From Classics to Klezmer

Alex Fiterstein, Clarinet | Kristin Lee, Violin | Qian Wu, Piano | Nicholas Canellakis, cello

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sedona Performing Arts Center – 995 Upper Red Rock Loop Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336

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Long-time Sedona friend and favorite Alex Fiterstein headlines a program featuring the rich tradition of Jewish music, journeying from the classical tradition to the wild and fun world of Klezmer, as seen through the soulful voice of the clarinet.

Alex Fiterstein, Clarinet

Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein is recognized for playing that combines flawless technique and consummate musicianship with graceful phrasing and a warm soulful tone. Considered one of today’s most exceptional clarinet players, he has performed in recital and with prestigious orchestras and chamber music ensembles throughout the world. Winner of a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant Award, Mr. Fiterstein has been praised by The New York Times for possessing a “beautiful liquid clarity,” and The Washington Post wrote, “Fiterstein treats his instrument as his own personal voice, dazzling in its spectrum of colors, agility and range. Every sound he makes is finely measured without inhibiting expressiveness.”

In the 2017-18 Season, Mr. Fiterstein performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Laguna Chamber Music Society; performed works by Brahms, Ravel, and Shulamit Ran at the Banff International String Quartet Festival, and was an inaugural guest artist and teacher with the Classical Bridge Music Festival in New York City.

In summer 2017 he performed with the Tesla Quartet, presented a solo recital at Beijing’s Central Conservatory, collaborated with violinist Esther Yoo in Miami, and appeared in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Festival and at ClarinetFest 2017 in Orlando where he performed David Maslanka’s clarinet concerto.

As a soloist, Mr. Fiterstein has appeared with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Lincoln Center, Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Israel Chamber Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, Korea, Polish Chamber Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. He has performed in recital at the National Gallery of Art, the Kennedy Center, the 92nd Street Y, Carnegie’s Weill Hall, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the Louvre in Paris, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, and the Tel-Aviv Museum.

A dedicated performer of chamber music, Mr. Fiterstein frequently collaborates with distinguished musicians and ensembles, and performs at esteemed chamber music festivals and societies. Among the highly regarded artists he has performed with are Daniel Barenboim, Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Pinchas Zukerman and Steven Isserlis; and he has joined the Amernet, Dover, Jerusalem, Mendelssohn, Muir, Pacifica, Shanghai and Vogler string quartets and appeared with Ensemble Wien-Berlin. Mr. Fiterstein was a member of the prestigious Chamber Music Society II of Lincoln Center and continues to perform with the CMS each season. He also participated in the Marlboro Music Festival for five summers and toured with Musicians from Marlboro. Mr. Fiterstein has performed chamber music at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y, the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress in Washington DC, and at the Louvre in Paris; and he has appeared at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival in Germany, the Storioni Festival in Holland, and the Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival.

Mr. Fiterstein is the founder of The Zimro Project, a unique ensemble dedicated to incorporating Jewish art music into chamber music programs that is inspired by the Zimro Ensemble, a group that nurtured the music of Jewish composers and culture nearly a century ago in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Alexander Fiterstein has worked with composers John Corigliano and Osvaldo Golijov and has had pieces written for him by Samuel Adler and Mason Bates, among others. He performed the U.S. premieres of Henrik Strindberg’s Clarinet Concerto “Minne,” Harrison Birtwistle’s “Pulse Shadows” and Paul Schoenfield’s clarinet trio.  A recording of Schoenfield’s trio, performed by Mr. Fiterstein with James Tocco and Yehuda Hanani, was released in May 2010 on the Naxos label.  Mr. Fiterstein’s recordings include an album of clarinet music by Ronn Yedidia released by Naxos and a recording of Weber’s Clarinet Concertos with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra conducted by Martin West released on Bridge Records.

Mr. Fiterstein was born in Belarus. At the age of two, he immigrated with his family to Israel where he later studied at the Israel Arts and Science Academy. After attending the Interlochen Arts Academy, Mr. Fiterstein graduated from the Juilliard School, his teachers include Charles Neidich, Eli Heifetz, Richard Hawkins, Sidney Forrest, Mordechai Rechtman and Ayako Oshima. He is the first prize winner of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, the Carl Nielsen International Clarinet Competition, and the “Aviv” competitions in Israel; and he is the recipient of numerous awards from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and the Bunkamura Orchard Hall Award (Tokyo). Mr. Fiterstein taught at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (2010- 2017) and began his new appointment as Clarinet Professor at the Peabody Conservatory in September 2017. 

