Pianist Brian Ganz, Cellist Carter Brey, violinist Laura Colgate in Chopin Chamber Music Concert at Strathmore

The performance is at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023.

By: Feb. 15, 2023
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Pianist Brian Ganz, Cellist Carter Brey, violinist Laura Colgate in Chopin Chamber Music Concert at Strathmore

Internationally acclaimed pianist Brian Ganz celebrates his 12th annual concert in his quest to perform the complete works of Frédéric Chopin with "An Evening of Chopin's Chamber Music with Brian Ganz and Friends" at The Music Center at Strathmore at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023.

Ganz will be joined by Carter Brey, the principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic, and Laura Colgate, the Concertmaster of The National Philharmonic. The artists will perform all the major chamber music works written by Chopin, including the rarely heard Trio in G minor for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 8, as well as the famed Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, which Ganz calls "truly great Chopin...a masterpiece."

Ganz began his "Extreme Chopin" quest in January 2011 with a sold-out recital in partnership with The National Philharmonic at The Music Center at Strathmore. He has since maintained a brimming concert schedule, representing his unique niche as perhaps the only pianist to perform Chopin's entire oeuvre. The Washington Post has written, "There isn't much about Chopin that Brian Ganz doesn't know. His delight and wonder in this music seems to grow, apparently without bounds, as time goes on." Ticket prices are $29-$99 and free for young people 7-17. There is a 20% discount for military and veterans. Strathmore is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit nationalphilharmonic.org or call 301.581.5100.

Ganz was recently interviewed on his thoughts on the musical distinctions between performing solo, with an orchestra or as part of a chamber group. On chamber performance with no conductor he said, "It's like an intimate and personal musical conversation between the players, who all speak fluently this rare and eloquent language of emotion... with the audience eavesdropping."

Ganz and his colleagues will perform a total of four chamber music works-two before intermission, and two afterward. He and Brey will first perform Introduction and Polonaise brillante in C major for Cello and Piano, Op. 3 (1829-30). Violinist Colgate will then join them in the Trio in G minor for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 8 (1828-29). After intermission, Ganz and Brey will perform the Grand Duo Concertant for Cello and Piano on themes from Meyerbeer's Robert le diable, B.70 (1831), and will end with the famous Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op. 65 (1845-46).

Ganz continued, "For me performing solo music is telling a vivid story, one which involves me alone in conversation with the audience. Playing with an orchestra is a different kind of story telling---a big public conversation, of grand statements before a large audience and dialogue back and forth between musicians and listeners.

Cellist Carter Gray and I have hit it off musically and otherwise. We are both from Italian families and speak Italian. In fact, at our first meal together in a Japanese restaurant, we both ordered spaghetti."

"Chopin is so intimately associated with solo piano music that we often forget that he wrote first-rate chamber music as well," said Ganz. He explains that the Sonata, for example, is "very difficult to play for both artists. In fact, it's almost awkwardly written for the piano. Chopin is reaching for something new in his pianistic imagination, even so late in his creative life. For example, lots of fast chord passages, which we just don't see much in Chopin. Amazing that he was still growing at that point!" In fact, the Sonata was the last composition Chopin published before his death in 1849.

Unlike the mature Sonata, the Trio was composed when Chopin was in his late teens. To this day, it is rarely played. "I did not know it well as a listener until I started working on it," said Ganz. "I expected to find it of inconsistent quality. Instead, it swept me off my feet! I am in love with this piece. I find it hauntingly, intriguingly, beguilingly beautiful. It has renewed my awe for Chopin's genius."

Carter Brey was appointed Principal Cello of the New York Philharmonic in 1996. He has since appeared as soloist with the orchestra almost every season. Brey has also appeared as soloist with most major orchestras in the United States, and performed under the batons of prominent conductors including Claudio Abbado, Semyon Bychkov, Sergiu Comissiona, and Christoph von Dohnányi. He is a member of the New York Philharmonic String Quartet and has made regular appearances with the Tokyo and Emerson string quartets, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and has performed at festivals such as Spoleto (in the United States and Italy) and the Santa Fe and La Jolla Chamber Music festivals. Brey attended the Peabody Institute and Yale University and was a Wardwell Fellow and a Houpt Scholar. His cello is a rare J.B. Guadagnini made in Milan in 1754. He won the Rostropovich International Cello Competition, and was the recipient of the Gregor Piatigorsky Memorial Prize, Avery Fisher Career Grant, Young Concert Artists' Michaels Award, among other honors. Brey was also the first musician to win the Arts Council of America's Performing Arts Prize.

