Summer Solstice Music Festival Artists
June 18–21, 2015
Described as creating a “mesmerizing musical experience” by combining his “deep personal connection” (Toronto Live Music Report), praised for a “luscious tone and technical prowess” (Vancouver Sun), cellist Ariel Barnes is internationally recognized for his unique tone and passionate performances.
Equally comfortable in musical languages from the Baroque to music of modern times, he performs programs that range from evenings of unaccompanied Bach to world premières of contemporary art music. He has been hailed as a “rising star” by the Georgia Straight and “a musician of real stature” by the Vancouver Sun.
His solo and chamber music recordings have been nominated for a Juno Award and two Western Canadian Music Awards. One half of the contemporary music duo Couloir, Ariel is actively involved in the development of 21st century art music. Couloir recently released their debut CD, Wine Dark Sea on Ravello Records, showcasing world première recordings of original compositions written especially for this beautiful and rare combination of cello and harp.
As a winner of the 2012 Canada Council Instrument Bank Competition, he was awarded the use, for three years, of the 1730 Newland Joannes Franciscus Celoniatus cello, made in Turin, Italy. In January 2013 Ariel was appointed Principal Cello of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
Sara Davis Buechner
Sara Davis Buechner enjoys a vibrant international performance and recording career as a musician of “intelligence, integrity and all-encompassing technical prowess” (New York Times); “fascinating and astounding virtuosity” (Philippine Star); and “thoughtful artistry in the full service of music.” (Washington Post)
She established her early career as winner of a bouquet of prizes at the world’s great piano competitions, including the Gold Medal of the 1984 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, and a Bronze Medal in the 1986 Tschaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow.
With an active repertoire of over 100 piano concertos ranging from Bach to Wuorinen, she has appeared as soloist with many of the world’s prominent orchestras: New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, San Francisco, Vancouver, the CBC Radio Orchestra, Japan Philharmonic, Birmingham (U.K.), BBC Philharmonic, Kuopio (Finland), Slovak Philharmonic and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León (Spain). The New York Times greeted CD of piano music by Rudolf Friml as a “revelation,” and devoted the front page of its Sunday Arts & Leisure section to her 1997 world première recording of the Bach-Busoni Goldberg Variations.
Ms. Buechner’s versatility extends to many premières of new music and collaborations with film and dance projects. A former faculty member of New York University, she has presented lectures and master classes worldwide.
Now a Canadian resident, Sara Davis Buechner is Associate Professor of Music at the University of British Columbia School in Vancouver. She is a principal classical music consultant to Dover Publications, and plays the Yamaha Piano exclusively.
photo: Anna Keenan
The summer of 2015 sees Denise return to her hometown of Halifax for performances with the Scotia Festival of Music, appear at the Toronto Summer Music Festival and work with the National Youth Orchestra in Kitchener as a faculty member. Recent engagements include performances of one of her signature pieces, Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with both the Victoria Symphony (Texas) and the Thunder Bay Symphony, Gulda’s Cello Concerto with the Edmonton Symphony and Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Kingston Symphony. She also appeared at the Prince Edward County Music Festival in a recital with pianist Stéphane Lemelin and in Vermont’s Killington Music Festival as both a Faculty member and performer.
Denise’s discography includes the recently released disc of Chopin and Rachmaninoff sonatas with her long-time recital partner, pianist David Jalbert (ATMA), the complete Britten Solo Suites for Cello (ATMA), her highly acclaimed self-titled CD featuring works by Barber, Martinü and Britten (SONY) which received the 2002 East Coast Music Award, and Juno-nominated Folklore (Allegro/Endeavor), which was honoured with an East Coast Music Award and hit the Billboard Chart’s Top 15 Classical CDs.
Hailed as one of the most exciting, innovative and respected erhu masters today, the Gemini Award-nominated George Gao began studying the erhu at the age of six. The recipient of several awards as a young student, he continued his studies at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the Royal Conservatory in Music in Toronto. After winning First Prize in the Beijing National Erhu Competition, he embarked on an international performing career with tours to North America, Europe and Asia.
An enthusiast of many musical styles, George organized the Beijing rock group Red Maple Leaf, and the pop group Snowman. He has performed with many world music artists including Jesse Cook, Donald Quan, Ron Korb, and ensembles such as Bowfire, Silk Orchestra, the George Gao Ensemble, and Memento. He has pioneered the development of new music for the erhu, fusing traditional Chinese music with jazz, western Classical music, New Age, and ethnic music from diverse cultures.
George Gao is also much in demand as a session player and is featured on the soundtrack for the popular science fiction television program, Earth: Final Conflict. He has also written music for several films. In 2003 he collaborated with composer Brian Keane on the score for the award-winning PBS documentary Becoming American, the Chinese Experience. He co-composed and recorded music for two notable short documentary films, The Blood of Yingzhou District, awarded an Oscar in 2006, and The Warriors of Qiugang, nominated for an Oscar in 2011.
George Gao is currently a professor in residence at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Art and a guest professor at several conservatories of music in China, Taiwan and Japan. He is also the guest concertmaster of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra.
