Events & Tickets
VIOLA VISIONS: VISIONS AND INSTALLATIONS
New World Center
- Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
- Kim Kashkashian, viola
- Matthew Lipman, viola
- Nadia Sirota, viola
- Jonathan Vinocour, viola
- Tabea Zimmermann, viola
- Jason Ferrante, tenor
- Ljubinka Kulisic, accordion
MTT leads Viola Visions’ renowned guest artists in performances of chamber works that showcase the viola. Nadia Sirota performs Keep in Touch, a lamentation for solo viola and pre-recorded CD written for her by Nico Muhly, who will conduct. George Benjamin’s Viola, Viola is a mesmerizing dance and fierce dialogue between Tabea Zimmermann and Matthew Lipman. The explosive Chemins II by Luciano Berio is a reimagining of his famed Sequenzas with Jonathan Vinocour at the helm. Israeli composer Betty Olivero evokes the pain and grief of wartime using Middle Eastern melodies and dueling string ensembles in Neharót Neharót, written for and performed by Kim Kashkashian.
Knight Foundation and New World Symphony: Reimagining Classical Music in the Digital Age.
WAYS TO WATCH:
Approx. Duration: 12 minutes
Keep In Touch
Approx. Duration: 11 minutes
Ms. Zimmermann and Mr. Lipman
Approx. Duration: 12 minutes
Chemins II for Viola and Nine Instruments
Approx. Duration: 14 minutes
Neharót Neharót for Viola, Accordion, Percussion, Two String Ensembles and Tape
Michael Tilson Thomas is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy; Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony; and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition to these posts, he maintains an active presence guest conducting with the major orchestras of Europe and the United States.
Born in Los Angeles, Mr. Tilson Thomas is the third generation of his family to follow an artistic career. His grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, were founding members of the Yiddish Theater in America. His father, Ted Thomas, was a producer in the Mercury Theater Company in New York before moving to Los Angeles where he worked in films and television. His mother, Roberta Thomas, was the head of research for Columbia Pictures.
Mr. Tilson Thomas began his formal studies at the University of Southern California where he studied piano with John Crown and conducting and composition with Ingolf Dahl. At age 19 he was named Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra. He worked with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen and Copland on premieres of their compositions at Los Angeles’ Monday Evening Concerts. During this same period he was the pianist and conductor for Gregor Piatigorsky and Jascha Heifetz.
In 1969, after winning the Koussevitzky Prize at Tanglewood, he was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. That year he also made his New York debut with the Boston Symphony and gained international recognition after replacing Music Director William Steinberg in mid-concert. He was later appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra where he remained until 1974. He was Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic from 1971 to 1979 and a Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1981 to 1985. His guest conducting includes appearances with the major orchestras of Europe and the United States.
His recorded repertoire of more than 120 discs includes works by composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Mahler, Prokofiev and Stravinsky as well as his pioneering work with the music of Charles Ives, Carl Ruggles, Steve Reich, John Cage, Ingolf Dahl, Morton Feldman, George Gershwin, John McLaughlin and Elvis Costello. He also recorded the complete orchestral works of Gustav Mahler with the San Francisco Symphony.
Mr. Tilson Thomas’ television work includes a series with the London Symphony Orchestra for BBC Television, the television broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts from 1971 to 1977 and numerous productions on PBS’ Great Performances. Mr. Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony produced a multi-tiered media project, Keeping Score, which includes a television series, web sites, radio programs and programs in schools.
In 1990 Mr. Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony were presented in a series of benefit concerts for UNICEF in the United States, featuring Audrey Hepburn as narrator of From the Diary of Anne Frank, composed by Mr. Tilson Thomas and commissioned by UNICEF. This piece has since been translated and performed in many languages worldwide. In August 1995 he led the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra in the premiere of his composition Showa/Shoah, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Thomas Hampson premiered his settings of poetry by Walt Whitman, Renée Fleming premiered his settings of the poetry of Emily Dickinson and the San Francisco Symphony premiered his concerto for contrabassoon entitled Urban Legend. As a Carnegie Hall Perspectives Artist from 2003 to 2005, he had an evening devoted to his own compositions which included Island Music for four marimbas and percussion, Notturno for solo flute and strings and a new setting of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. Other compositions include Street Song for brass instruments and Agnegram, an overture for orchestra.
