Ecstatic Music: Conrad Tao

Streamed from Merkin Hall

This season, pianist, composer, Avery Fisher Career Grant winner and 2020-21 Kaufman Music Center Artist-in-Residence Conrad Tao has invited audiences into his creative practice at monthly Performance as Process events live streamed on Facebook as he investigates possible repertoire and musical approaches. The culmination of this shared artistic journey, his Ecstatic Music performance draws on his work in piano, electronics, composition and improvisation to re-work and re-imagine what a piano recital can be.

Tao's Performance as Process presentations will continue on Thursday January 14, February 25, March 25, and April 22. These online events are free.

Sunday, May 9 (7 pm): Ecstatic Music: Seth Parker Woods

Streamed from Merkin Hall

Hailed by The Guardian as "a cellist of power and grace" who possesses "mature artistry and willingness to go to the brink," cellist and 2020-21 Kaufman Music Center Artist-in-Residence Seth Parker Woods has established a reputation as a versatile artist straddling several genres. Woods will perform a program of works for cello, electronics and film by Nathalie Joachim (The Race: 1915), Fredrick Gifford (Difficult Grace), Monty Adkins (Winter Tendrils), Freida Abtan (My Heart Is A River), Ryan Carter (Default Mode Network) and a new reimagining of Pierre Alexandre Tremblay's asinglewordisnotenough 3 [invariant] with choreographer Roderick George.

Tickets for these concerts are $15, available at

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L I S A...B I E L A W A :...C E N T U R I E S...I N...T H E...H O U R S

Thursday, May 27 (7 pm)

Vocalists and instrumentalists from Kaufman Music Center's Special Music School High School give an exclusive work-in-progress performance of Centuries in the Hours: From Home, an opera by composer and 2020-21 KMC Artist-in-Residence Lisa Bielawa. The opera illuminates the lives of American women by setting selections from 72 American women's diaries spanning three centuries, discovered during extensive research by Bielawa as a William Randolph Hearst Visiting Artist Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society in 2018. The diarists include a freed slave who became a missionary in Hawaii (1823), an isolated teen poetic genius in Butte, Montana (1901), a 13-year-old Filipina immigrant going to school for the first time (1921), a New England abolitionist (1860s) and many more. Might the lens of women's diaries provide a "shelter-in-place" viewpoint of our shared history?

Through the opera and its libretto by Claire Solomon, dozens of manuscripts rejoin the flow of public discourse. Centuries in the Hours asks: What if these women could be lifted out of their historical contexts and respective life circumstances to encounter one another?

Performances will be recorded and filmed by participants in their own homes. Rehearsals will take place via Zoom.

Tickets: Suggested Donation, available at

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F A C E...T H E...M U S I C... +...S E T H...P A R K E R...W O O D S

Monday, March 22 (7 pm)

Virtual performance filmed at the artists' homes

2020-21 Kaufman Music Center Artist-in-Residence Seth Parker Woods will work with musicians from Face the Music, Kaufman Music Center's teen new music program, using Mauricio Kagel's musik theatre work Con Voce as a vehicle to create a new collective work using instruments, facial expressivity and voices. Given our social distancing and the toll the global pandemic has taken on all of us, Seth will seize this opportunity to develop a piece that wraps together humor and theatre of the spectacle.

Tickets: Suggested Donation, available at

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L U N A...C O M P O S I T I O N...L A B

Thursday, February 11 (7 pm): Luna Meets Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Virtual performance co-presented by Kaufman Music Center and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

In a new partnership, NYC's Kaufman Music Center (KMC) teams up with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) to present the world premieres of eight works by 2019-20 Fellows in KMC's Luna Composition Lab program, plus participants in Luna Lab with LACO. The program includes music by teen composers Olivia Bennett, KiMani Bridges, Madeline Clara Cheng, Ebunoluwa Oguntola, Anya Lagman, Sage Shurman, Chloe Villamayor and Emily Webster-Zuber. Founded by 2018 Grammy nominee Missy Mazzoli and 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Reid with Kaufman Music Center in 2016, Luna Lab addresses the gender imbalance in the field of classical music by providing aspiring female-identifying, non-binary and gender nonconforming composers age 12-18 with a year of one-on-one mentorship, performance opportunities and high-quality recordings of their work. Filmed in Zipper Hall at The Colburn School in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, April 27 (7 pm): Solar Flare: Luna Composition Lab

