Clarinetist Charles Neidich to Return to the WA Concert Series at Tenri Cultural Institute

Joining Neidich are clarinetist Ayako Oshima, bass clarinetist Michael Lowenstern, and pianist Mohamed Shams.

By: Feb. 21, 2024
Clarinetist Charles Neidich to Return to the WA Concert Series at Tenri Cultural Institute
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

In a long-awaited return, the renowned clarinetist Charles Neidich will bring the first concert of the WA Series' new season to the Tenri Cultural Institute on Friday evening, 8 p.m., March 1, 2024. Mr. Neidich will be joined by his partner, clarinetist Ayako Oshima, bass clarinetist Michael Lowenstern, and pianist Mohamed Shams, who present works by Nadia Boulanger, Yayoi Kitazume, Edison Denisov, Ernest Chausson, as well as compositions by Mr. Lowenstern, and Mr. Neidich. Entitled "The World of the Expanded Clarinet," the full program follows:

Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) Trois Pièces 1911 (organ), 1914 (cello, piano)

(transcribed for clarinet, Charles Neidich) Moderato

Sans Vitesse et à l'aise

Vite et nerveusement rythmé

Yayoi Kitazume (b. 1945) "揺れ動くバランス"(2017)

(Teetering Balance)

Edison Denisov (1929-1996) Sonata for solo clarinet (1972)

Lento, poco rubato

Tempo giusto

Charles Neidich (b. 1953) Why? (2020) {in person world premiere}

Ernest Chausson (1855-1899) Andante et Allegro (1881)


Michael Lowenstern (b. 1968) Surprise

César Franck (1822-1890) Sonata for violin and piano in A Major (1886)

(transcribed for clarinet, Charles Neidich) Allegretto ben moderato


Recitativo-Fantasia: Ben moderato

Allegretto poco mosso

The concert is presented under the auspices of Artena Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit organization. Admission at $30-with $10 senior and student tickets available-includes food and drink and will be available for purchase at the door and at the Event Page.

Named after the Japanese word "wa"-meaning circle, but also harmony and completeness-each concert offers wine and snacks. These programs, conceived by Mr. Neidich and his wife and fellow clarinetist Ayako Oshima, are intended to bring lesser-known composers, and works to the attention of the international music community, synthesizing Mr. Neidich's lifetime of musical knowledge, exploration, and thoughtful reflection. The Wa Concert Series has attracted a diverse crowd of music lovers, students, and musicians of all ages. The main draw continues to be the richly variegated programming and superb soloists.

Clarinetist and conductor, Charles Neidich has gained worldwide recognition as one of the most mesmerizing virtuosos performing today. With a tone of hypnotic beauty and a dazzling technique, Mr. Neidich has received unanimous accolades from critics and fellow musicians both in the United States and abroad; but it is his musical intelligence in scores as diverse as Mozart and Elliott Carter that has earned Mr. Neidich a unique place among clarinetists. In the words of The New Yorker, "He's an artist of uncommon merit - a master of his instrument and, beyond that, an interpreter who keeps listeners hanging on each phrase."

An ardent exponent of new music and a composer himself, he has expanded the technical and expressive possibilities of the clarinet and has championed the works of many of the world's most important composers. He is a leading performer on period instruments and has restored and reconstructed original versions of works composers from Mozart to Copland.

In wide demand as a soloist, Mr. Neidich has collaborated with some of the world's leading orchestras and ensembles, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, the MDR, the Berlin Radio Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, San Diego Symphony, New City Chamber Orchestra of San Francisco, Yomiuri Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, Tafelmusik, the Handel/Haydn Society, the Norwegian Baroque Orchestra, the Juilliard, Guarneri, American, Mendelssohn, Telegraph, and Parker String Quartets and the Peabody Trio. He has made his mark not only as an instrumentalist, but also as an innovative programmer and student of period instrument performance practice. An avid chamber musician, Mr. Neidich is a member of the renowned New York Woodwind Quintet and is a member emeritus of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

Mr. Neidich commands a repertoire of over 300 solo works, including pieces written, commissioned, or inspired by him, as well as his own transcriptions of vocal and instrumental works. A noted exponent of 20th-century music, he has premiered works by Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Edison Denisov, William Schuman, Ralph Shapey, Joan Tower, and other leading contemporary composers. With a growing discography to his credit, Mr. Neidich can be heard on the Chandos, Sony Classical, Sony Vivarte, Deutsche Grammophon, Musicmasters, Pantheon, Bridge, and Bremen Music Hall labels. His recorded repertoire ranges from familiar works by Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, and Brahms, to lesser-known compositions by Danzi, Reicha, Rossini, and Hummel, as well as music by Elliott Carter, Gyorgy Kurtag, Ursula Mamlok, Ralph Shapey, Helmut Lachenmann, and other contemporary masters.

