UNCSA Chamber Music Festival returns with three concerts in celebration of 20th anniversary of Watson Hall

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the opening of its handsome concert venue, Watson Hall, the School of Music at UNCSA is expanding the UNCSA Chamber Music Festival later this month to three concerts (from two) featuring faculty, students and seven distinguished guest artists (from three).

Grammy Award-winning violist Kim Kashkashian; cellist Brant Taylor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; hornist David Byrd-Marrow, a member of the International Contemporary Ensemble in residence at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival; Ieva Jokubaviciute, associate professor of the practice of piano at Duke University; violist Eric Koontz, an active chamber musician; clarinetist Alex Fiterstien, a professor of clarinet and chair of winds at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University; and Axel Strauss, professor of violin at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal, will spend a week teaching master classes, inspiring student musicians and performing on the concerts.

UNCSA spring 2023 Chamber Music Festival

UNCSA spring 2023 Chamber Music Festival

The performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14; Tuesday, Oct. 17; and Saturday, Oct. 21, at Watson Hall on the UNCSA campus at 1533 S. Main St. Tickets are $20 and $15 for non-UNCSA students with valid ID at online or by calling the box office at 336-721-1945. The concerts will also be available for free via livestream online.

The Oct. 14 program includes Mikhail Glinka’s Trio Pathetique for Clarinet, Bassoon and Piano; Mozart’s Serenade in C Minor, K. 38; and Beethoven’s Quintet in E-flat Major for Piano and Winds, Op. 16. David Byrd-Marrow, horn, and Alex Fiterstein, clarinet are the guest performers. 

The Oct. 17 program includes Robert Schumann’s Andante and Variations, Op. 47; Erno Von Dohnanyi’s Sextet in C Major, Op. 37; and UNCSA faculty composer Lawrence Dillon’s “Stillness and Velocity.” David Byrd-Marrow, horn; Eric Koontz, viola; and Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano, are the guest performers.

The Oct. 21 program includes Paul Schoenfield’s “Café Music”; Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47; and Antonin Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81. Kim Kashkashian, violin; Axel Strauss, violin; and Brant Taylor, cello, are the guest performers.

Founded and led by faculty members and artistic directors Ida Bieler and Dmitri Vorobiev, the UNCSA Chamber Music Festival was launched in fall 2021. The biannual festival provides invaluable opportunities for students to perform alongside faculty and guest artists and an intimate and rewarding experience for audiences in Watson Hall. The hall, which is the first music space designed for recitals and chamber music at UNCSA, opened in October 2003.

Ida Bieler

Ida Bieler

“It has magnificent acoustics and magnificent projection with warmth and brilliance,” Bieler said. “My ears are smiling and happy in that place. My violin is singing. It’s a perfect chamber music hall — the size, how the seats are configured. You can speak with or without a microphone and be heard.”

“There is a great feel of intimacy in Watson Hall, even though it’s not a small room,” Vorobiev said. “Watson Hall is not super small to the point that you feel overwhelmed by the music or super large where you feel left out. It’s the perfect size for chamber music.”

Bieler and Vorobiev also highlight the benefits Watson Hall offers students as part of their learning experience at the School of Music.

Dmitri Vorobiev

Dmitri Vorobiev

“Watson Hall really showcases everything, the color and range of the instruments, the diversity of the sound,” Vorobiev said. “It’s very alive.

“The whole point of the festival is to involve students and faculty as much as possible,” Vorobiev concluded. “We want to make great music on the highest level possible. We want the audience to hear the greatest music in the world in an intimate setting performed by great musicians.”

About Ida Bieler

Described by Fanfare Magazine as “a specialist in everything, from Bach to new-music premieres,” violinist Ida Bieler is renowned as a musician of extraordinary scope. A winner of prestigious competitions on three continents, she has enjoyed an exceptional solo, collaborative and recording career worldwide and is one of the most sought-after teachers of her generation. She has been a regular performer in major music capitals throughout the world, recording for radio and television on five continents and appearing with leading international orchestras.

About Dmitri Vorobiev

A native of Moscow, Russia, Vorobiev is an associate professor of piano in the UNCSA School of Music. He first came to international attention after winning the Casagrande International Piano Competition in Italy in 1994, followed by performances at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto and numerous recitals throughout Italy. Previously, he was on the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa; Vivave International Music Festival; International Music Academy in Pilsen, Czech Republic; and the Cambridge International String Academy in Cambridge, England.

About David Byrd-Marrow

Hailed as “stunning and assured” by The New York Times, Atlanta native Byrd-Marrow is the solo hornist of the International Contemporary Ensemble, as well as a member of The Knights. Working with a uniquely wide range of performers, he has premiered works by Anna Webber, Arthur Kampela, George Lewis, Tyshawn Sorey and others. Byrd-Marrow has performed at festivals including the Ojai Music Festival, the Spoleto Music Festival, the Mostly Mozart Festival, the Tanglewood Music Center and more. Formerly a member of Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, he has also made appearances with the New York Philharmonic; the Cleveland Orchestra; the Atlanta, Seattle and Tokyo symphony orchestras; and other orchestras. He has recorded on many labels including Tundra, More Is More, Nonesuch, EMI, Deutsche Grammophon and Naxos. Byrd-Marrow received his Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School and Master of Music from Stony Brook University. He is the assistant professor of horn at the Lamont School of Music, of The University of Denver.

