Angela & Jennifer Chun, Frederic Chiu Present BALLAD AND DANCE, 6/1
Violinist Angela and Jennifer Chun, whose harmonia mundi recording Bartók 44 Violin Duos was one of the label's best-selling discs of 2010, and pianist Frederic Chiu, whose extensive work with the music of Prokofiev - also recorded on harmonia mundi - has earned him some of the highest praise of his lauded career, join for a unique program of music for two violins, piano, and two violins and piano at New York's Tenri Cultural Institute on Wednesday, June 1, 2011, at 8:30 PM.
"Ballad and Dance" is a program of 20th-century Eastern European music and recent works by Asian composers. Angela and Jennifer Chun will perform selections from Bartók's 44 Violin Duos (c. 1931); Ligeti's Ballad and Dance (1950); and the Sonatina for Two Violins (1983) by Isang Yun. Frederic Chiu will perform Prokofiev's Fugitive Visions (1915-1917) and Gao Ping's Two Russian Love Songs for Vocalizing Pianist (2003). And the three musicians together will perform Shostakovich's Three Duets for Two Violins and Piano (1955); and Martinu's Sonata for Two Violins and Piano (1932).
"For Bartók 44 Violin Duos, we spent a great deal of time playing, absorbing, and falling in love with this music by the great Hungarian master," said Angela & Jennifer Chun. "With our friend and fellow harmonia mundi artist Frederic Chiu, we were moved to create a program of works especially close to our hearts from the eastern European 20th-century repertoire - a continuing homage to Bartók!
"We are also performing the Sonatina for Two Violins by the Korean-German composer Isang Yun, who was a mentor to us. This piece, like much of his music, describes conflict - and ends in harmony. With all the conflict that's happening today, we would like to offer this plea for harmony to the world."
Korean-German composer Isang Yun (1917-1995) was known for works that imaginatively and uniquely combined musical traditions of the West with those of Korea and China. Born in Korea, he studied in Japan and in Paris before settling, working and teaching in Berlin.
Beijing-born composer and pianist Gao Ping (born 1970) has been described as a leading member of "sixth generation" Chinese composers, following "fifth generation" composers such as Tan Dun and Qu Xiao-Song. Naxos Records has released an acclaimed disc of his chamber music. Since 2004, Dr. Gao has been a composition lecturer in the School of Music at the Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Upcoming on harmonia mundi
Angela and Jennifer Chun's third disc for harmonia mundi will feature Unforgettable, a two-violin concerto written for them by George Tsontakis - based on the song made famous by Nat King Cole - that the Chuns premiered at the Aspen Music Festival in 2009.
Angela and Jennifer Chun have forged a niche in the music world as a violin duo of uncommon distinction. The sisters "play with an intensity and sense of purpose that few music lovers can resist," according to Strings magazine. Their two recent recordings on the harmonia mundi label, Fantasy and Bartók 44 Violin Duos (which was one of the label's best-selling releases for 2010), shine a spotlight on the two-violin repertoire, prompting many to agree: "They play this music so well that it makes one regret that composers have not produced more for this winning combination." (All Music Guide)
In addition to playing favorites by Bach and Vivaldi, Angela and Jennifer have brought to light duo-violin music by composers including Berio, Schnittke, and Arvo Pärt. Their 2008 disc, Fantasy, features, in addition to works by Martinu, Milhaud, and Shostakovich, two pieces by Isang Yun. They have worked with composers Behzad Ranjbaran and Sebastian Currier, and in 2009, they premiered a work written for them, a two-violin concerto by George Tsontakis titled Unforgettable (based on the Nat King Cole song) at the Aspen Music Festival. In the coming seasons the Chuns will premiere a piece being written for them by Osvaldo Golijov.
Since 2007, Angela and Jennifer have been String Mentors at London's Royal Academy of Music, a prestigious honor given to only a few highly accomplished artists.
The Chuns have worked with conductors including Ivan Fischer, André Previn, Thomas Sanderling, Zubin Mehta, and Gerard Schwarz, with orchestras including the Seattle Symphony, London Bach Orchestra, Mozarteum Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, and KBS Symphony Orchestra. At a concert featuring the Bach Double Concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, Leonard Slatkin not only conducted the performance but accompanied them on the harpsichord. Angela and Jennifer have also performed at the Mostly Mozart, Aspen, and Ravinia festivals, and the International Bartók Festival.
Angela and Jennifer took up the violin at a very young age, playing in a children's after-school orchestra growing up in Seattle, and studying with Hungarian violinist Denes Zsigmondy during their teen years. At The Juilliard School, Angela and Jennifer Chun studied with the legendary teachers Felix Galimir and Dorothy Delay, and later went to Switzerland for studies with Nathan Milstein, who has called them "not only wonderfully accomplished, but also dedicated to new music and new sound. They are rare jewels of classical music."
Frederic Chiu was praised in the New York Times earlier this season as "the excellent pianist...shining, powerful." His intriguing piano-playing and teaching springs from a diverse set of experiences and interests: his Asian/American/European background, his musical training, and an early and ongoing exploration of artificial intelligence and human psychology, especially the body-mind-heart connection.
With over 20 CDs on the market, his repertoire includes the complete work of Prokofiev as well as popular classics of Chopin, Liszt and others, and lesser known masterpieces of Mendelssohn and Rossini, with a special place for the piano transcription. Many have been singled out, such as "Record of the Year" by Stereo Review, "Top 10 recordings" by the New Yorker, with raves from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. His most recent recordings include the Beethoven/Liszt Symphony No. 5 and Carnival of the Animals with David Gonzalez.
Frederic Chiu has toured in Europe and the U.S. with the Orchestre de Bretagne and Stefan Sanderling. He has played with the Hartford Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Kansas City Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra, Estonia National Symphony, China National Symphony, among others. In recital he performs in the world's most prestigious halls including the Berlin Philharmonic, Kioi and Suntory Halls in Tokyo, Lincoln Center in New York and Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Mr. Chiu's musical partners include Joshua Bell, Pierre Amoyal, Elmar Oliveira, Gary Hoffman, David Krakauer, Matt Haimovitz and the St. Lawrence, Shanghai and Daedalus string quartets.
Frederic Chiu recently premiered Edgar Meyer's Concert Piece with Joshua Bell. He has worked with many composers, including George Crumb, Frederick Rzewsky, Bright Sheng, Gao Ping and David Benoit. Frederic Chiu is also committed to expanding the place of classical music. He has created unusual collaborations with personalities outside the world of Classical music, such as the Shakespearean actor Brian Bedford and psychologist/writer/clown Howard Buten. He worked with the hip-hop artist Socalled in the Messiaen Remix project. He does extensive work with children through concert/lectures for schools, and has brought classical music to places where it is rarely heard. Currently, he is performing with David Gonzalez in the classics Peter and the Wolf and Carnival of the Animals, transcribed for solo piano and narrator.