Friday, Mar 26, 2021 at 7:30pm
Mika Sasaki, piano
Grace Park, violin
Emily Daggett Smith, violin
Brendan Speltz, violin
Luke Fleming, viola
Brook Speltz, cello
The Manhattan Chamber Players is a chamber music collective of New York-based musicians who share the common aim of performing the greatest works in the chamber repertoire at the highest level. Formed in 2015 by Artistic Director and violist Luke Fleming, MCP is comprised of an impressive roster of musicians who all come from the tradition of great music making at the Marlboro Music Festival, Steans Institute at Ravinia, Music@Menlo, Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival and Perlman Music Program, and are former students of the Curtis Institute, Juilliard School, Colburn School, and the New England Conservatory.
MCP has been praised in Strings Magazine for “A fascinating program concept…It felt refreshingly like an auditory version of a vertical wine tasting.” The article went on to applaud MCP for “an intensely wrought and burnished performance…Overall, I wished I could put them on repeat.” At the core of MCP’s inspiration is its members’ joy in playing this richly varied repertoire with longtime friends and colleagues, with whom they have been performing since they were students. Its roster allows for the programming of the entire core string, wind, and piano chamber music repertoire—from piano duos to clarinet quintets to string octets. While all its members have independent careers as soloists and chamber musicians, they strive for every opportunity to come together and again share in this special collaboration, creating “a mellifluous blend of vigorous intensity and dramatic import, performed with enthusiasm, technical facility and impressive balance, relishing distinctions…a winning performance.” (Classical Source)
Members of MCP are current and former members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Ensemble Connect, and the Aizuri, Attacca, Dover, Escher, Vega, and Ying Quartets, the Aletheia, Appassionata, and Lysander Piano Trios, and Imani Winds. They are top prizewinners in the Banff, Concert Artists Guild, Fischoff, Melbourne, Naumburg, Osaka, Primrose, Queen Elisabeth, Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky, Tertis, and Young Concert Artists Competitions, and are some of the most sought after solo and chamber performers of their generation. The Manhattan Chamber Players have been featured multiple times on NPR’s Performance Today, and is the Ensemble-in-Residence at both the Festival de Febrero in Mexico and the Crescent City Chamber Music Festival in New Orleans. In addition to its numerous concerts across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, MCP regularly tours in Asia and the Middle East, and has led chamber music residency programs at institutions throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Pianist Mika Sasaki is an imaginative and versatile soloist, chamber musician, and educator whose performances and teaching have taken her to the U.K., Italy, Japan, Switzerland, and throughout the U.S. Her debut album, Obsidian: Mika Sasaki plays Clara Schumann, released on Yarlung Records in 2016, was highly acclaimed by the Online Merker as “illuminat[ing] the artistic inspiration and creative exchange between three Romantic souls,” Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms. Her performances have been broadcasted live on WQXR, WFMT, KQAC, and on Radio Sweden, and she has appeared as concerto soloist with the Sinfonia of Cambridge (U.K.), New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, 92Y Orchestra, and more recently, with the InterSchool Symphony Orchestra of New York, performing Amy Beach’s Piano Concerto in February 2019.
Festival appearances include Music@Menlo, Tanglewood, Chigiana, pianoSonoma, Taos, Yellow Barn, Aspen, Focus!, Icicle Creek, Rushmore, Mannes Beethoven Institute, Caramoor, Shandelee, Weekend of Chamber Music, and Summer Performing Arts with Juilliard in Geneva, Switzerland. Ms. Sasaki is the pianist of Ensemble Mélange and frequently concertizes with the Manhattan Chamber Players, the Chameleon Arts Ensemble in Boston, Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, and with her duo partners. She is an alumna of the Peabody Conservatory (B.M., M.M.), the Juilliard School (D.M.A.), and Ensemble Connect—a two-year fellowship program of Carnegie Hall, Juilliard, and the Weill Institute, in partnership with the NYC Department of Education. Upon completing her doctorate at Juilliard, Ms. Sasaki won the Juilliard Career Advancement Fellowship as a graduate who demonstrated outstanding artistry and achievement in leadership, entrepreneurship, and breadth of engagement.
Based in New York City, Ms. Sasaki is a faculty member at the Juilliard School, where she teaches Piano and Keyboard Skills courses in the Evening Division and Piano Topics and Keyboard Skills for Pianists in the College Division.
Grace Park, who has just been announced as the winner of the first prize in the 2018 Naumburg International Violin Competition, is a dynamic violinist, dedicated chamber musician, and passionate pedagogue. As a soloist, Ms. Park has been the featured soloist at The Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, Walt Disney Hall, Jordan Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Grace Rainey Auditorium in the Metropolitan Museum, the Rudolfinum in Prague, and Glinka Hall in St. Petersburg, with orchestras including North Czech Philharmonia, Russian Chamber Philharmonic, Napoli Chamber Orchestra, and, most recently, an engagement with Maxim Vengerov at the Cartegena Music Festival and performing solo Bach alongside YoYo Ma at New York City Center. A devoted chamber musician, Ms. Park has performed with a variety of ensembles around the world and has led chamber orchestras from the principal chair.
Ms. Park plays on a 1799 Nicolas Lupot, generously on loan from a private collection.
EMILY DAGGETT SMITH
Praised as playing “gorgeously” and with “gracefulness and easy rapport” (The Boston Globe), violinist Emily Daggett Smith has performed as soloist and chamber musician across the United States, Europe, South America and Asia. As a soloist, Dr. Smith made her New York concerto debut playing the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Juilliard Orchestra in Alice Tully Hall, and since then has performed concerti with many orchestras including Iris Orchestra, the Festival Mozaic Orchestra and the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra. She has given solo recitals across the country at venues including the Kennedy Center and Music in the Loft in Chicago.