Mr. Neidich received a rave review from Heuwell Tircuit in Fanfare for his Sony recording of Robert Schumann's Sonatas Op. 105 and 121 and the Three Romances, Op. 94.

Mr. Neidich's re-recording on historical instruments of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto for Bremen Radiohall Records, 26 years after his celebrated recording with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon, was reviewed by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim in the New York Times:

Mr. Neidich has performed and taught at numerous summer festivals including the Sarasota Summer Music Festival, the Marlboro Music Festival, the Orford and Domaine Forget Festivals in Canada, the International Stichting Masterclass Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, the Kryzowa Music Festival in Poland, the Qingdao Clarinet Festival, and the Masterclasses of the Liszt Conservatory in Weimar, Germany.

A native New Yorker of Belarussian and Greek descent, Charles Neidich had his first clarinet lessons with his father, and his first piano lessons with his mother. While in high school, he added viola to his studies, studying with Rena Robbins, the wife of the great cellist Harvey Shapiro. Mr. Neidich's early musical idols were Fritz Kreisler, Artur Schnabel, Maria Callas, and other violinists, pianists, and vocalists rather than clarinetists.

The clarinet, however, won out over time, and he pursued studies with the famed pedagogue Leon Russianoff. Although Mr. Neidich became quite active in music at an early age, he opted against attending a music conservatory in favor of academic studies at Yale University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in Anthropology. While at Yale, he received the Selden Prize for musicianship and scholarship. In 1975 he became the first American to receive a Fulbright grant for study in the former Soviet Union. He attended postgraduate studies at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory for three years where his teachers were clarinetist, Boris Dikov and pianist, Kirill Vinogradov.

In 1985 Mr. Neidich became the first clarinetist to win the Walter W. Naumburg Competition, which brought him to prominence as a soloist. His European honors include top prizes at the Munich ARD International Competition, the Geneva, and the Accanthes International Competitions.

As a conductor, Mr. Neidich is known for dynamically expressive performances ranging from historically informed repertoire to contemporary works. He has appeared as guest conductor with orchestras throughout the US, Europe, and in Asia most recently in acclaimed Beethoven programs with the Hyogo PAC Orchestra and Mozart programs with the Tokyo Philharmonic in Japan. He has also been featured in programs in the triple role of Conductor, Soloist, and Composer with the Tapiola Sinfonietta and the San Diego Symphony.

Mr. Neidich has achieved great recognition as a teacher in addition to his activities as a performer and is currently a member of the artist faculties of the Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, the Mannes College of Music, and Tianjin Juilliard. In 2004, he was awarded the William Schuman Award for performance and scholarship at the Juilliard School. In 2018 he was awarded a lifetime membership in honor of his artistic achievements by the International Clarinet Society as well as a Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the National Society of Arts and Letters.

Already in its 12th season, together with his wife, Ayako Oshima, he founded the Kitakaruizawa Music Seminar and in 2016, the acclaimed WA Concert Series in New York. Most recently they established the non-profit Artena (Art, Technology, Nature) Foundation to promote worldwide innovation and cooperation through the Arts.

Summing up his experience with the WA Concert series, Frank Daykin of New York Concert Review advised: "A word to the wise music lover: Run, don't walk, to this series."

Ayako Oshima, winner of numerous international competitions including the 55th JapanMusic Competition in Tokyo, the Winds and Percussion Competition in Japan, and 3rd Prize winner in the 17th International Jeunesses Musicales Competition in Belgrade, where she also received the Golden Harp award given to the favorite of the audience and critics, is one of the most popular clarinet soloists in Japan. She performs on a regular basis both in recital and in concerto appearances with orchestra, highlights of which have included performances in Osaka, Nagoya, Kobe, Tanuma, at the Casals Hall, Kioi Hall, and Bunka Kaikan in Tokyo, and with the Hiroshima, Osaka and, most recently in a gala concert featuring the Bernstein Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs, with the NHK Symphony.

Ms. Oshima is quite active in chamber music festivals. Festivals at which Ms. Oshima has appeared include the Kuhmo Festival in Finland, the Festival Consonances in France, the Sarasota Summer Music Festival, and Chamber Music Silicon Valley.

Ms. Oshima was a founding member of L'Art Respirant, one of the first new music ensembles in Japan and also was a member of the noted ensemble, Contrasts Quartet. She has been involved playing historical instruments since 1991 and as a member of the acclaimed period instrument ensemble, Mozzafiato, she has recorded several CDs for the SONY Vivarte label. Other labels for which she has recorded include Toshiba EMI, Victor Japan, Naxos, and Bridge. She recently released Bel Canto: music for two clarinets for the Aurora label.