Young musicians from Kaufman Music Center premiere works by the 2020-21 Luna Composition Lab Fellows: Vera Gjaja, Alisha Heng, Jordan Millar, Zola Saadi-Klein, Azalea Twining, and Marina Zurita McKinnon. A national mentorship program founded by 2018 Grammy nominee Missy Mazzoli and 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Reid with Kaufman Music Center in 2016, Luna Lab is "changing the playing field by providing mentorship and exposure to teen-age female, non-binary, and gender nonconforming composers" (The New Yorker).

This performance may be streamed from Merkin Hall depending if circumstances related to the COVID-19 situation permit.

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W H A T...M A K E S...I T...G R E A T ?

Dive into the Great American Songbook this winter with What Makes It Great? Host Rob Kapilow, the NPR & PBS music commentator, conductor, composer, author and pianist the New York Times calls "a winning combination of Leonard Bernstein and Bill Nye the Science Guy, an infectiously enthusiastic explainer of the inner mechanical workings of music." The series combines performances filmed in Kaufman Music Center's Merkin Hall exploring the music of Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim with online classes created and taught by Kapilow focused on five giants of the Great American Songbook: George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Richard Rodgers, and Leonard Bernstein. Hosted by Kapilow, the performances feature Broadway stars Nikki Renée Daniels, Sally Wilfert, and Michael Winther.


Celebrating the American Songbook

Classes will be released online at 7 pm on Tuesdays beginning February 23 and will then be available to watch on demand. Each class will conclude with a live online Q&A with Rob Kapilow. Through a close look at several of each composer's most famous songs combined with a wide-angled historical point of view, the course tells the story of America through some of its greatest songs. The course is designed for everyone and anyone, whether you are a musical-theatre devotee, first-time listener, singer, music student, or simply a lover of the music of Broadway's Golden Age. From "You're the Top" to "Something's Coming," you will leave the course listening to America and some of its greatest music with a whole new pair of ears.

Class Dates: Tuesday, February 23 (7 pm) - George Gershwin

Tuesday, March 2 (7 pm) - Irving Berlin

Tuesday, March 9 (7 pm) - Harold Arlen

Tuesday, March 23 (7 pm) - Richard Rodgers

Tuesday, March 30 (7 pm) - Leonard Bernstein


Tuesday, February 16 (7 pm): A Cole Porter Evening

Featuring Sally Wilfert & Michael Winther; streamed from Merkin Hall

The witty and urbane Cole Porter joyfully pushed the envelope of musical theater in the 1920s, 30s and 40s with ultra-sophisticated, often risqué songs banned by the censors and adored by theatergoers. Unlike most of the 20th century's great songwriters, Porter grew up in a world of unbelievable wealth and privilege. Yet beneath his socially perfect public persona was a hidden private life that influenced nearly all of his music and lyrics. Broadway stars Sally Wilfert and Michael Winther join Rob Kapilow for a musical tour through Porter's extraordinary life and career, as they take a fresh look at Porter's complex highbrow/lowbrow sensibility in the classic songs You're the Top, Night and Day, All Through the Night and Begin the Beguine.

Tuesday, April 6 (7 pm): Stephen Sondheim

Featuring Nikki Renée Daniels & Michael Winther; streamed from Merkin Hall

Only a handful of artists in the 20th century redefined their fields as completely as Sondheim redefined musical theater, yet his fundamental temperament is almost directly at odds with the upbeat aesthetic of the Broadway musical itself. "Ambivalence is my favorite thing to write about, because it's the way I feel, and I think the way most people feel." How did Sondheim turn this ambivalence into the most important theater music of the last 50 years? Come explore Sondheim's magical art of ambivalence in music from A Little Night Music, Follies, Sunday in the Park with George and Company.

Tickets (available at

5 Classes + 2 Performances: $70

5 Classes: $50

2 Performances: $25

Single Performance: $15

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P I A N O...D I A L O G U E S

The intimate Piano Dialogues recitals, safely produced and filmed in Merkin Hall with top quality audio and video, feature leading players in programs that spark dialogues between old and new repertoire. Online Q & A sessions follow each concert.

