Julien LabroAccordion and Accordina
Friday, October 20, 2017 | 7:30pm
Herbst TheatreVenue Information
PÄRT: Fratres (arr. Labro)
GNATTALI: Suite Retratos (arr. Labro)
METHENY: Antonia (arr. Vieaux)
PIAZZOLLA: Escualo (arr. Labro/Vieaux)
BALKANSKI: Prelude and Scherzo
The Guitar Series is presented in association with OMNI Foundation for the Performing Arts.
About This Performance
Jason Vieaux makes his SF Performances debut with accordionist Julien Labro, for an evening of works by Piazzolla, Arvo Pärt, Pat Metheny and others, in which they infuse traditional classical music with diverse performance approaches including tango and jazz.
Grammy-winner Jason Vieaux, “among the elite of today's classical guitarists” (Gramophone), is the guitarist that goes beyond the classical. NPR describes Vieaux as, “perhaps the most precise and soulful classical guitarist of his generation.” His most recent solo album, Play, won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo. In June 2014, NPR named Zapateado from the album as one of its “50 Favorite Songs of 2014 (So Far).”
Vieaux has earned a reputation for putting his expressiveness and virtuosity at the service of a remarkably wide range of music, and his schedule of performing, teaching, and recording commitments is distinguished throughout the U.S. and abroad. His solo recitals have been a feature at every major guitar series in North America and at many of the important guitar festivals in Asia, Australia, Europe, and Mexico. Recent and future highlights include returns to the Caramoor Festival, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and New York's 92Y, as well as his Ravinia Festival debut and performances at Argentina’s Teatro Colon and Oslo, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and Norway’s Classical Music Fest. Vieaux’s appearances for Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Bard Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Strings Music Festival, Grand Teton, and many others have forged his reputation as a first-rate chamber musician and programmer. He collaborates in recitals this season with Escher Quartet, acclaimed harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, and accordion/bandoneón virtuoso Julien Labro. Vieaux’s passion for new music has fostered premieres of works by Avner Dorman, Dan Visconti, Vivian Fung, Keith Fitch, Kinan Abou-Afach, David Ludwig, Jerod Tate, Eric Sessler, José Luis Merlin, Jeff Beal, Gary Schocker and more.
Jason Vieaux has performed as concerto soloist with over 100 orchestras, including Cleveland, Houston, Toronto, San Diego, Ft. Worth, Charlotte, Buffalo, Grand Rapids, Kitchener-Waterloo, Richmond, IRIS Chamber, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Chautauqua Festival, and New Hampshire Music Festival. Some of the conductors he has worked with include David Robertson, Donato Cabrera, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Jahja Ling, Stefan Sanderling, Michael Stern, David Lockington, Steven Smith, Edwin Outwater, and Gerard Schwartz. During the 2016–17 season, Jason Vieaux will make appearances with 11 symphony orchestras throughout the US and Canada, including return engagements with the Santa Fe and Edmonton Symphonies, Piazzolla’s Double Concerto with Julien Labro and the Arkansas Symphony, and engagements with the symphonies of Niagra, Stockton, Illinois, and West Virginia. Vieaux will also be performing Dan Visconti’s new guitar concerto, Living Language, which he premiered with California Symphony in May 2016, with the symphonies of Reading, Fort Wayne, and Richmond.
Vieaux continues to bring important repertoire alive in the recording studio as well. His latest album, Infusion with accordionist Julien Labro, was released in October 2016 on Azica Records and features Vieaux and Labro in Labro’s arrangements of Leo Brouwer’s Tres Danzas Concertantes and Piazzolla’s Escualo, his arrangement of Radamés Gnattali’s Suite Retratos with bassist Peter Dominguez and percussionist Jamey Haddad, Pat Metheny’s Antonia, and Vieaux’s arrangement of iconic 1980s British rock band Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule the World. Vieaux recently recorded Alberto Ginastera’s Sonata for Guitar Op. 47 for a Ginastera Centennial album produced by Yolanda Kondonassis, which was released in October 2016 on Oberlin Music and features additional performances by Kondonassis, violinist Gil Shaham, and pianist Orli Shaham. His duo album Together, with harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, was released in January 2015. Of his Grammy-winning 2014 solo album Play, Soundboard Magazine writes, “If you ever want to give a friend a disc that will cement his or her love for the guitar, this is a perfect candidate,” while Premier Guitar claims, “You’d be hard pressed to find versions performed with more confidence, better tone, and a more complete understanding of the material.”
