About the Artists
Tessa Lark, violin
Violinist Tessa Lark has been consistently praised for her astounding range of sounds, technical agility, and musical elegance. A 2020 Grammy nominee in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category, Silver Medalist in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, recipient of a 2018 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and a 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant, and winner of the 2012 Naumburg International Violin Competition, she is also an acclaimed fiddler in the tradition of her native Kentucky. Since her concerto debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at age 16 Lark has performed with numerous prominent orchestras, recital venues, and festivals including Carnegie Hall, Marlboro Music, and Lincoln Center. Three recordings featuring her were released in 2019: her solo debut album Fantasy, comprising her own Appalachian Fantasy and a variety of classic works in fantasia form; the Grammy-nominated SKY, whose title selection is a bluegrass-inspired violin concerto written for her by Michael Torke; and Invention, the debut album of her violin-bass duo Tessa Lark & Michael Thurber. Planned for release in the 2021-22 season is The Stradgrass Sessions, an album featuring Lark in solo works by Corigliano and Ysaÿe and in duo collaborations with bassist Edgar Meyer, pianist Jon Batiste, fiddler Michael Cleveland, and mandolinist Sierra Hull. Lark is a graduate of New England Conservatory and holds an artist diploma from The Juilliard School.
Teddy Abrams, piano
An unusually versatile musician, Teddy Abrams is the widely-acclaimed Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra and Music Director and Conductor of the Britt Festival Orchestra. A tireless advocate for the power of music, Abrams has fostered interdisciplinary collaborations with organizations including the Louisville Ballet, the Center for Interfaith Relations, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Speed Art Museum, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. His rap-opera, The Greatest: Muhammad Ali, premiered in 2017, celebrating Louisville’s hometown hero with an all-star cast that included Rhiannon Giddens and Jubilant Sykes. Abrams’ work with the Louisville Orchestra has been profiled on CBS News Sunday Morning, NPR, and in The Wall Street Journal.
Abrams recently collaborated with Jim James, vocalist and guitarist for My Morning Jacket, on the song cycle The Order of Nature, which they premiered with the Louisville Orchestra in 2018 and recorded on Decca Gold. Additional highlights of the 2019-20 season included his debut as guest conductor with Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, and the lead role in the Kennedy Center Honors celebration of his mentor Michael Tilson Thomas.
Recent guest conducting highlights include engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; the San Francisco, National, Houston, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Vancouver, Colorado, Utah, and Phoenix Symphonies; Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; and the Florida Orchestra. He served as Assistant Conductor of the Detroit Symphony from 2012-2014.
From 2008 to 2011, Abrams was the Conducting Fellow and Assistant Conductor of the New World Symphony (NWS). He has conducted the NWS in Miami Beach, Washington, D.C. and at Carnegie Hall, and recently returned to conduct the NWS on subscription with Joshua Bell as soloist.
An accomplished pianist and clarinetist, Abrams has appeared as a soloist with a number of orchestras—including play-conducting the Ravel Piano Concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony in 2017 and the Jacksonville Symphony in 2013—and has performed chamber music with the St. Petersburg String Quartet, Menahem Pressler, Gilbert Kalish, Time for Three, and John Adams, in addition to annual appearances at the Olympic Music Festival. Dedicated to exploring new and engaging ways to communicate with a diverse range of audiences, Abrams co-founded the Sixth Floor Trio in 2008. Together, they founded and direct GardenMusic, the music festival of the world-renowned Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami; they continue to tour regularly throughout the U.S.
Abrams was a protégé of Michael Tilson Thomas from the age of eleven, and studied conducting with Otto-Werner Mueller and Ford Lallerstedt at the Curtis Institute of Music, and with David Zinman at the Aspen Music Festival; he was the youngest conducting student ever accepted at both institutions. Abrams is also an award-winning composer and a passionate educator. His 2009 Education Concerts with the New World Symphony (featuring the world premiere of one of Abrams’ own orchestral works) were webcast to hundreds of schools throughout South Florida.
Abrams performed as a keyboardist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, won the 2007 Aspen Composition Contest, and was the Assistant Conductor of the YouTube Symphony at Carnegie Hall in 2009. He has held residencies at the La Mortella music festival in Ischia, Italy and at the American Academy in Berlin. Teddy was a proud member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra for seven seasons, and graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music, having studied piano with Paul Hersh.
Frank Vignola, jazz guitar
Frank Vignola is one of the most extraordinary guitarists performing before the public today. His stunning virtuosity has made him the guitarist of choice for many of the world’s top musicians, including Ringo Starr, Madonna, Donald Fagen, Wynton Marsalis, Tommy Emmanuel, John Lewis, the Boston Pops, the New York Pops, and guitar legend Les Paul, who named Vignola to his “Five Most Admired Guitarists List” for the Wall Street Journal. Vignola’s jaw-dropping technique explains why the New York Times deemed him “one of the brightest…stars of the guitar”.
“There is little in this world so awe-inspiring as witnessing total mastery of a musical instrument. Like seeing Yo-Yo Ma play the cello or Placido Damingo belt out an aria – sometimes a performer’s perfection can elevate a piece of music to heights beyond the realm of imagination. By all accounts, Frank Vignola conjures just that sort of magic with his acoustic guitar.” – Matt Cauthron – Intermission Magazine
“Vignola, who possesses jaw-dropping technique, wears his influences on the tip of his pick” – Mike Joyce – Washington Post
“A spectacular sold out concert ushered in the 7th year of Jazz at the Powerhouse.” – Mary Johnson – Baltimore Sun
“One of the brightest…stars of the guitar” – New York Times