Kristin Lee, Violin

A recipient of the 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, as well as a top prizewinner of the 2012 Walter W. Naumburg Competition and the Astral Artists’ 2010 National Auditions, Kristin Lee is a violinist of remarkable versatility and impeccable technique who enjoys a vibrant career as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and educator. “Her technique is flawless, and she has a sense of melodic shaping that reflects an artistic maturity,” writes the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Strad reports, “She seems entirely comfortable with stylistic diversity, which is one criterion that separates the run-of-the-mill instrumentalists from true artists.”

In addition to her dynamic performing career,  Lee was recently appointed to the faculty of University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music as Assistant Professor of Violin. She is the artistic director of Emerald City Music, a chamber music series she co-founded in 2015, that presents authentically unique concert experiences and bridges the divide between the highest caliber classical music and the many diverse communities of the Puget Sound region of Washington State.

Kristin Lee has appeared as soloist with leading orchestras including The Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, New Mexico Symphony, West Virginia Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Tacoma Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Nordic Chamber Orchestra of Sweden, Ural Philharmonic of Russia, Korean Broadcasting Symphony, Guiyang Symphony Orchestra of China, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional of Dominican Republic, and many others. She has performed on the world’s finest concert stages, including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Kennedy Center, Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Steinway Hall’s Salon de Virtuosi, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Ravinia Festival, Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live, (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York, the Louvre Museum in Paris, Washington, D.C.’s Phillips Collection, and Korea’s Kumho Art Gallery.

An accomplished chamber musician, Kristin Lee is a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, performing at Lincoln Center in New York and on tour with CMS throughout each season. For seven years, Lee was a principal artist of Camerata Pacifica in Santa Barbara, sitting as The Bernard Gondos Chair. She is also concertmaster of  the Nu Deco Ensemble in Miami, Florida, and is a member of Steve Coleman’s Natal Eclipse, a hybrid chamber-jazz ensemble that explores the very foundations of group improvisation and spontaneous composition. Lee has also appeared in chamber music programs at Music@Menlo, La Jolla Festival, Medellín Festicámara of Colombia, the El Sistema Chamber Music festival of Venezuela, the Sarasota Music Festival, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern of Germany, the Hong Kong Chamber Music Festival and the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, among many others.

Recent and upcoming highlights include performances presented by the San Francisco Symphony with Itzhak Perlman, Amarillo Symphony, Chamber Music Sedona, a tour with the Silk Road Ensemble, Music@Menlo, Parlance Chamber Concerts, Moab Music Festival, Town Hall Seattle, Lyra Music Festival, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Olympic Music Festival, North Carolina New Music Initiative, and the Leicester International Music Festival, as well as performances with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Camerata Pacifica.

Lee’s performances have been broadcast on PBS’s “Live from Lincoln Center,” the Kennedy Center Honors, WFMT Chicago’s “Rising Stars” series, WRTI in Philadelphia, and on WQXR in New York. She also appeared on Perlman in Shanghai, a nationally broadcast PBS documentary that chronicled a historic cross‑cultural exchange between the Perlman Music Program and Shanghai Conservatory. She made the world premiere recording of Vivian Fung’s Violin Concerto, written for her, which won a Juno Award and is available on Naxos.

Lee’s many honors include awards from the 2015 Trondheim Chamber Music Competition, 2011 Trio di Trieste Premio International Competition, the SYLFF Fellowship, Dorothy DeLay Scholarship, the Aspen Music Festival’s Violin Competition, the New Jersey Young Artists’ Competition, and the Salon de Virtuosi Scholarship Foundation. She is also the unprecedented First Prize winner of three concerto competitions at The Juilliard School – in the Pre-College Division in 1997 and 1999, and in the College Division in 2007.

Born in Seoul, Lee began studying the violin at the age of five, and within one year won First Prize at the prestigious Korea Times Violin Competition. In 1995, she moved to the United States and continued her musical studies under Sonja Foster. Two years later, she became a student of Catherine Cho and Dorothy DeLay in The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division. In January 2000, she was chosen to study with Itzhak Perlman after he heard her perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with Juilliard’s Pre-College Symphony Orchestra. Lee holds a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School, where she studied with Itzhak Perlman and Donald Weilerstein, and served as an assistant teacher for Perlman’s studio as a Starling Fellow. She has served on the faculties of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, the LG Chamber Music School in Seoul, Korea, El Sistema’s chamber music festival in Caracas, Venezuela, and the Music@Menlo Chamber Music Festival.