Vieaux’s previous albums include a recording of Astor Piazzolla’s music with Julien Labro and A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra; Bach: Works for Lute, Vol. 1, which hit No. 13 on Billboard’s Classical Chart after its first week and received rave reviews by Gramophone, The Absolute Sound, and Soundboard; Images of Metheny, featuring music by American jazz legend Pat Metheny (who after hearing this landmark recording declared: “I am flattered to be included in Jason's musical world”);and Sevilla: The Music of Isaac Albeniz, which made several Top Ten lists the year of its release. Vieaux’s albums and live performances are regularly heard on radio and internet around the world, and his work is the subject of feature articles in print and online around the world, including such magazines as Acoustic Guitar, MUSO, Gramophone, and on NPR’s Deceptive Cadence. Vieaux was the first classical musician to be featured on NPR’s popular Tiny Desk series, on which he made a rare repeat performance in 2015 with Yolanda Kondonassis.
In 2012, the Jason Vieaux School of Classical Guitar was launched with ArtistWorks Inc., an unprecedented technological interface that provides one-on-one online study with Vieaux for guitar students around the world. In 2011, he co-founded the guitar department at The Curtis Institute of Music, and in 2015 was invited to inaugurate the guitar program at the Eastern Music Festival. Vieaux has taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music since 1997, heading the guitar department since 2001.
Vieaux is affiliated with Philadelphia’s Astral Artists. His primary teachers were Jeremy Sparks and John Holmquist. In 1992 he was awarded the prestigious GFA International Guitar Competition First Prize, the event’s youngest winner ever. He is also honored with a Naumburg Foundation top prize, a Cleveland Institute of Music Alumni Achievement Award, and a Salon di Virtuosi Career Grant. In 1995, Vieaux was an Artistic Ambassador of the U.S. to Southeast Asia.
Heralded as “the next accordion star,” Julien Labro has established himself as one of the foremost accordion and bandoneón players in both the classical and jazz genres. Deemed to be “a triple threat: brilliant technician, poetic melodist and cunning arranger,” his artistry, virtuosity, and creativity as a musician, composer and arranger have earned him international acclaim and continue to astonish audiences worldwide.
French‐born Labro was influenced early on by traditional folk music and the melodic, lyrical quality of the French chanson. Upon discovering the music of jazz legends like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, he quickly became inspired by the originality, freedom, creativity, and the endless possibilities in their musical language.
After graduating from the Marseille Conservatory of Music, Labro began winning international awards, taking first prize in the Coupe Mondiale in 1996 and the Castelfidardo Competitions in 1997. After sweeping first place in the Marcel Azzola, Jo Privat and Medard Ferrero competitions in 1995 and 1998, respectively, Labro moved to the United States, where he earned graduate degrees in Classical Music, Jazz Studies and Composition. During this time, he was exposed to and embraced other genres of music, ranging from pop and hip—hop to electronic/techno and rap, as well as Latin, Indian, Middle Eastern, and other types of world music. Labro draws from both his diverse academic background and eclectic musical influences in his professional life as a performer, arranger, and composer. His passion for promoting the understanding and love of music has well been recognized through his master classes at renowned institutions such as the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music.
As a musician and artist, Labro is constantly evolving. In 2015, he performed and debuted his first concerto, Apricity, with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. Additionally, Labro curated an all-accordion concert for the prestigious University Musical Society (UMS) in an event entitled “The Big Squeeze: An Accordion Summit” at Hill Auditorium. Labro, once again, reunited some of the instruments’ finest players to display the versatility of the accordion and its various cousins.
Piazzolla, a major influence and the reason Labro picked up the bandoneón, is also the title of his album with classical guitarist and Grammy‐award winner Jason Vieaux and A Far Cry chamber orchestra. Other releases include Grammy‐award winning vocalist Cassandra Wilson’s Another Country and critically acclaimed Hot Club of Detroit’s Junction, which features many of Labro’s original compositions, revealing his wide understanding and mastery of different genres, innovative approach as well as his broad musical inspirations.