Among his many honors and awards, Mr. Tilson Thomas is a Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France, was Musical America’s Musician of the Year and Conductor of the Year, Gramophone Magazine’s Artist of the Year and has been profiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes and ABC’s Nightline. He has won 11 Grammy Awards for his recordings. In 2008 he received the Peabody Award for his radio series for SFS Media, The MTT Files. In 2010 President Obama awarded him the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the United States Government.
Kim Kashkashian, viola
Kim Kashkashian, internationally recognized as a unique voice on the viola, was born of Armenian parents in Michigan. She studied the viola with Karen Tuttle and legendary violist Walter Trampler at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore. Since fall 2000 she has taught viola and chamber music at New England Conservatory.
Following Grammy Award nominations for several previous recordings, Ms. Kashkashian received a 2012 Grammy Award in the "Best Classical Instrumental Solo" category for Kurtág and Ligeti: Music for Viola, on the ECM Records label. Ms. Kashkashian's recording, with Robert Levin, of the Brahms Sonatas won the Edison Prize in 1999. Her June 2000 recording of concertos by Bartók, Eötvös and Kurtág won the 2001 Cannes Classical Award for a premiere recording by soloist with orchestra.
In 2016 Ms. Kashkashian was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Ms. Kashkashian has worked tirelessly to broaden the range of technique, advocacy, and repertoire for the viola. A staunch proponent of contemporary music, she has developed creative relationships with György Kurtág, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Giya Kancheli, and Arvo Pärt, and commissioned works from Peter Eötvös, Ken Ueno, Thomas Larcher, Lera Auerbach and Tigran Mansurian.
Marlboro and the Viennese school represented by her mentor, Felix Galimir, were major influences in developing Ms. Kashkashian’s love of chamber music. She is a regular participant at the Verbier, Salzburg, Lockenhaus, Marlboro and Ravinia festivals. She has long-standing duo partnerships with pianist Robert Levin and percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky, and played in a unique string quartet with Gidon Kremer, Daniel Phillips and Yo-Yo Ma.
As a soloist, Ms. Kashkashian has appeared with the great orchestras of Berlin, London, Vienna, Milan, New York and Cleveland, and in recital at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, Kaufmann Hall, New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, as well as in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, Athens and Tokyo.
Ms. Kashkashian's musicianship has been well represented on recordings through her association with the prestigious ECM label in a fruitful collaboration that has been continuous since 1985.
Ms. Kashkashian has taught in Bloomington, Indiana, and in Freiburg and Berlin, Germany, and now resides with her daughter in Boston. She is a founding member of Music for Food, an initiative by musicians to fight hunger in their home communities.
American violist Matthew Lipman is recognized as one of the world’s leading young instrumentalists. He has been hailed by The New York Times for his "rich tone and elegant phrasing" and by the Chicago Tribune for his "splendid technique and musical sensitivity.”
A 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, Mr. Lipman has appeared as soloist with the Minnesota, Illinois Philharmonic, Grand Rapids Symphony, Wisconsin Chamber, Juilliard, Ars Viva Symphony, and Montgomery Symphony orchestras, and in recital at the WQXR Greene Space in New York City and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Lipman released the world-premiere recording of the newly discovered Impromptu by Dmitri Shostakovich, debuted in recital at Lincoln Center’s Rose Studio with pianist Henry Kramer. He also headlined a tour of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and performed Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante as special guest artist at the Royal Northern College in Manchester, U.K. His debut solo album Ascent—that features a new commission by Brazilian composer Clarice Assad—was released by Cedille Records in February 2019. The Telegraph praised Mr. Lipman as “gifted with poise and a warmth of timbre” on his Avie recording of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with violinist Rachel Barton Pine and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields with the preeminent Mozart scholar Sir Neville Marriner, which topped the Billboard charts. He was the only violist featured on WFMT Chicago’s list of "30 Under 30" of the world’s top classical musicians and has been profiled by The Strad, Strings and BBC Music magazines.
