Press Room

Eastman School of Music: alums in the news, plus exciting line-up in Rochester

The Eastman School of Music continues making headlines this year, while offering students an invaluable array of enrichment opportunities. After scoring a succession of high-profile triumphs at the Grammys and the Metropolitan Opera, Eastman alumni maintain a strong presence in New York City, where Kristian Bezuidenhout gives a fortepiano recital at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall (Feb 27) and the Eastman BroadBand ensemble performs new music by Eastman composers at Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò (April 7). In Rochester, meanwhile, Eastman students can look forward to learning experiences with such luminaries as Itzhak Perlman (Feb 22), Leon Fleisher (Feb 20–23), and Irvine Arditti (Feb 27); the tenth annual Women in Music Festival, featuring composer-in-residence Jennifer Higdon (March 24–29); and staged performances of Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites by the Eastman Opera Theatre (April 3–6).
ESM alums make the news at the Grammys and the Met
Five Eastman graduates scored wins at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards on January 26. Maria Schneider (MM ’85) won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for her song cycle Winter Morning Walks, as heard on her album of the same name. Grammy Awards also went to the vocal group Roomful of Teeth, of which Eastman graduates Martha Cluver (BM ’03) and Eric Dudley (BM ’01) are members, for the Best Chamber Music / Small Ensemble Performance; engineer Bob Ludwig (BM ’66, MM ’01), who scored no fewer than four awards, taking his current Grammy total to nine, for his work on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and Charlie is My Darling—Ireland 1965; and Kent Knappenberger (MM ’89), who received the first Recording Academy and Grammy Foundation Music Educator Award.
Two more Eastman graduates recently shone at the Metropolitan Opera. In a last-minute substitution, soprano Erin Morley (BM ’02) stepped in to sing all performances of Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier; the New York Times admired her “thoroughly confident and rounded portrayal of the girl.” In December, soprano Kathryn Lewek (BM ’06; MM ’08) made her Met debut as the Queen of the Night in Julie Taymor’s special holiday production of Mozart’s Magic Flute. A double prize winner at Plácido Domingo’s 2013 Operalia World Opera Competition, Lewek looks forward to reprising the role at Houston Grand Opera next season.
Eastman in New York City: at Carnegie Hall and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò
South African-born keyboard virtuoso Kristian Bezuidenhout (BM ’01; MM ’04) presents a program of Mozart and C.P.E. Bach at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall on February 27. “A vigorously intelligent musician, well equipped with the technique to back up some extraordinary new ideas about old music” (Boston Globe), Bezuidenhout is celebrated for his mastery on a variety of keyboard instruments, from the harpsichord to the modern piano. But it is as “one of the foremost, and arguably the most brilliant of today’s fortepiano players” (The Times, UK), that he is increasingly well-known, with acclaimed recordings for Harmonia Mundi that led to his nomination this year as Gramophone’s Artist of the Year. Bezuidenhout also serves part-time as Eastman’s Instructor of Historical Keyboards.
The school continues its New York presence when Eastman BroadBand – a new-music ensemble that brings together Eastman faculty, alumni, and students – presents “If On a Winter’s Night…” at Manhattan’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò on April 7. A program of music and theater inspired by the writings of eminent Italian author Italo Calvino (1923–85), “If On a Winter’s Night…” comprises new works by Eastman composers Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Ricardo Acosta, Evan Henry, Daniel Kohane, Zach Sheets, Aristea Mellos, and Daniel Pesca, interspersed with staged scenes from Calvino’s stories. These will be enacted by New York-based theater company Kairos Italy Theater, under the direction of Italian dramaturg Laura Caparrotti. Jointly curated by Sanchez-Gutierrez, co-artistic director of Eastman BroadBand and an Eastman Professor of Composition, and Eastman Assistant Professor of Italian Elena Bellina, the program will be guest-conducted both at Casa Italiana and in a preview performance at Eastman’s Hatch Recital Hall on April 4 by Jed Gaylin, music director of the Bay-Atlantic Symphony.