Monday, February 22 (7 pm): Orli Shaham plays Schubert and Mozart

Hailed as a "first rate Mozartean" by the Chicago Tribune, pianist Orli Shaham explores the deep musical connections between her favorite Mozart piano sonatas and other beloved works for the keyboard. In this program, Ms. Shaham performs Schubert's Piano Sonata in A Major, D. 664 and Mozart's Piano Sonata No.15 in F major, K.533/494, demonstrating the later composer's response to Mozart's craft in these two works written 30 years apart. The lyrical textures, use of melodic material and even direct quotes from Mozart's compositions are evident in Schubert's music.

Tickets are $15, available at

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T U E S D A Y...M A T I N E E S

Kaufman Music Center's Tuesday Matinees series presents an exciting lineup of young classical performers. These rising artists have won some of the most prestigious international prizes, scoring successes with audiences in major concert halls around the globe.

Tuesday, March 9 (2 pm ET): Aizuri Quartet plays Alberga, Giddens, and Beethoven

Filmed at Oktaven Audio in Mount Vernon New York

Praised by The Washington Post for "captivating" performances that draw from its notable "meld of intellect, technique and emotions," the Aizuri Quartet was awarded the Grand Prize and the CAG Management Prize at the 2018 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, along with top prizes at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan, and the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition in London. This characteristically diverse programs includes the opening movement of contemporary Jamaican composer Eleanor Alberga's String Quartet No. 1 (1993), Rhiannon Giddens' At the Purchaser's Option, originally written for Kronos Quartet (2016), and Beethoven's late String Quartet No. 12 in E-flat Major, Op. 127.

Tickets are $15, available at

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F A S T...F O R W A R D :...M U S I C ' S...N E X T...G E N E R A T I O N

Get to know a whole new generation of performers at this new series of four concerts streamed from Merkin Hall. Young musicians from Kaufman Music Center's Special Music School, a NYC public school that teaches music as a core subject, and Lucy Moses School, Manhattan's largest community arts school, explore a broad range of repertoire, including a program of works by Florence Price, Margaret Bonds and Samuel Coleridge Taylor, and chamber music performed together with 2020-21 Artists-in-Residence Conrad Tao and Seth Parker Woods.

Thursday, March 4 (7 pm): Performers from Special Music School's 7th and 8th Grade

Featuring 7th and 8th grade performers from Kaufman Music Center's Special Music School, the country's only K-12 public school that teaches music as a core subject during the school day.

Thursday, April 1 (7 pm): Henry Schneider Concert

Featuring rising star performers from Kaufman Music Center's Lucy Moses School, which offers music, dance, and theater classes and instrument lessons to students of all ages and backgrounds.

Thursday, April 29 (7 pm): ComposerFest

Students from Kaufman Music Center's Special Music School and Lucy Moses school perform a program of music by Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, Samuel Coleridge Taylor, and Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George.

Wednesday, May 19 (7 pm): ChamberFest

Chamber groups from Special Music School and Lucy Moses School perform with 2020-21 Artists-in-Residence Seth Parker Woods and Conrad Tao.

Tickets: Suggested Donation

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M U S I C A L...S T O R E F R O N T S

January - March, schedule TBA

This winter, Kaufman Music Center brings live music back to NYC's Upper West Side with Musical Storefronts, a new pop-up concert series featuring more than 100 of our city's finest performers, including chamber musicians, Broadways stars, soloists and artists you'll know from the Merkin Hall stage. Presented in partnership with the Alphadyne Foundation, Musical Storefronts provides work to artists severely impacted by the cancellation of live performances, in a format that takes into account all necessary health and safety measures for both artists and audiences. Stay tuned for the details! To limit crowd size and ensure social distancing, artists and programs will be announced at the location on the day of performances.

W E E K...O F...M U S I C A L...A C T I O N

March 14-18, schedule TBA

Streamed on KMC's Facebook and YouTube (FREE)

Building on the success of Kaufman Music Center's Day of Musical Action last June, the Week of Musical Action is a five-day celebration and virtual music marathon featuring performances by members of the KMC community, including students, parents, faculty, staff and supporters. The event will provide much-needed funding to keep Kaufman Music Center's education programs and performance presentations going as the pandemic continues. Stay tuned for further details, including celebrity performance announcements.

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