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Alessio Bax catapulted to prominence with First Prize wins at both the Leeds and Hamamatsu International Piano Competitions. He has appeared with more than 150 orchestras, including the London, Royal, and St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestras, the Boston, Dallas, and Sydney Symphonies, and the NHK Symphony in Japan, collaborating with such eminent conductors as Marin Alsop, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Simon Rattle, Yuri Temirkanov, and Jaap van Zweden. He released his 11th Signum Classics album, Italian Inspirations, whose program was also the vehicle for his solo recital debut at New York’s 92nd Street Y as well as on tour. He and his regular piano duo partner, Lucille Chung, have given recitals at Lincoln Center and were featured with the St. Louis Symphony and Stéphane Denève. This season he makes his debut with the Milwaukee Symphony, and will return for the fourth time for two recitals at the historic Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. Last summer he made return appearances at the Seattle Chamber Music Festival and at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival with the Dallas Symphony and Fabio Luisi conducting. At age 14, Bax graduated with top honors from the conservatory of Bari, his hometown in Italy, and after further studies in Europe, he moved to the United States in 1994. A Steinway artist, he lives in New York City with pianist Lucille Chung and their daughter, Mila. He is a former member of CMS’s Bowers Program and on the faculty at the New England Conservatory.
Violinist Ani Kavafian enjoys a prolific career as a soloist, chamber musician, and professor. She has performed with many of America’s leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony. In the 2019-20 season, she continued her longtime association as an artist of the Chamber Music Society with appearances in New York and on tour. Last summer she participated in several music festivals, including the Heifetz International Institute and the Sarasota Chamber Music, Bridgehampton, Meadowmount, Norfolk, and Angel Fire festivals. She and her sister, violinist and violist Ida Kavafian, have performed with the symphonies of Detroit, Colorado, Tucson, San Antonio, and Cincinnati, and have recorded the music of Mozart and Sarasate on the Nonesuch label. She is a Full Professor at Yale University and has appeared at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall numerous times with colleagues and students from Yale. She has received an Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions award and has appeared at the White House on three occasions. Her recordings can be heard on the Nonesuch, RCA, Columbia, Arabesque, and Delos labels. Born in Istanbul of Armenian heritage, Kavafian studied violin in the US with Ara Zerounian and Mischa Mischakoff. She received her master’s degree from The Juilliard School under Ivan Galamian. She plays the 1736 Muir McKenzie Stradivarius violin.
Violinist/violist Yura Lee is a multifaceted musician, as a soloist and as a chamber musician, and one of the very few that is equally virtuosic on both violin and viola. She has performed with major orchestras including those of New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. She has given recitals in London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Salzburg’s Mozarteum, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. At age 12, she became the youngest artist ever to receive the Debut Artist of the Year prize at the Performance Today awards given by National Public Radio. She is the recipient of a 2007 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the first prize winner of the 2013 ARD Competition. She has received numerous other international prizes, including top prizes in the Mozart, Indianapolis, Hannover, Kreisler, Bashmet, and Paganini competitions. Her CD Mozart in Paris, with Reinhard Goebel and the Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie, received the prestigious Diapason d’Or Award. As a chamber musician, she regularly takes part in the festivals of Seattle, Marlboro, Salzburg, Verbier, and Caramoor. Her main teachers included Dorothy DeLay, Hyo Kang, Miriam Fried, Paul Biss, Thomas Riebl, Ana Chumachenko, and Nobuko Imai. An alum of CMS's Bowers Program, Lee is on the faculty at the USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles. She lives in Los Angeles with her dog Nugget.
Acclaimed for his inspirational performances and eloquent musicianship, Paul Watkins enjoys a remarkably varied and distinguished career as soloist, chamber musician, and conductor. He is the Artistic Director of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, and in 2019 he was appointed Professor of Cello at the Yale School of Music. He has performed as concerto soloist with prestigious orchestras throughout the world under eminent conductors including Bernard Haitink, Paavo Berglund, Leonard Slatkin, Sakari Oramo, Gianandrea Noseda, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Charles Mackerras, Andris Nelsons, Edo de Waart, Hannu Lintu and Vasily Petrenko. A dedicated chamber musician, Paul was a member of the Nash Ensemble from 1997 until 2013, when he joined the Emerson String Quartet. With the Quartet he has travelled extensively, performing at major international festivals including Tanglewood, Aspen, Ravinia, Edinburgh, Berlin, and Evian, and has collaborated with artists such as Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Evgeny Kissin, Renée Fleming, and Barbara Hannigan. He is a regular guest artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
He took first prize in the 2002 Leeds Conducting Competition, and has held the positions of Music Director of the English Chamber Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra. In recent seasons he made his conducting debuts with the Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, and Omaha Symphony. His extensive discography as a cellist includes more than 70 recordings, including 18 solo albums for Chandos. His first recording as a conductor, of the Britten and Berg violin concertos with Daniel Hope, received a Grammy nomination.
Paul’s future plans include solo performances and recordings with, among others, Alessio Bax, Anthony Marwood, Lawrence Power, Leila Josefowicz, Edward Gardner, and Sir Andrew Davis. He is also in demand as a visiting teacher and has residencies this season at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin.
Recorded live in Alice Tully Hall on January 29, 2017.
Video produced by Ibis Productions.