This season’s guest artists come to us from around the world—and right here in Tucson.
Sandra Wright Shen
Sandra Wright Shen has been described as a classical “pianist of the first order” and a “heartstopping beauty.” With her passion, musicality, and inspiration, she aims to move hearts through music.
Sandra has appeared at the Kennedy Music Center in DC, the Chicago Cultural Center, Monte Carlo Opera House, the Frankfurt Cultural Center in Germany, the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, and the Taiwan National Concert Hall. Sandra won first prize in the 2012 International Piano Competition of France. She also won first prizes in the 1997 Hilton Head International Piano Competition, the Mieczyslaw Munz Piano Competition, the Taiwan National Piano Competition, and the Peabody Frances M. Wentz Memorial Prize.
She has recorded three CDs, debuting with Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto.
Sandra received her BM and MM in piano performance from the Peabody Conservatory under Ann Schein. She has also trained with Zalina Gurevich, Oleg Barsov and Thomas Laratta. Sandra is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Furman University. She is also on the piano faculty at the Brevard Music Festival and Masterworks Festival, and previously taught at Southern Illinois University. Sandra is a Steinway artist.
Mixing music and philanthropy, Sandra has played benefit concerts for disaster victims, foster children, and music education, and serves as honorary advisor for the Young Music Foundation. An ambassador of classical music, Sandra filmed a four-part series titled The Movements of the Master Pianists for Hong Kong TV. She also hosted a classical radio program in Taiwan. Because of her ability to touch people’s hearts with music, and through her sweet, positive spirit, audiences throughout the world have declared her “an angel.”
Gabriele Pezone studied piano under the guidance of Antonio Luciani, graduating from the Latina “Ottorino Respighi” Conservatory having also studied choral music and choir conducting, organ and composition. He also attended courses in liturgical ministries of the Diocese of Rome.
He has conducted the Corelli Chamber Orchestra (Italy), Vidin State Philharmonic Orchestra (Bulgaria), Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de Mexico (Mexico), Fedele Fenaroli International Youth Orchestra in Lanciano (Italy), Lomza Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra (Poland), Orquesta Sinfónica de la Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo León (Mexico), Kalisz Philharmonc Orchestra (Poland), Orkestra Akademik Baskent in Ankara (Turkey), Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatan (Mexico), Camerata de Coahuila (Mexico), the San Severo Theater Orchestra and Giovane Orchestra d’Abruzzo (Italy).
He also directed Verdi’s La Traviata at the Manzoni Theater in Cassino and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the D’Annunzio Theater of Latina.
Pezone founded the Fondi Chamber Orchestra (with which he has recorded for Vatican Radio with the Italian-American pianist Natalie Gabrielli), and established the SoundTrack Ensemble, an instrumental group made up of young musicians, springing from a project by the Giuseppe de Santis movie association. He is a member of the Commission for Sacred Music and Liturgical Chant of the Archdiocese of Gaeta. He is the president of the Ferruccio Busoni and Sergei Rachmaninoff music associations, which have organized dozens of cultural events.
He is the artistic director of the Fondi Music Festival and a member of the International Campus of Music in Latina. Pezone was the artistic director of Fondi’s Cultural Week and musical director of a “love rock musical” opera presented in Poland in 2009.
Pezone’s interest in global sounds led him to become be the accordionist of the folk group Città di Fondi, which, in 2011, won the Best Music Award at the International Nicosia Folk Dance Festival in Cyprus.
Marta Magdalena Lelek
Marta Magdalena Lelek is recognized as one of today’s best Polish concert violinists, described by reviewers as “stunning listeners with breathtaking technique,” “intense,” and “thrilling the audience with the most beautiful sound.” Her performances often introduce interesting, rarely performed, often contemporary compositions. Her repertoire includes violin concertos by Benjamin Britten, William Walton, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Alban Berg, Igor Stravinsky, Samuel Barber, Ferrucio Busoni, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Carl Nielsen, Yevgen Stankovych, Andrzej Panufnik and David Tukici. Karl Fiorini wrote for and dedicated to her his Violin Concerto No. 2, the world premiere of which took place in May 2012 in Bangkok with the National Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra; she recorded it in 2012 for Naxos.
At the age of nine she began her music education under the head of the string department at the Academy of Music in Katowice. In 1999 she was invited to begin her higher education at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. In 2003 she was awarded her bachelor’s degree (with honors), and two years later a master’s degree with distinction in performance. As a student, she perfected her skills under Sir Colin Davis, Jordi Savall, the Takács Quartet, Wanda Wiłkomirska, Jose Luis Garcia Asencio, and many more.
Marta Magdalena Lelek performs extensively as a soloist with symphony and chamber orchestras in Europe (Poland, Italy, Albania, France, Ukraine, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic), Asia, North and South America and Australia. She has performed with, among others, the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de Mexico, Thailand National Philharmonic Orchestra in Bangkok, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Albanian National Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra, and Cracow Philharmonic Orchestra.
Edwin E. Soo Kim
Born in Korea, Edwin Eun Soo Kim began studying the violin at age 7 and won a local music competition a year later. He has since won several international competitions. After high school he moved to Vienna to continue his violin studies. He has soloed with numerous orchestras, performed recitals in Asia and Europe and released several recordings. His debut in the Berlin Philharmonie in 2007 was highly successful and he was invited back to perform the Mendelssohn, Dvorák and Tchaikovsky concertos. His debut with the Khachaturian concerto in Seoul was enthusiastically received. Currently, he is professor at Hanyang University in Seoul and lead soloist for the annual Lech Classic Music Festival at Lech am Arlberg, in western Austria.