On a creative level, Labro has been enlisted as an arranger for several professional ensembles, including Ensemble Vivant of Toronto, A Far Cry, Spektral Quartet, and Curtis On Tour from the Curtis Institute of Music Faculty of Philadelphia.
Labro’s musical journey has taken him around the world. His past performances include jazz venues such as Dizzy’s, Birdland, SFJAZZ, Blue Note, Yoshi's, The Green Mill, and Sculler's, and festivals such as Jazz Aspen Snowmass, Detroit Jazz Festival, Jazz Salt Lake City, Fontana Chamber Arts Summer Festival, Soave Guitar Festival (IT), Quebec City Summer Festival (CA), Inchad International Cultural Festival in Constantine (AL), Byblos International Music Festival (LB), Beiteddine Art Festival (LB), Al-Qurain Culture Festival (Kuwait), and many more.
He has been a guest artist with numerous symphonies and chamber ensembles such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, A Far Cry, the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cape Cod Symphony, the Michigan Pops Orchestra, the Linden String Quartet, the Prairie Ensemble, the Spektral Quartet and many more.
In the past, he has performed and/or collaborated with groups and artists such as Brazilian pianist João Donato, Argentinean Grammy winning composer and pianist Fernando Otero, vocalist Cassandra Wilson, clarinetist Anat Cohen, Lebanese oud master Marcel Khalife, saxophonists Miguel Zenón, James Carter, Chris Cheek, Jon Irabagon and Victor Goines, composers Du Yun and Avner Dorman, harmonica extraordinaire Howard Levy, percussionist Jamey Haddad, bandoneónist Daniel Binelli, and guitarists Howard Alden, Larry Coryell, Frank Vignola, Tommy Emmanuel, and John and Bucky Pizzarelli.
In 2012, Labro embarked on an exciting long-standing collaboration with Spektral Quartet, with whom he performed at NYC’s Subculture in 2014, the International Latino Festival in Chicago, and Wheaton College, just to name a few. Their work has drawn increasing attention and was featured in a 2015 Chamber Music America article entitled Art of Opportunity by Paul Brady, who described Labro as an “A-list star” with “deep jazz cred.” Their 2014 album From This Point Forward, which was included in the Chicago Tribune’s list of ten new significant classical album releases, is a genre bending collection of compositions from South America. In these arrangements, Labro delicately melds different genres, styles, and sounds with intricate craftsmanship that not only preserves the original essence of the pieces but also brings in fresh new twists and perspectives that introduce a new understanding and appreciation of the music for the modern day audience. Alto sax great and McArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón joined on a couple tracks.
This past season was a busy one for Labro. He was invited as an artist in residence for the Princeton University Concerts series, where he also premiered his new project, the Julien Labro Quartet. Following a “Jazz at Lincoln Center” tour throughout Mexico with Grammy nominated trumpet player, Diego Urcola, he performed at the Riverside Fine Arts series with the Spektral Quartet in Jacksonville, FL and played a concert with Frank Vignola for the Vail Jazz Winter Series in Colorado. In the Spring, Labro reunited with A Far Cry for a performance of Russian Avant-Garde composer Sofia Gubaidulina’s Fachwerk at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA and participated in celebrating the inaugural season of Hope College’s new performing arts center where he played music by Dutch composer Theo Loevendie. After a show in Dubai, UAE, Labro will be returning to Lebanon this summer for performances at the Batroun Festival in Lebanon, performing in the Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing Festival, traveling to Colorado for the Crested Butte Music Festival and expanding upon the Julien Labro Quartet with a tour through the Midwest. Labro will be closing his Summer schedule with concerts in South Korea at the Daejeon Chamber Music Festival and several other cities.
The new season will open with a trip to Jordan for the Jordan Citadel Festival in Amman, followed by several orchestral engagements throughout the United Stated, including a performance with the Arkansas Symphony and Jason Vieaux as part of the ACANSA Arts Festival. Labro and Vieaux’s collaboration also resulted in the release of an album entitled Infusion, which includes new arrangements of music by Brouwer, Gnattali, and Metheny amongst others. On the jazz side, Labro is also working on a new project with saxophonist Jon Irabagon, and preparing for a second tour with trumpet player Diego Urcola, while continuing to perform with the Julien Labro Quartet and Hot Club of Detroit. In his free time, Labro is working on composing a new bandoneón concerto that will be a sequel to his accordion concerto Apricity.