As an active and passionate chamber musician Dr. Smith performs regularly at festivals and series around the country, and has shared the stage with renowned musicians including members of the Cleveland, Emerson, and Juilliard String Quartets. In addition to performing the masterpieces of the 17th through the 20th century, Dr. Smith is also a strong advocate of new music. She has premiered dozens of new works, including the world premiere of Dan Visconti’s Silvertone, which was commissioned for her debut recital in Chicago, and, as a founding member of the Tessera Quartet, recorded a world-premiere album of Harold Brown’s complete works for string quartet for Albany Records.
Despite her busy performance schedule, Dr. Smith is dedicated to education. She is on the violin Faculty of Bard College Conservatory Pre-College, has served on the violin faculty of the undergraduate department of Stony Brook University, and is the assistant for Laurie Smukler at Juilliard. She holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School, and as a recipient of the prestigious Staller Scholar Award, a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Stony Brook University. Her teachers have included Soovin Kim, Philip Setzer, Joel Smirnoff, Laurie Smukler and Donald Weilerstein. She plays on a Johannes Cuypers violin, generously donated by Dr. Marylou Witz.
NYC-based violinist Brendan Speltz, second violinist of the world renowned Escher String Quartet, has toured the globe with groundbreaking ensembles such as Shuffle Concert, the Manhattan Chamber Players, A Far Cry, and the Harlem Quartet. As founder of FeltInFour Productions, Mr. Speltz has produced innovative concert events across the New York City area that have been described by The New Yorker as “Thrilling, poignant, unexpected, and utterly DIY.” Most recently, Mr. Speltz co-created a cross-disciplinary presentation of Steve Reich’s Different Trains with aerial dance troupe ABCirque which was sponsored by Meyer Sound Labs. In NYC he has performed as guest with the New York New Music Ensemble, Mark Morris Dance Group, American Ballet Theatre, the American Symphony, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and as a founding member of the conductorless string orchestra Shattered Glass. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and his Master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Mr. Speltz plays a 1925 Carl Becker violin.
Praised by The Philadelphia Inquirer for his “glowing refinement,” violist Luke Fleming’s performances have been described by The Strad as “confident and expressive…playing with uncanny precision,” and lauded by Gramophone for their “superlative technical and artistic execution.” Festival appearances include the Marlboro Music School and Festival, the Steans Institute at Ravinia, Perlman Music Program, the Norfolk and Great Lakes Chamber Music Festivals, the Melbourne Festival, Bravo!Vail, and Festival Mozaic. Formerly the violist of the internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet, he has served as Artist-in-Residence for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and received the National Federation of Music Clubs Centennial Chamber Music Award. He was awarded First Prize at the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition and top prizes at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition.
In 2015, Mr. Fleming became the Founding Artistic Director of both the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based chamber music collective, and the Crescent City Chamber Music Festival. He is also a founding member of the Delaware-based Serafin Ensemble. He has performed as a guest artist with the Escher, Pacifica, Serafin, and Solera String Quartets, the Eroica, Lysander, and Gryphon Piano Trios, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Decoda, Ensemble Connect, Sejong Soloists, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the New York Classical Players, and has given masterclasses at UCLA, Louisiana State University, Ithaca College, Columbus State University, Syracuse University, Melbourne University, and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, among others. Mr. Fleming has served on the faculties of the Innsbrook Institute, Renova Music Festival, Festival del Lago, and Houston ChamberFest, and Fei Tian College and is Lecturer-in-Residence for the concert series Project: Music Heals Us.
Mr. Fleming holds the degrees of Doctor of Musical Arts, Artist Diploma, and Master of Music from the Juilliard School, a Postgraduate Diploma with Distinction from the Royal Academy of Music in London, and a Bachelor of Music summa *** laude from Louisiana State University. He is represented with the Manhattan Chamber Players by Arts Management Group.
Praised for his “fluid virtuosity” and “soulful melodies,” Los Angeles native Brook Speltz has been inspired since childhood by the long tradition of deep musical mastery of artists such as Jascha Heifetz, Pierre Fournier, and the Guarneri String Quartet. Mr. Speltz is the cellist of the internationally renowned Escher String Quartet—Quartet-in-Residence at Southern Methodist University in Dallas–and an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
An extremely versatile cellist, Mr. Speltz has performed as a soloist, chamber musician, and recitalist throughout the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. First Prize winner of the prestigious Ima Hogg Competition, he has performed as a soloist with the Houston Symphony, Colorado Music Festival Orchestra and International Contemporary Ensemble, among others, and is a regular performer at England’s IMS Prussia Cove and on tour with Musicians from Marlboro. An avid and sought after chamber musician, Mr. Speltz has been personally invited by musical giants such as Itzhak Perlman and Richard Goode to collaborate in chamber music recitals and tours throughout the country. As a result of these collaborations, he has been nominated for the inaugural Warner Music Prize, a newly established prize presented by Warner Music and Carnegie Hall.
A lover of all facets of the music world, Mr. Speltz has enjoyed performing on extensive tours with the cello rock band Break of Reality, whose online video of the Game of Thrones cover immediately went viral and has already received over 8.5 million views. Their recent U.S. tour raised funds and awareness for music programs in public schools all around the country. Mr. Speltz studied at the renowned Curtis Institute of Music with Peter Wiley and at the Juilliard School with Joel Krosnick, after his formative years of study with Eleanor Schoenfeld in Los Angeles. He performs on a 1756 J.C. Gigli on loan from his father, a cellist and his first inspiration in a family of professional musicians.
Wednesday, Mar 3, 2021 at 7:00pm Eastern Time
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