Laura Colgate has performed worldwide across Europe, Asia, and North America, and has performed on stages including the Barbican Centre, Kennedy Center, and multiple appearances at Carnegie Hall. She is Concertmaster of The National Philharmonic and was formerly concertmaster of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina and the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. She frequently performs as a substitute with several major orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra. Festival appearances include Schleswig­Holstein Music Festival Orchestra (Germany), Verbier Festival Orchestra (Switzlerand), Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme (Aldeburgh, UK), and the McGill International String Quartet Academy (Montreal). She has performed under world-renowned conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Kent Nagano, Semyon Bychkov, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, and Herbert Blomstedt. Colgate received her doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Music. In March 2018 she co-founded the Boulanger Initiative, an advocacy organization for women composers based in D.C.

Ganz is well on his way with his "Extreme Chopin" quest to be perhaps the first known to perform all of Chopin's 250 works, and he has been captivating concert audiences of 2,000-plus since he began in 2011. Of the lesser-known works, Ganz says, "There's something beautiful in everything Chopin wrote. In my journey through Chopin's complete works, I will play every single note he composed, and this includes all the works he composed along the way to artistic maturity."

Ganz sometimes brings his entire collection of Chopin's music to a performance so that he can accept requests from the audience. "It has been a lifelong goal to study every single note Chopin composed," Ganz said. In an exuberant review of an all-Chopin recital Ganz played at the Polish Embassy, The Washington Post wrote, "One comes away from a recital by pianist Brian Ganz not only exhilarated by the power of the performance but also moved by his search for artistic truth."

In 2010, Ganz visited Poland, invited by the renowned conductor Miroslaw Blaszczyk to play with the Filharmonia Slaska and Filharmonia Pomorska. Visiting Chopin's home country affected Ganz profoundly. "Chopin is Poland's national treasure. His face was pictured everywhere, sometimes with no name under it and no caption of any kind. It is almost as if he is the air people breathe. This was profoundly satisfying to me, because he has always been the air I breathe," Ganz said. "I visited the church where his heart lies in Warsaw. I visited the monument where outside concerts take place under a graceful, sweeping statue of him. I took a taxi to his birthplace in Zelazowa Wola. The whole experience was a pilgrimage for me."

Ganz's Chopin inspiration started as young as age 11. In an article about the project, the Baltimore Sun wrote: "(Ganz) found himself alone at home one day listening to Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Opus 23. Something in the piece struck Brian Ganz like a bolt from stormy skies." Ganz recounted that moment, saying, "How can it be so beautiful that it hurts? That was the moment that I like to say Chopin wounded me."

Ganz has shared First Grand Prize in the Marguerite Long Jacques Thibaud International Piano Competition in Paris and won a silver medal with third prize in the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium International Competition. He has performed as a soloist with such orchestras as the St. Louis Symphony, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the City of London Sinfonia and Paris's L'Orchestre Lamoureux and under the direction of conductors such as Leonard Slatkin, Marin Alsop, Yoel Levi, Jerzy Semkow and Mstislav Rostropovich. He is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Leon Fleisher. Earlier teachers include Ylda Novik and Claire Deene.

Gifted as a teacher himself, Ganz is on the piano faculty of St. Mary's College of Maryland, where he is artist-in-residence, and has recently retired after 21 years on the piano faculty of the Peabody Conservatory. He is the artist-editor of the Schirmer Performance Edition of Chopin's Preludes (2005). Pre-pandemic performance highlights include Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 at the Alba Music Festival in Italy and with The National Philharmonic at Strathmore, Mozart's Piano Concerto K. 466 with the Annapolis Symphony, and Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto with the Billings Symphony (now viewable on YouTube), as well as a solo recital for the Distinguished Artists Series of Santa Cruz, California. In September of 2019, he made his debut as an actor and playwright at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art, Freer and Sackler Galleries. The play imagined a dialogue between American artist James Whistler and a musician who explores the connections between Debussy's music and the artist's "10 O'Clock Lecture." Included in the play are portions of the lecture itself along with performances of the music of Debussy and composers under his influence. More recently, Mr. Ganz performed Mozart's Piano Concerto K. 488 with the Virginia Chamber Orchestra at the newly opened Capital One Hall in Northern Virginia. Ganz has also been a member of the jury of the Long Thibaud Competition in Paris.

As the Music Center at Strathmore's orchestra-in-residence, The National Philharmonic showcases world-renowned guest artists in time-honored symphonic masterpieces conducted by Maestro Piotr Gajewski, and monumental choral masterworks under National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson.

To purchase tickets for the performances and for information about the Philharmonic's upcoming season, please visit nationalphilharmonic.org or call the Strathmore Ticket Office at 301.581.5100.




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