40th Anniversary Concert

40th Anniversary Concert

Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Nicholas Phan, tenor
Gabriel Kahane, composer/pianist

Alexander String Quartet:
Zakarias Grafilo, violin
Frederick Lifsitz, violin
Paul Yarbrough, viola
Sandy Wilson, cello

Sunday, April 26, 2020 | 7pm

Herbst TheatreVenue Information
San Francisco

$40 All Seats

Program

Premieres of new works by MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN and GABRIEL KAHANE

About This Performance

Join us Sunday, April 26, as we officially celebrate our 40th anniversary with an evening concert with pianist Marc-André Hamelin, the Alexander String Quartet, tenor Nicholas Phan and composer Gabriel Kahane. The program features the world premieres of a new quintet by Hamelin that he will perform with the Alexander String Quartet and a new song cycle by Kahane for Nicholas Phan.

Performer Biographies

Pianist Marc-André Hamelin is known worldwide for his unrivalled blend of consummate musicianship and brilliant technique in the great works of the established repertoire, as well as for his intrepid exploration of the rarities of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries—in concert and on disc.

The coming season includes Mr. Hamelin’s return to Carnegie Hall for a recital on the Keyboard Virtuoso Series plus recitals in Montreal, Seattle, Berlin, Florence, Salzburg, Wigmore Hall, Istanbul, among others. In repertoire from Haydn and Mozart to Ravel and Rachmaninoff, Hamelin appears with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles, Stuttgart, and Moscow State Philharmonics, the Vancouver, Cincinnati, and Oregon Symphonies, and tours in Europe with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta.

Some highlights of Mr. Hamelin’s last season include recitals at Vienna’s Konzerthaus and at the Schubertiade, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, at Yale, Cincinnati, Savannah, Munich, Moscow, and Vancouver—as well as his second appearance on the Keyboard Virtuoso Series at Carnegie Hall.

With orchestra, he debuted at the Orchestre de Paris with Alan Gilbert conducting the Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand; played the Schoenberg Concerto with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin in the opening weeks of Vladimir Jurowski’s inaugural season; the Ravel Left Hand Concerto with Juanjo Mena and the Toronto Symphony; Ravel’s G Major Concerto with the St. Louis Symphony and John Storgårds; Stravinsky with the Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot; Haydn with Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra; Mozart with Nicholas McGegan conducting the Cleveland Orchestra; the two Brahms concerti with the Moscow Philharmonic; and the Brahms D minor concerto with Andrew Manze conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

He was a distinguished member of the jury of the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2017 where each of the 30 competitors in the preliminary round performed Hamelin’s Toccata on L’Homme armé which marked the first time the composer of the commissioned work was also a member of the jury. Although primarily a performer, Mr. Hamelin has composed music throughout his career; the majority of his works are published by Edition Peters.

Mr. Hamelin records exclusively for Hyperion Records. His most recent releases are a disc of Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B-Flat Major and Four Impromptus, a landmark disc of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Concerto for Two Pianos with Leif Ove Andsnes, Morton Feldman’s For Bunita Marcus, and Medtner’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski. His Hyperion discography of over 60 recordings includes concertos and works for solo piano by such composers as Alkan, Godowsky, and Medtner, as well as brilliantly received performances of Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, and Shostakovich.

He was honored with the 2014 ECHO Klassik Instrumentalist of Year (Piano) and Disc of the Year by Diapason Magazine and Classica Magazine for his three-disc set of Busoni: Late Piano Musicand an album of his own compositions, Hamelin: Études, which received a 2010 Grammy nomination (his ninth) and a first prize from the German Record Critics’ Association. The Hamelin études are published by Edition Peters.

Mr. Hamelin makes his home in the Boston area with his wife, Cathy Fuller. Born in Montreal, Marc-André Hamelin is the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the German Record Critics’ Association. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Chevalier de l’Ordre du Québec, and a member of the Royal Society of Canada.