Founded to promote international collaborations showcasing the school’s achievements in contemporary music, Eastman BroadBand specializes in 20th-century classics and recent music by living composers. Previous New York engagements include dates at the Americas Society, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, the Joyce Theatre, and Symphony Space, where the group’s account of Sanchez-Gutierrez’s Calvino-inspired work Five Memos prompted the New York Times to admire its sonic range “from densely scored and dark to a lighter section of iridescent sonorities.” After the group’s participation in David Lang’s recent Carnegie Hall residency, which culminated in a performance at Zankel Hall, the New York Times praised the way “Eastman BroadBand, based at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, expertly handled the aural illusions of Carlos Iturralde’s enigmatic Fata Morgana.” The ensemble has also appeared at festivals in Mexico and Italy and has recorded for Bridge and Urtext Records.
At the Eastman School of Music in Rochester: Perlman, Fleisher, Higdon and more
At Eastman’s Rochester home, the New Year also brings an exciting line-up of events. Violin virtuoso and classical music icon Itzhak Perlman offers Eastman students an illuminating question-and-answer session with Eastman Dean Jamal Rossi and joins Eastman’s Philharmonia Orchestra for an account of Bruch’s First Violin Concerto, led by Eastman Professor of Conducting and Ensembles Neil Varon at Kodak Hall in the Eastman Theatre (Feb 22). A Kennedy Center honoree, Perlman’s other accolades include the Medal of Liberty, the National Medal of Arts, 15 Grammy Awards, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Another Kennedy Center honoree, legendary pianist Leon Fleisher, coaches Eastman piano students and chamber groups in a pair of masterclasses on February 20 and 21, before joining the school’s resident Ying Quartet for a rendition of Brahms’s Piano Quintet (Feb 23). According to American Public Media, “Fleisher has redefined the meaning of perfection,” and, as the Chicago Tribune observes, “At 83, he’s still got the musical chops.” His sold-out appearance at Eastman is presented as part of the Eastman-Ranlet string quartet recital series.
On February 27 Irvine Arditti, best-known as first violinist of the legendary Arditti Quartet, also gives a student masterclass, besides demonstrating his “unflappable command” (Guardian, UK) of recent works for unaccompanied violin by Brian Ferneyhough, Luciano Berio, Hilda Paredes, and Salvatore Sciarrino in a guest recital at Hatch Recital Hall.
From March 24-29, Eastman is proud to present the 2014 Women in Music Festival, now celebrating its tenth anniversary season. This year’s composer-in-residence is Jennifer Higdon, winner of a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition, who holds the Rock Chair in Composition at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Higdon’s residency will include coaching sessions with Eastman performers, a lecture at the Composers’ Forum, a masterclass, a rehearsal with the Greater Rochester Women’s Philharmonic, and concerts of her music at both Eastman and Nazareth College. Other festival highlights include recitals and masterclasses from the pianists of the Kaplan Duo, and a concert celebrating the music of Canadian harpist-composer Caroline Lizotte.
As home to one of the nation’s foremost Women’s Rights advocates, Susan B. Anthony, Rochester played an important part in the women’s movement. It was Anthony who spearheaded the campaign for the University of Rochester to admit women; as a result, her own niece went on to graduate from the Eastman School of Music and became one of the first women to hold a principal chair in a major symphony orchestra.
On April 3–6, Eastman Opera Theatre returns with a new production of Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites (1956) at Kodak Hall. Directed by Stephen Carr and conducted by Benton Hess, the cast for Eastman’s staging will be drawn from the school’s Voice and Opera program. In his first production as Eastman Opera Theatre’s assistant director, Carr recently created “an utterly enjoyable production with a distinctively generous spirit” (Democrat and Chronicle) of the Broadway musical She Loves Me.
About the Eastman School of Music
The Eastman School of Music ranks among the nation’s premier music schools, boasting Guggenheim Fellows, Grammy, and ASCAP Award winners on its distinguished faculty. The school has been commended and recognized nationwide for giving its students an intensive professional education, entrepreneurial opportunities in their musical disciplines, and the experience of a broader liberal arts education within the University of Rochester. Eastman’s prominent alumni include opera singers Renée Fleming, Anthony Dean Griffey, Joyce Castle, and the late William Warfield; jazz musicians Ron Carter, Steve Gadd, and Chuck Mangione; composer-conductor Maria Schneider; and composers Dominick Argento, Charles Strouse, Michael Torke, and Jeff Beal. The School presents more than 700 public concerts a year and hosts a variety of prestigious festivals and events, including, most recently, the International Society of Bassists Convention and the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.
Full details of upcoming Eastman events are provided below, and more information is available at
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© 21C Media Group, February 2014

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