Mr. Lipman performs internationally as a chamber musician with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and regularly at the prominent Music@Menlo, Marlboro, Ravinia, Bridgehampton, Seattle, Cleveland and White Nights festivals. A top prizewinner of the Primrose, Tertis, Washington, Johansen and Stulberg International Competitions, he received his bachelor's and master's degrees as an inaugural Kovner fellow from The Juilliard School as a student of Heidi Castleman, and was further mentored by Tabea Zimmermann at the Kronberg Academy. A native of Chicago, Mr. Lipman was recently appointed viola faculty at Stony Brook University and performs on a fine 1700 Matteo Goffriller viola loaned through the generous efforts of the RBP Foundation and a Dominique Peccatte viola bow.
Violist Nadia Sirota’s varied career spans solo performances, chamber music, curation and broadcasting. In all branches of her artistic life she aims to open classical music up to a broader audience. Her singular sound and expressive execution have served as muse to dozens of composers, including Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, Missy Mazzoli, Daníel Bjarnason, Judd Greenstein, Marcos Balter and David Lang.
Since 2018, Ms. Sirota has served as the New York Philharmonic’s Creative Partner, a position created for her. In this role, she helped create and hosts two series: Nightcap and Sound ON, the latter of which she also curates. In addition, she works with the Philharmonic on contemporary music initiatives across the organization.
This season, Ms. Sirota launches Living Music with Nadia Sirota, a new podcast and concert series that demystifies classical music. She will also appear as soloist with the New World and Singapore symphonies, debut new works by Nico Muhly, Daníel Bjarnason and Ellen Reid, and embark upon two new residencies: as Creative Associate at The Juilliard School, and Artist-in-Residence at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance.
As a soloist, Ms. Sirota has appeared with acclaimed orchestras around the world, including the Detroit Symphony, Colorado Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Spanish National Orchestra and Orchestre National d’Île-de-France. To date, she has released four solo albums of commissioned music, first things first (2009), Baroque (2013), Keep In Touch (2016) and Tessellatum (2017). Ms. Sirota is a member of Bedroom Community, a collective of musically diverse artists who work and collaborate at Reykjavik’s Greenhouse Studios. She has also lent her sound to recording and concert projects by such artists as The National, David Bowie and Björk.
Ms. Sirota is a member of the acclaimed chamber sextet yMusic. Their virtuosic execution and unique configuration have attracted high profile collaborators including Paul Simon, Ben Folds and Anohni, and inspired an expanding repertoire of original works by prominent composers including Andrew Norman, Caroline Shaw and Chris Thile.
Ms. Sirota won a 2015 Peabody Award, broadcasting’s highest honor, for her podcast Meet the Composer, which deftly profiled some of the most interesting musical thinkers living today. She also received the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for her work in radio, and Southern Methodist University’s Meadows Prize, awarded to pioneering artists and scholars with an emerging international profile. She sits on the board of directors of Chamber Music America, the national service organization for ensemble music professionals. Ms. Sirota received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School, where she studied with Heidi Castleman, Misha Amory and Hsin-Yun Huang.
Jonathan Vinocour, viola
Jonathan Vinocour joined the San Francisco Symphony as Principal Viola in 2009, having previously served as Principal Viola of the Saint Louis Symphony and Guest Principal Viola of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. A native of Rochester, he graduated from Princeton University with a degree in chemistry. He completed his master’s degree at the New England Conservatory, where he studied with Kim Kashkashian.
With the San Francisco Symphony, Mr. Vinocour has appeared as soloist in Britten’s Double Concerto and Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante (both with Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik), Berlioz’ Harold in Italy and Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel. He has also performed as a soloist with the Saint Louis Symphony. His first solo album, featuring works of Britten and Shostakovich, was recorded with the support of the Holland America Music Society. Mr. Vinocour was also a featured recitalist at the 2012 International Viola Congress, and he performs frequently in recital throughout the Bay Area.
Mr. Vinocour has been a regular participant at the Marlboro Music Festival and has toured extensively with Musicians from Marlboro. He enjoys a busy chamber music schedule during summer seasons, participating in many festivals such as Seattle Chamber Music, Aspen Music Festival, Bay Chamber Concerts, Music in the Vineyards and the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, among others. He has been a guest of the Da Camera Society of Los Angeles, Boston Chamber Music Society, International Sejong Soloists, and is a frequent guest artist with the Saint Lawrence String Quartet. He is a founding member of ECCO (East Coast Chamber Orchestra), based in New York.