In addition to her performing career, she maintains a high profile as a teacher and is a Professor of Clarinet at the Hartt School and is on the faculties of the State University of New York at Purchase and the Juilliard School. She has also served on the juries of the Japan Music Competition, the Japan Winds, the Percussion International Competition, and the Jacques Lancelot International Clarinet Competition. Ms. Oshima has founded and is the Director of the Kita Karuizawa Music Seminar which attracts clarinet students from all over Asia and has become the most important clarinet seminar in Japan. With her husband, Charles Neidich, she has written a book on the fundamentals of clarinet technique for the publisher, Toa Ongaku Inc., and has a 20-year collection of monthly columns on music and the clarinet she has written for Pipers Magazine. In 2011, She founded the all-female Clarinet Ensemble, NY Licorice Ensemble. NY Licorice Ensemble already has released two CDs and has performed throughout Japan and in New York and has been featured on NHK television. Most recently, together with her husband Charles Neidich, Ayako Oshima founded the non-profit Artena (Art, Technology, Nature) Foundation to promote worldwide innovation and cooperation through the Arts.

Ayako Oshima is also a noted chef and co-founded the WA Concert Series in New York in September 2017 with the idea of connecting music and food. Michael Miller, New York Arts, wrote:

"I should not forget to mention that the last interior page of the program was a menu. Ayako Oshima, an outstanding clarinetist and ..., is also a chef of high accomplishments... Both of the Wa Concerts I have mentioned ended with a feast ..., which unleashed a dash of joyous, appreciative conversation about the music we had just heard. "

Michael Lowenstern is widely recognized as one of the most innovative bass clarinetists in the world, and has performed, recorded, and toured as a soloist and with ensembles of every variety. Career highlights include long tenures with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and John Zorn, touring with ensembles as diverse as the Steve Reich Ensemble, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Klezmatics, and a stint with the New Jersey Symphony as its bass clarinetist. To date, he can be heard on over sixty recordings, two of which have won Grammy awards. Michael has also released eight solo albums.

Michael launched in 1997, initially as a website to sell his first CD, "Spasm." Over the past 25 years, Earspasm has expanded into the most comprehensive clarinet and bass clarinet online shop in the world, serving single-reed players across the globe.

Michael is currently in his 13th year creating content for his YouTube channel, to the delight (and consternation) of millions of viewers. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife and partner, Katherine Cooke.

Pianist Mohamed Shams enjoys a varied musical life as a recitalist, soloist, chamber musician, and accompanist. Hailed as a "deeply impressive pianist of tremendous flair and intellectual strength" and a "spectacular pianist" by Herald Scotland's Critic Michael Tumelty, Mr. Shams has been featured by Robert (Bob) Sherman with selective live recordings on New York's top classical radio station WQXR three times through McGraw-Hill Young Artist Showcase presents.

He has performed diverse repertoire in the United States, Europe, and the Far East. As a recitalist, accompanist, chamber musician, and soloist, he has performed in important prestigious concert halls such as Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall, Miller Auditorium and Bruno Walter Auditorium in Lincoln Center, Yamaha Hall in London, Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, Usher Hall in Edinburgh, and Kolarac Hall in Belgrade. He has collaborated with well-known conductors such as Enrique Batiz, Philippe Entremont, Sergio Cardenas, Edward Cumming, Christoph Muller, David Danzmyr, Ahmed El-Saedi, and Nader Abbassi. As a soloist, he has played with The Royal Philharmonic, The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Gottingen Symphoniker, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, the Manhattan School Orchestra, the Hartt School Orchestra, and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Orchestra.

As a recipient of a Fulbright grant in 2006 in research of 20th-century American composers, Mr. Shams performs frequently works by Elliott Carter, John Corigliano, and Florence Price. He is also a champion of works by forgotten or rarely performed late 19th and early 20th century composers such as Medtner, Bortkiewicz, and Bacewicz. His musical studies earned him M.M. from the Manhattan School of Music and B.M. with distinction from Cairo Conservatoire. He earned another master's from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He earned his Doctorate from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford. Mr. Shams is Currently a faculty member at the Purchase College of Music- SUNY (White Plains, NY) and University of Hartford, CT.

Mr. Shams's musical studies earned him M.M., with the Harold Bauer award from the Manhattan School of Music and B.M. with distinction from Cairo Conservatoire. He also earned another M.M from The Royal Scottish Conservatoire where he was awarded the Governor's Prize for outstanding achievements. His primary teachers were Edgar Davilianidzi, Douglas Weeks, Elena Dizamshvilli, Marc Silverman, Aaron Shorr, Steven Osborne, and David Westfall. Currently work as a part-time faculty at Purchase College of Music-SUNY and currently a chamber music coach at RWS entertainment group.