For more information, visit www.violinistkristinlee.com.

Qian Wu, Piano

Selected as the classical music bright young star for 2007 by the Independent Newspaper, Wu Qian was born in Shanghai, where she received her early training before being invited to study at the Yehudi Menuhin School. At fifteen she performed Mozart’s E flat Major concerto (K449) in the Queen Elizabeth Hall and again at the Menuhin Festival in Switzerland. She also played the Saint-Saens Concerto No.2 with the Philharmonia Orchestra in St. John’s Smith Square. She made her debut recital at the South Bank Purcell Room in 2000 and has since played there again on several occasions, including a recital broadcast by BBC Radio 3.

Qian has given recitals throughout Europe including the Steinway Halls of Hamburg where her performance was broadcast throughout Asia. Other international engagements have included appearances at the Steinway Hall in New York, the Hong Kong City Hall, the Koblenz Festival in Germany, the Santander International Festival, the Yale Summer Music Festival. In the UK Qian has appeared at the Wigmore, Royal Festival and Bridgewater Halls, the Harrogate, Grassington, Norfolk and Norwich festivals, the London Chopin Festival and many others.

Qian regularly appears in many articles, radio and television programs including being interviewed on BBC 4 and BBC World. Her concerts have been broadcast by NHK for Japan, Phoenix TV for China as well as BBC Radio 3 in the UK.

Qian’s debut recording of works by Schumann, Liszt and the young composer Alexander Prior was released in April 2009 on the Dal Segno label to world-wide acclaim, drawing comparisons to many of the great pianists of the last century. In the same year, Qian represented China in the Europalia festival performing Chopin’s 2nd piano concerto with the Brussels Philharmonic in a tour of Belgium.

Future plans include a new CD release with works by Schumann and future engagements in England, Italy, Norway and Germany. This season she has made her recital debut at the Chamber Hall of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and has performed other recitals in Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Padova and Koblenz. She has just returned from performing the “Yellow River” Concerto at the Toronto Center for the Arts in Canada.

In 2011, Qian was awarded the 1st prize at the Trio di Trieste Duo Competition with Alexander Sitkovetsky.

Qian is also a founding member of the Sitkovetsky Trio, with which she has performed all over the UK and Europe, including the Beethoven Triple with the Munich Symphoniker and the Orchestra of the Swan. The trio was awarded the prestigious 2009 NORDMETALL-ensemble Prize at the Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festival and the 1st prize at the Kommerzbank Trio competition in Frankfurt. It has performed in numerous concert halls and Festivals in the UK and abroad including the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, the Chamber Hall of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw as well as the Wigmore Hall in London. Future plans include the Beethoven Triple with the Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin as well as further regular appearances at the Wigmore Hall.

Qian is supported by the Keyboard Charitable Trust.

Nicholas Canellakis, cello

Hailed by the New Yorker as a “superb young soloist,” Nicholas Canellakis has become one of the most sought-after and innovative cellists of his generation. Canellakis’s recent highlights include a Carnegie Hall concerto debut with the American Symphony Orchestra; concerto appearances with the Albany Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, Pan-European Philharmonia in Greece, and New Haven Symphony as Artist-in-Residence; and a recital of American cello-piano works at New York’s Lincoln Center. His 2018-19 season includes solo debuts with the Lansing, Bangor, and Delaware symphony orchestras; Europe and Asia tours with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, including appearances in London’s Wigmore Hall, the Louvre in Paris, the Seoul Arts Center, and the Shanghai and Taipei National Concert Halls; and recitals throughout the United States with his long-time duo collaborator, pianist-composer Michael Brown. Canellakis is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and is a regular guest at many of the world’s leading music festivals, including Santa Fe, Ravinia, Music@Menlo, Bard, La Jolla, Bridgehampton, Hong Kong, Moab, Music in the Vineyards, and Saratoga Springs. He was recently appointed the prestigious position of Artistic Director of Chamber Music Sedona. Filmmaking and acting are special interests of Mr. Canellakis. He has produced, directed, and starred in several short films and music videos, including his popular comedy web series “Conversations with Nick Canellakis.”