A dedicated and increasingly active pedagogue, Mr. Vinocour has presented master classes at conservatories around the country and abroad. He is a regular coach at the New World Symphony, has been on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School, and is currently on faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He plays a 1784 Lorenzo Storioni viola, on loan from the San Francisco Symphony.
Tabea Zimmermann, viola
For many years, Tabea Zimmermann has been regarded as one of the most renowned musicians of our time. Audiences and fellow musicians value her charismatic personality and deep musical understanding. Arguably the finest violist in the world today, she owes her success not only to her exceptional talent, but also to the support of her parents, thorough training by excellent teachers, a tireless enthusiasm to communicate her understanding and love of music to her audience and an uncompromisingly high quality standard.
As a soloist Ms. Zimmermann regularly works with the most distinguished orchestras worldwide such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, London Symphony, Israel Philharmonic and the Czech Philharmonic. Following residencies in Weimar, Luxembourg, Hamburg and with the Bamberg Symphony, she was artist-in-residence with the Ensemble Resonanz from 2013-15, and continues this close collaboration. In the 2015-16 season, she was artist-in-residence of the Frankfurt Museums-Gesellschaft.
Ms. Zimmermann kicked off the 2018-19 season with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra at the BBC Proms. Further highlights of the current season include her concerts with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under Susanna Mälkki, the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest under Markus Stenz and at the Philharmonie de Paris with Les Siècles under Francois-Xavier Roth. On a tour of Asia, she will perform Mantovani‘s Double Concerto together with Antoine Tamestit and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, and appear with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra in York Höller’s new Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, which she premiered in 2018 with the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne under François-Xavier Roth.
The Arcanto Quartet, in which Ms. Zimmermann performs with violinists Antje Weithaas and Daniel Sepec and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, has provided a special focus for her chamber music activities. On the label Harmonia Mundi, they have released CDs of works by Bartók, Brahms, Ravel, Dutilleux, Debussy, Schubert and Mozart.
Ms. Zimmermann has inspired numerous composers to write for the viola and has introduced many new works into the standard concert and chamber music repertoire. In 1994 she gave the highly successful world premiere of the Sonata for Solo Viola by György Ligeti, a work composed especially for her. The subsequent premieres of this work in London, New York, Paris, Jerusalem, Amsterdam and Japan attracted great critical and public acclaim. In recent seasons, Ms. Zimmermann has premiered Recicanto for Viola and Orchestra by Heinz Holliger, the viola concerto Über die Linie IV by Wolfgang Rihm, Monh by George Lentz, Notte di pasqua by Frank Michael Beyer, a double concerto by Bruno Mantovani with Antoine Tamestit, and Filz by Enno Poppe with Ensemble Resonanz. She played the premiere of Michael Jarrell’s Viola Concerto at Festival Musica Strasbourg 2017 with the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire under Pascal Rophé; and subsequent performances with the Vienna Symphony under Ingo Metzmacher, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Pascal Rophé and the Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin under Mario Venzago.
To mark Hindemith’s anniversary in 2013, Ms. Zimmermann released a highly acclaimed complete recording of the composer’s works for viola on myrios classics. Following the success of her recording of solo works by Reger and Bach with myrios classics in 2009 – for which she received an Echo Klassik prize as Instrumentalist of the Year – she has released three albums with pianists Kirill Gerstein and Thomas Hoppe. Ms. Zimmerman’s artistry is documented on approximately 50 CDs for labels such as EMI, Teldec and Deutsche Grammophon. A live recording of her performance on Beethoven’s own viola at the Beethovenhaus Bonn, accompanied by Hartmut Höll, was released by Ars Musici.
Ms. Zimmermann has received several national and international awards for her outstanding artistic achievements. These include the Federal Cross of Merit, Frankfurter Musikpreis, Hessischer Kulturpreis, Rheingau Musikpreis, International Prize Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Sienna, the Paul-Hindemith-Prize from the city of Hanau and most recently as Artist of the Year by the ICMA International Classical Music Awards 2017. She is a foundation board member of the Hindemith Foundation in Blonay (Switzerland) as well as ambassador for the German Foundation for Children’s Hospices. In 2013 she was appointed chairwoman of the board of the Beethoven-Haus Bonn. Under her aegis, the Beethoven-Woche Bonn has taken place every year since January 2015.