The Vienna-based pianist Melanie Moon-Young Chae studied at the Purcell School and the Royal College of Music in London. During her training she received numerous scholarships. Among her awards have been first prizes at the International Zinetti Chamber Music Competition and the Maria Canals Competition and second prizes at the Concorso Internazionale Città di Pinerolo and the Beethoven Competition, as well as a special prize at the Concorso Internazionale di Provincia di Caltanissetta.
Melanie has found appropriate settings for her performances in such locations as the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Vienna Musikverein and the Purcell Room in London. She has given concerts as a soloist and together with her husband, Edwin E. S. Kim, in Vienna, London, Lindau, Koblenz, Seoul, and Hannover. She has been an accompanist at the Queen Elisabeth Competition, Tchaikovsky Competition, Seoul International Music Competition and Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition Hannover.
Melanie also devotes herself to chamber music. She has collaborated with personalities such as Boris Kuschnir, Pavel Vernikov and Igor Ozim and has shared the stage with Julian Rachlin, Lidia Baich and Alisa Weilerstein. She has recently had engagements for extensive concert tours in Austria, Korea and Germany.
Zoran Stilin is a native of Zagreb, Croatia and a prize-winner of the former Yugoslavia National Cello Competition. He was a performing soloist with the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, the Radio-Television Orchestra, Music Academy Symphony Orchestra, and Gaudemus Chamber Orchestra.
Zoran continued his studies in Switzerland, and later the University of Arizona, where he received a Master of Music under the direction of Gordon Epperson and Peter Rejto. During this time in Arizona is when Zoran first developed his skills as a restorer and maker of fine string instruments. He was a student of the late Karl Roy, German violin maker and one of the world’s leading authorities on violin making.
By combining his passion for music and fine instruments, Zoran offers a complete approach to instrument making and repair. His instruments and bows have won top awards at the Violin Makers Association of Arizona International Competition. He is a member of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra; principal cellist of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, with which he has performed as a soloist in previous years; and an active solo and chamber musician. In this concert, he will be performing on his latest-made cello.
Hong-Mei Xiao was the first-prize winner of the Geneva International Music Competition. Her extraordinary artistry and brilliant virtuoso technique have gained accolades from critics across the globe. The Geneva Tribune heralded her performance as “overwhelmingly masterful.” The Sunday Telegraph praised her recording as “extraordinary technically and expressively,” and the Ha’aretz declared, “The soloist Hong-Mei Xiao was wondrous.”
A recipient of the coveted Patek Philippe Grand Prize, Hong-Mei Xiao has made an international career as a soloist with performances in major concert halls and with orchestras of the greatest distinction throughout the world. She was honored as a United States Artistic Ambassador. She is also the featured soloist in the Naoxs world-premiere recording of the original and revised versions of the Bartók Viola Concerto, which has won rave reviews and international critical acclaim since its release. Recent activities include making a CD recording of viola works by Walton, Vaughan Williams and Bax with the Budapest Symphony, recital appearances, and serving as an adjudicator at the 2013 Lionel Tertis International Viola Festival and Competition in the United Kingdom. Her CD of the complete works for viola and orchestra by Ernest Bloch, which features her own transcription of the Baal Shem Suite, was released in June 2013 by Naxos.
Born into a musical family in China, Ms. Xiao began her violin study with her father, Xiao Heng, a well-known composer. During the years of her musical training, she was frequently engaged in public performances in China. After graduating from the Shanghai Conservatory with highest honors, she was distinguished as the only musician in Asia to receive the Asian Cultural Council Award. She completed her musical training in the United States with violist John Graham and received her Master of Music degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Ms. Xiao is currently on the faculty at the University of Arizona School of Music. Previously she was a faculty member at the University of Michigan. She has also served as the principal violist of the Minnesota Orchestra, and has taught at the Eastman School of Music as a visiting professor.
Silver medalist of the 2008 Ima Hogg Competition, Chloé Trevor is one of the rising stars on today’s international violin scene. Critics have acclaimed Chloé for her “dazzling technique,” “excellent musicianship,” “huge tone,” “poise and professional grace” and “a bold personality unafraid to exult in music and ability.” She has appeared as a soloist with several orchestras, including the Knoxville Symphony, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Latvian Chamber Orchestra, Houston Symphony and the Slovak State Philharmonic. Further performances include solo appearances in New York at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, a tour with the Latvian Chamber Orchestra in Riga, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Dallas Symphony, and Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto at Sala São Paulo in Brazil and with the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra as a result of winning the Cleveland Institute of Music’s 2007 Concerto Competition.
Chloé was the grand prize winner at the 2006 Lynn Harrell Competition, the 2005 Lennox Competition, the 2003 Dallas Symphonic Festival Competition and the 2000 Collin County Young Artists Competition. She has been a featured violinist in the Music in the Mountains Festival in Colorado, at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas and with the Missouri Symphony Orchestra. She was also chosen to perform on the nationally syndicated From the Top radio program.
Chloé was introduced to the violin at age 2 by her mother, Heidi Trevor Itashiki, a Dallas Symphony violinist. She later studied with Arkady Fomin, a Dallas Symphony violinist and artistic director of the New Conservatory of Dallas. She completed her undergraduate degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and her graduate degree as a scholarship student at Rice University studying with Kenneth Goldsmith.
Chloé plays on a Carlos Landolfi violin made in Italy in 1771, and is on faculty at the Music in the Mountains Conservatory.