Livestreamed concerts mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth

UNCSA commemorates the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, in partnership with Beethoven Rocks Winston-Salem, with two upcoming concerts by acclaimed faculty-artists in the School of Music. The Black Mountain Trio – violinist Kevin Lawrence, pianist Dmitri Vorobiev and cellist Brooks Whitehouse – performs “Beethoven for Three” on Saturday, Sept. 26, and Vorobiev performs a recital, “Yes, Also Beethoven,” on Saturday, Oct. 3. 



"Musicians throughout the world are marking this anniversary by celebrating Beethoven  – one of the most important and celebrated composers of classical music,” said Interim Dean of Music Saxton Rose. “We look forward to sharing these concerts by our world-class faculty.”

 Beethoven was born Dec. 17, 1770, in Bonn, Germany.                              

“Beethoven For Three” at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 26 will include Piano Trio in D major, Op. 70, No. 2 (“Ghost”) and Piano Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 97 (“Archduke”).

“The ‘Ghost’ trio derives its nickname from its middle movement – eerie music of strange harmonic ambiguity, punctuated by explosive outbursts,” Lawrence explained. “The outer movements, by contrast, are full of good humor and energetic enthusiasm. With this piano trio, the role of the strings has risen to a level of equality with the keyboard, the completion of a long development from the time of Beethoven's predecessors Haydn and Mozart, and even from the earlier trios of Beethoven himself.”

Kevin Lawrence performs in Black Mountain Trio

Violinist Kevin Lawrence

Named for and dedicated to Archduke Rudolph of Austria, the “Archduke” trio represents a culminating musical event for the composer in three ways, Lawrence added. “It is the last large chamber composition of Beethoven's middle period, and it is the last of his major works for piano trio,” he said.

The premiere, and the second performance of the work a few weeks later, were also Beethoven's final appearances in public as a pianist.

“There is a grandeur of musical character and a majestic formal structure here more symphonic in scale than one would expect of a work for an intimate chamber ensemble,” Lawrence said.

The Black Mountain Trio is named to honor the vision of Black Mountain College, a vibrant artistic and educational institution that enriched the cultural history of North Carolina during the middle of the 20th century. Each member of the trio has dedicated a significant part of his career to the musical life of North Carolina. The trio has performed in North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont and Ohio, as well as Beijing and Shenzhen, China.

Cellist Brooks Whitehouse performs in Black Mountain Trio

Cellist Brooks Whitehouse

“Yes, Also Beethoven” at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 3 will feature faculty pianist Dmitri Vorobiev performing "Eroica" Variations, Op. 35; Bagatelles, Op. 33’ Rondo in C Major, Op. 51, No.1; and three smaller pieces that reveal a side of Beethoven that is not often seen or heard.

“We often think of Beethoven as the author of ‘Eroica’ Symphony, the Fifth Symphony and the Ninth Symphony – compositions that represent the heroic, monumental Beethoven which became somewhat of a stereotype,” Vorobiev said. Bagatelles, Op. 33, are simple pieces that are based on a small motive, proving that Beethoven is a master of a small genre as well.

Dmitri Vorobiev performs in Black Mountain Trio

Pianist Dmitri Vorobiev

“There is plenty of humor in these compositions as well as love and pure simplicity,” Vorobiev added. “The ‘Eroica’ Variations were composed prior to the famous ‘Eroica’ Symphony and are not performed as often as his piano sonatas. However, they do represent an incredible genius of Beethoven's art of improvisation that made him stand out among other musicians in Vienna in 1790s.”

Vorobiev said the Rondo and other small pieces “reveal an incredibly sweet side of Beethoven.”

About the musicians

Kevin Lawrence has consistently elicited superlative responses for his performances in major musical centers of the United States and Europe. He has appeared in recital at the National Gallery of Art in Washington; Merkin Hall and Lincoln Center in New York; in Chicago, Houston, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Rome, Prague, St. Petersburg and Moscow. Lawrence has premiered works by contemporary American compositional voices Laura Kaminsky, Judith Shatin, Lawrence Dillon, Michael Rothkopf and Evan Chambers. His recordings of American sonatas and chamber music on the New World and Bridge labels won significant critical recognition and were named as Critics Choice by American Record Guide.

Lawrence studied with Ivan Galamian and Felix Galimir at The Juilliard School and with Josef Gingold at the Meadowmount School in Westport, New York. In 1980, Galamian appointed Lawrence to the Meadowmount faculty, where he went on to teach for 14 years. Afterward, he became dean and then artistic director of the Killington Music Festival in Vermont. He is the founder and director of Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, which will hold its 16th season on the campus of University of Vermont in the summer of 2021.Lawrence has given master classes throughout the United States and in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Canada, Israel, Venezuela, Costa Rica, China, Thailand and Korea. Since 1990, he has served as a faculty member of UNCSA, where he was awarded an Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007.

UNCSA cello professor Brooks Whitehouse has performed and taught throughout the United States and abroad. As a member of the Guild Trio, Whitehouse won USIA Artistic Ambassador and Chamber Music Yellow Springs competitions, and he has toured extensively in the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia. He is the co-creator with Paul Sharpe of the popular cello/bass duo Low & Lower, and he has appeared as guest artist with the American Chamber Players, Villa Musica (Germany), the Ciompi Quartet, The Apple Hill Chamber Players and the New Zealand String Quartet. Recently, he performed in Carnegie Hall with the Garth Newell Piano Quartet as part of their 40th anniversary celebration.

Dmitri Vorobiev first gained international attention after winning the Casagrande International Piano Competition in Italy in 1994. He has been a major prizewinner in the Busoni, Cincinnati World, lbla Grand Prize, A M.A. Calabria, Iowa and Alabama international piano competitions. In 2000, he placed first and also took three special prizes at the UNISA International Piano Competition in Pretoria, South Africa, and in 2003, he won first prize in the New Orleans International Piano Competition. He appeared as a soloist with Cape Town Symphony Orchestra, Pretoria Chamber Orchestra, Durban Symphony, Terni Philharmonic, Manhattan School of Music Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony and Western Piedmont Symphony. His solo recitals have taken him throughout the United States, Israel, Russia, Germany, Czech Republic, Ireland and South Africa. One of his current projects is performing the complete solo piano works by Beethoven. Vorobiev's most recent production in progress is a double CD set with lesser-known works by Beethoven. He is also an active chamber music player. Some of the highlights include recordings of complete sonatas for violin and piano and complete piano trios by Bohuslav Martinu for the Naxos label.

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September 17, 2020