Ms. Zimmermann began learning the viola at the age of three, and two years later began playing the piano. She studied with Ulrich Koch at the Musikhochschule Freiburg and subsequently with Sandor Vegh at the Mozarteum Salzburg. Following her studies, she received several awards at international competitions, amongst them first prizes at the 1982 Geneva International Competition and the 1984 Budapest International Competition. As a result of winning the 1983 Maurice Vieux Competition in Paris, she received a viola by the contemporary maker Etienne Vatelot, on which she has been performing ever since. From 1987 to 2000, she regularly gave concerts in Düsseldorf, Jerusalem and Luxembourg with the late David Shallon, father of her two sons Yuval and Jonathan. Ms. Zimmermann has held teaching posts at the Musikhochschule Saarbrücken and Hochschule für Musik Frankfurt. Since 2002 she has been a professor at the Hochschule für Musik ‘Hanns Eisler’ in Berlin, where she now lives with her three children.
Jason Ferrante, tenor
Opera News praises tenor Jason Ferrante for “singing up a stylish storm” and for getting “the gold star for trills,” and the Berkshire Eagle says he “seems to brighten every stage he mounts.” Mr. Ferrante created the role of Little Victor Farrell in the world premiere of Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s Elizabeth Cree with Opera Philadelphia to open their O17 Festival and he repeated Little Victor for his debut with Chicago Opera Theater.
On the concert stage, Mr. Ferrante has appeared with the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, National Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, Tucson Symphony, Traverse Symphony at Interlochen, Key Chorale of Sarasota and Juilliard Orchestra in operas and concerts, as well as masterpieces such as Handel’s Messiah, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Mass in C, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Bach’s Magnificat.
Mr. Ferrante holds both bachelor of music and master of music degrees from The Juilliard School, where he held the Alice Tully Voice Scholarship. His professional training includes summers at Wolf Trap, Aspen Music Festival and Tanglewood. His primary vocal studies were with legendary vocal pedagogue Beverley Peck Johnson with additional studies with Rita Shane, Phyllis Curtin and Cynthia Hoffmann.
Ljubinka Kulisic, accordion
Ljubinka Kulisic is an accordion artist based in New York City. She has won several awards at competitions performing modern pieces for accordion. She received her bachelor and master of arts in music performance from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland in Lugano. She has performed as a soloist and with contemporary music ensembles across Europe, Canada and United States.
Ms. Kulisic focuses on modern pieces originally written for accordion, as well as chamber music pieces with classical free bass accordion. Her first collaboration with Italian composer Giovanni Santini in 2011 led to the creation of a new work, Combat de Centaures for accordion solo.
Ms. Kulisic has participated in numerous festivals such as Act Performance Festival in Dampfzentrale in Bern, Switzerland, where she performed pieces for accordion by Arne Nordheim, and Contemporary Music Festival “900 e presente’’ in Radio of Italian Switzerland (RSI), where she performed pieces of John Cage.
In 2012 Ms. Kulisic gave the world premiere performance, recording and direct radio broadcast of the newly written piece for modern ensemble with accordion Al’ angelo blu by Giovanni Santini.
She also participated at Lungolago Festival 2014 for the world premiere of Round, written for four sopranos, two accordions, piano and percussions by Italian composer and accordionist Gabriele Marangoni.
Besides her involvement in music originally written for her instrument, Ms. Kulisic also transcribes Baroque and Classical pieces written for harpsichord, piano and organ.
In 2014 Ms. Kulisic earned a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Music Pedagogy from Halvetic Music Institute- Private Institute for Continuing Education in Music Pedagogy and Music Therapy in Bellinzona, Switzerland. From 2015 to 2017 she studied at the University of Toronto, where she worked as a teaching assistant for the Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME) at the Faculty of Music. She led the ensemble of graduate students and introduced them to new music literature, new compositional techniques and ways of interpreting contemporary musical pieces. She sat in a committee for the admission of new members and participated in the organization and preparation of concerts.
In 2017 during a U.S. tour, Ms. Kulisic participated in the Cotati Accordion Festival in California. Her collaboration with American jazz accordionist Cory Pesaturo led to a presentation of the accordion in Google in San Francisco. In Google Talks, two accordionists presented the differences between electronic and acoustic accordion.
Ms. Kulisic speaks English, German, Italian and Serbian.