About Alexander Fiterstein

Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein has performed in recital, with distinguished orchestras and with chamber music ensembles throughout the world. He won first prize at the Carl Nielsen International Clarinet Competition and received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant Award. As soloist he has appeared with the Czech, Israel, Vienna and St. Paul chamber orchestras; Belgrade Philharmonic; Danish National Radio Symphony; Tokyo Philharmonic; China National Symphony Orchestra; KBS Orchestra of South Korea; Jerusalem Symphony; Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Lincoln Center; Kansas City Symphony; and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. He has performed in recital on the Music at the Supreme Court Series, the Celebrity Series in Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, The Kennedy Center, the Louvre in Paris, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Tel Aviv Museum and New York City’s 92d Street Y. Fiterstein is a founder of the Zimro Project, a unique ensemble dedicated to incorporating Jewish art music into chamber music programs. A Juilliard graduate, he won first prize at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and received awards from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. He is currently professor of clarinet and chair of winds at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.

About Ieva Jokubaviciute

Lithuanian pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute’s powerfully and intricately crafted performances have earned her critical acclaim throughout North America and Europe. Labor Records released Jokubaviciute’s debut recording in 2010 to international acclaim, which resulted in recitals in New York; Chicago; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Vilnius, Lithuania; and Toulouse, France. She made her orchestral debuts with the Chicago Symphony; in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; with the American Youth Philharmonic in 2016; and in February 2017 as a soloist with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Montevideo in Uruguay. A much sought-after chamber musician and collaborator, Jokubaviciute regularly tours and appears at international music festivals around the world. Jokubaviciute has earned degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and from Mannes College of Music in New York City. Currently, she is associate professor of the practice of piano at Duke University in Durham.

About Kim Kashkashian

Violinist Kim Kashkashian’s work as performing and recording artist and pedagogue has been recognized worldwide. She won a Grammy Award for her recording of Ligeti and Kurtag solo viola works in 2013 and received the George Peabody Medal and Switzerland’s Golden Bow Award for her contributions to music. In 2016, she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2020, was named an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music. As a soloist, Kashkashian has appeared with the orchestras of Berlin, London, Vienna, Milan, New York and others. Recital appearances include the great halls of Vienna, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Tokyo, Athens, London, New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and more. Kashkashian is founder and artistic director of “Music for Food,” a musician-led hunger relief initiative that to date has presented hundreds of artists in concert which have created more than 1.5 million free meals for people in need.

About Eric Koontz

Eric Koontz has led the viola sections of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra before returning to the U.S. to pursue studies toward the Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. An active chamber musician, he was a founding member of the Nayades Trio (flute, harp and viola); the Reinecke Trio (clarinet, viola and piano); and the Quartet Glinka. In Israel, Koontz has performed with Music in the Desert, a festival for new music at Kibbutz Sde Boker. He earned a Bachelor of Music at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and holds a Master of Music and a Master of Musical Arts from Yale University. Koontz joined the string faculty at the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University in 2005 and the faculty of the Brevard Music Center in 2004.

About Axel Strauss

The first German artist to ever win the International Naumburg Violin Award in New York, Axel Strauss made his American debut at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and his New York debut at Alice Tully Hall in 1998. Since then, he has given recitals in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Strauss has performed as a soloist with orchestras in Budapest, Hamburg, New York, Seoul, Shanghai, Bucharest, San Francisco and Cincinnati, among others, and has toured widely throughout the world as a recitalist and chamber musician. Strauss also frequently performs at various music festivals in the U.S. Festival visits abroad have taken him to Germany, India, Korea and Japan. At the age of 17 he won the silver medal at the Enescu Competition in Romania. In 2013, Strauss was appointed professor of violin at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal. Prior to that he served as professor of violin at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

About Brant Taylor

Brant Taylor’s varied career has included solo appearances and collaborations with leading artists in chamber, orchestral, pedagogical and popular music settings on five continents. Before his appointment to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Daniel Barenboim, he was cellist of the Everest Quartet, prizewinners at the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, as well as a member of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. He made his solo debut with the San Antonio Symphony at the age of 14. Taylor frequently combines performance and pedagogy, conducting master classes and writing articles on a wide variety of musical topics. He is a member of the faculty of DePaul University’s School of Music and serves on the board of cellobello.org. Taylor holds a bachelor’s degree and a performer's certificate from the Eastman School of Music, where he won the school's concerto competition and performed as soloist with the Eastman Philharmonia. His master’s degree is from Indiana University. 

About Watson Hall

The Bill and Judy Watson Chamber Music Hall seats 300 and houses two Hamburg Steinway grand pianos and a D. Jacques Way French double manual harpsichord and state-of-the-art lighting, electronic and sound equipment. Designed by Calloway Johnson Moore & West, acoustical engineering firm Acentech and consultant Rein Pirn, the hall serves as the principle performance venue for the School of Music faculty and guest artist concert series, as well as a venue for several student chamber ensembles, graduating college senior recitals and second-year graduate recitals. The shape of the hall echoes the curves of a violin, as well as its wood (a warm, rich color). Black pilasters and sloping wood columns evoke the neck, strings and bridge of the instrument. A special “high volume, low velocity” HVAC system was designed to minimize ambient noise. The hall is also equipped with a recording studio. Since its opening, Watson Hall has been the site of hundreds of performances by faculty, students and guest artists. In 2018 the hall was outfitted with new state-of-the-art cameras and streaming system that allow for livestreaming capability of any concert taking place in the hall. In honor of the 15th anniversary season new wood furniture/sculptures by local artist Robert Kopf, and a large wood relief sculpture by Atlanta artist Tony DiLeo were added. Judy and Bill Watson are long-time residents of Winston-Salem who have a great love for UNCSA students. Because of the Watsons’ generous philanthropy over the years, the hall was named in their honor.

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October 09, 2023