Uniquely combining the superlative technique of a classical virtuoso with prowess in jazz, world music and free improvisation, the pianist, composer and arranger Matt Herskowitz has carved out a unique and personal voice in music. Over the course of the last decade, Matt has produced a series of critically-acclaimed recordings, premiered his works in settings from New York’s Central Park to Germany’s Köln Philharmonie, collaborated with top classical, jazz, and pop artists, and performed at music festivals across the globe.
His newest release, Matt Herskowitz Upstairs for Justin Time Records, was named “Solo Album of the Year” by Le Devoir and an “Editor’s Pick” in Downbeat magazine. As an arranger, Matt has collaborated with many noted artists and producers. In addition to his hugely popular Bach à la Jazz, Matt and his trio were featured on Barry Manilow’s Grammy-nominated In the Swing of Christmas.
Matt recently recorded an album, due for release in the fall of 2015, with renowned violinist Lara St. John. The album features new compositions and arrangements based on Eastern European folk songs. It includes his composition Nagilara, based on the famous Jewish folk song Hava Nagila.
A graduate of the Juilliard School in New York and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Matt is originally from Rensselaerville, New York, and has lived in Montreal since 1999.
photo: Vitality Images
A graduate of the University of Alberta, Brian studied with Forrest Clark and Earl Hatch in Los Angeles.
He has performed with numerous orchestras and ensembles, including the Capetown Symphony Orchestra in South Africa, and won first prize at the Percussion Arts Society Timpani Competition for Southern California.
Brian served as Stage Manager for the ESO for five seasons. He is on the staff of the University of Alberta and the Cosmopolitan Music Society of Edmonton.
photo: Bo Huang
Ms. Li is also an active recitalist and chamber musician, participating in the festivals of Marlboro, Santa Fe, Mostly Mozart, Music from Angel Fire, Rome, Moritzburg (Germany) and the Rising Stars Festival in Caramoor.
She has performed with the Guarneri Quartet in New York (04/05), at Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall) and with the 92nd St. “Y” Chamber Music Society. Teng was also featured with the Guarneri Quartet in their last season (2009), and was also a member of the prestigious Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society Two Program.
Ms Li has won top Prizes at the Johanson International and the Holland-America Music Society competitions, the Primrose International Viola Competition, the Irving M. Klein International String Competition and the ARD International Music Competition in Munich, Germany. She was also a winner of the Astral Artistic Services 2003 National Auditions.
Teng is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Jasmine Lin has appeared as soloist with orchestras around the world. She was a prizewinner in the International Paganini Competition and took second prize in the International Naumburg Competition. The New York Times describes her as an "unusually individualistic player" with "electrifying assertiveness" and "virtuosic abandon."
She has been an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University and DePaul University and was a faculty member of the Taos School of Music in New Mexico.
Ms. Lin is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music. She gave her New York debut in Merkin Hall, where the program included her poetry set to music. Her poem The night of h’s received Editor’s Choice Award from the International Poetry Foundation.
Ms. Lin is a member of Trio Voce, which has released two CDs; Inscapes and In a New Light. Ms. Lin is also a founding and current member of the Formosa Quartet, which won first prize in the 2006 London International String Quartet Competition.
She is on the faculty at Roosevelt University and is a proud native of Chicago.
Lara St. John
photo: Twain Newhart
Lara has performed with orchestras on five continents and in recital around the world. She formed her own record label, Ancalagon Records in 1999, and has recorded with orchestras including the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Her release Bach: The Six Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo in 2007 was the best-selling double album of the year on iTunes and her recording featuring two World Premiere 21st century concertos with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra had Gramophone saying “it’s the sort of work that should get audiences running, not walking, back to concert halls...”
She has been featured in People and US News and World Report, on CNN’s Showbiz Today, and NPR’s All Things Considered, Fox News, CBC, BBC Radio 3’s In Tune and on a Bravo! Special: Live At the Rehearsal Hall.
Lara performs on the 1779 “Salabue” Guadagnini thanks to an anonymous donor and Heinl & Co. of Toronto.
Pianist Patricia Tao, founding member of the Guild Trio for ten years, leads an active career as performer, teacher, and concert organizer. As a soloist, Dr. Tao has toured Europe and the United States under the auspices of the USIA and for Columbia Artist’s Community Concerts series.
An avid chamber musician, Patricia Tao performs frequently with fellow Trio Voce members, violinist Jasmine Lin and cellist Marina Hoover.
Dedicated to the performance of new works, Dr. Tao has commissioned and premiered numerous works, including William Bolcom’s Spring Trio and Sheila Silver’s To the Spirit Unconquered, which she recorded on the CRI label. She has also recorded a solo CD on the Arktos label and Chopin and Strauss cello and piano sonatas on the Centaur label.
As concert organizer, Dr. Tao is the Artistic Director for the Edmonton Chamber Music Society’s Summer Solstice Music Festival. She also organizes the Hear’s to your Health Concerts at the Walter Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre at the University of Alberta, which features both local and international musicians.
Dr. Tao received her doctorate from Stony Brook University under the tutelage of Gilbert Kalish, after studies at Harvard and Indiana Universities, where she studied with Leonard Shure and Gyorgy Sebok, respectively. She was an Artist-in-Residence at the University of Virginia for two years, and since 2002 has taught piano and chamber music at the University of Alberta, where she is Associate Professor of Music.