Kaufman Music Center Launches New Concert Series 'Only At Merkin With Terrance Mcknight'

In early 2019, Kaufman Music Center will launch a new classical concert series at Merkin Hall, "Only at Merkin with Terrance McKnight." Hosted by WQXR's Terrance McKnight and showcasing some of the classical world's most acclaimed and celebrated artists, these evenings of insightful conversation and virtuosic performances will enlighten and inspire, deepening the audience's understanding and appreciation of the music, the composers, and the artists' creative process.

The deeply knowledgeable and charismatic Mr. McKnight has guided New Yorkers through the world of great classical music since he joined the staff of New York Public Radio in 2008. At these live, one-night-only performances, he and the featured artists - piano legends Ursula Oppens and André Watts, harpist Bridget Kibbey and the Cassatt String Quartet - will offer audiences a uniquely rewarding concert experience. In addition to stunning performances, conversations with the artists will offer insights into their lives, careers, personalities and passions.

"Music has always been my way of bringing people together," says Mr. McKnight. "And after a decade of sharing it with New Yorkers on the radio, I am excited to bring this same exploration of community and culture to Merkin Hall for this unique series. Merkin is perfect for the kind of intimacy that you're going to get not only from the music, but also from the conversation."

"Only at Merkin with Terrance McKnight" is co-curated by Merkin Hall Director Amy Roberts Frawley. She says, "With Terrance McKnight as our spokesperson, the highest quality music-making and an incredible line-up of artists and composers, this series will continue the Merkin trademark of audience illumination through conversation and performance as exemplified by our other series including Broadway Close Up and What Makes It Great?"


Sat, Feb 2 at 7:30 pm
Ursula Oppens 75th Birthday Tribute with the Cassatt String Quartet

Renowned pianist and five-time Grammy nominee Ursula Oppens, "the Madonna of Contemporary Music" (Time), performs solo piano works written for her by Elliott Carter and John Corigliano. The program also includes Ravel's masterful, revolutionary String Quartet - his first and only string quartet - performed by the Cassatt String Quartet, "one of the great ensembles of our age" (ConcertoNet). Ms. Oppens and the Quartet will give the world premiere of a piano quintet by Laura Kaminsky, commissioned by the pianist for the occasion with production support from the Newburgh Institute for The Arts & Ideas. Cited in The Washington Post as "one of the top 35 female composers in classical music," Laura Kaminsky's music is "full of fire as well as ice, in an idiom that contrasts dissonance and violence with tonal beauty and meditative reflection...It is strong stuff" (American Record Guide).

Sat, Mar 2 at 7:30 pm
Bridget Kibbey, Harp with Beth Wenstrom, Recorder & Priscilla Herreid, Recorder

Celebrated as the "Yo-Yo Ma of the harp," Bridget Kibbey crafts performance projects that showcase the vast cross-genre capabilities of the harp alongside today's top artists - whether it be navigating the keyboard works of J.S. Bach, to the opulent repertoire of the Belle Époque, to exploring folk idioms and narratives that influence today's composer luminaries. The program includes Renaissance and Baroque works arranged for harp as the central figure, including Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D minor. "Say again? This mighty organ piece played on a harp?" writes Anthony Tommasini in the New York Times. "It was remarkable....the gossamer colorings and improvisatory fervor of Ms. Kibbey's account hooked me."

Sat, Apr 6 at 7:30 pm
André Watts, Piano

One of America's most distinguished and celebrated artists will perform Chopin's Nocturne, Op. 27, No. 1, Liszt's "Sospiro" and other works intermingled with wide-ranging conversations on topics including his early life and the triumphs of his brilliant career. A living legend of the piano, Mr. Watts began his professional life playing with the Philadelphia Orchestra at age 10 and made his astonishing New York Philharmonic debut at 16, when Leonard Bernstein asked him to step in for an ailing Glenn Gould. His lengthy discography features recordings on multiple top labels including Angel/EMI, Telarc, Philips and Sony Classical. Among his many awards are the Avery Fisher Prize (1988) and induction into the Hollywood Bowl of Fame (2006) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his Philadelphia Orchestra debut. Watts has played before royalty in Europe and heads of government in nations all over the world.

Terrance McKnight's musical experiences - from glee club soloist and accomplished pianist, to professor at Morehouse College, and finally as producer and host of several music programs for public radio - have consistently juxtaposed the European classical tradition alongside American classic traditions, including jazz, gospel, African American spirituals and other musical genres. Mr. McKnight was first heard in New York in 2008 when he joined the staff of WNYC. He moved to WQXR in 2009 and earned an ASCAP Deems Taylor Radio Broadcast Award in 2010. Previously, he worked at Georgia Public Broadcasting, where he was creator, producer and host of Studio GPB, a program that introduced a wide array of musical artists through interviews, live studios sessions and commercial recordings. Other activities appearances as a panelist or speaker with Chamber Music America, the Mellon Foundation, American Opera Projects and the Metropolitan Museum of Art's concert and lecture series, among other outlets.

Ticket Information
Tickets at 212 501 3330 or

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