Described by the Boston Globe as “one of the world’s most remarkable singers,” American tenor Nicholas Phan is increasingly recognized as an artist of distinction. Praised for his keen intelligence, captivating stage presence and natural musicianship, he performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies. Also an avid recitalist, in 2010 he co-founded the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC) to promote art song and vocal chamber music.

Phan once again launches his new season in Chicago, curating CAIC’s seventh annual Collaborative Arts Festival. This year’s three-day festival (Sep 5–8), “The Song as Drama,” will examine the narrative power of the song cycle and the ability of song to tell epic stories with minimal forces. Other highlights of his 2018–19 season are two role debuts: Eumolpus in Stravinsky’s Perséphone, with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony; and the title role in Handel’s Jephtha, with Boston Baroque and Martin Pearlman. The title role in Bernstein’s Candide, with Marin Alsop and the Israel Philharmonic, will mark his debut in Israel. In addition to three programs with the San Francisco Symphony, he will return to major orchestras across the country including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Colorado Symphony. In November he will sing the first of many outings of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin this season, as he gives the world premiere of Antoine Plante’s arrangement of the cycle for full orchestra, with Mercury, the Houston-based orchestra of which Plante is the founder. A celebrated recording artist, Phan will be heard on two forthcoming recordings: Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, (recorded in June 2017); and Handel’s Joseph and His Brethren (recorded in December 2017) with Philharmonia Baroque and Nicholas McGegan, singing the roles of Simeon and Judah.

Phan’s most recent solo album, Illuminations, was released on Avie Records in April 2018. His previous solo album, Gods and Monsters, was nominated for the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo Album. His other previous solo albums, A Painted Tale, Still Fall the Rain and Winter Words, made many "best of" lists, including those of the New York Times, New Yorker, Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe. Phan’s growing discography also includes a Grammy-nominated recording of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony, the opera L’Olimpiade with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, Scarlatti’s La gloria di primavera with Philharmonia Baroque, an album of Bach’s secular cantatas with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan, Bach’s St. John Passion (in which he sings both the Evangelist and the tenor arias) with Apollo’s Fire, and the world premiere recordings of two orchestral song cycles: The Old Burying Ground by Evan Chambers and Elliott Carter’s A Sunbeam’s Architecture.

Phan has appeared with many of the leading orchestras in the North America and Europe, including the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Philharmonia Baroque, Boston Baroque, Les Violons du Roy, BBC Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, Strasbourg Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra of London, and the Lucerne Symphony. He has toured extensively throughout the major concert halls of Europe with Il Complesso Barocco, and has appeared with the Oregon Bach, Ravinia, Marlboro, Edinburgh, Rheingau, Saint-Denis, and Tanglewood festivals, as well as the BBC Proms. Among the conductors he has worked with are Marin Alsop, Harry Bicket, Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Alan Curtis, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Charles Dutoit, James Gaffigan, Jane Glover, Manfred Honeck, Bernard Labadie, Louis Langrée, Nicholas McGegan, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, John Nelson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Helmuth Rilling, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Masaaki Suzuki, Michael Tilson Thomas, Bramwell Tovey and Franz Welser-Möst.

An avid proponent of vocal chamber music, he has collaborated with many chamber musicians, including pianists Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, Jeremy Denk, Graham Johnson, Roger Vignoles, Inon Barnatan, Myra Huang and Alessio Bax; violinist James Ehnes; guitarist Eliot Fisk; harpist Sivan Magen; and horn players Jennifer Montone, Radovan Vlatkovic and Gail Williams. In both recital and chamber concerts, he has been presented by Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, Boston’s Celebrity Series, and the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. In 2010, he co-founded the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, an organization that promotes the art song and vocal chamber music repertoire of which he is Artistic Director.

Phan’s many opera credits include appearances with the Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Chicago Opera Theater, Seattle Opera, Portland Opera, Glyndebourne Opera, Maggio Musicale in Florence, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, and Frankfurt Opera. His growing repertoire includes the title roles in Bernstein’s Candide, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Handel’s Acis and Galatea, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Fenton in Falstaff, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and Lurcanio in Ariodante.

A graduate of the University of Michigan, Phan is the 2012 recipient of the Paul C. Boylan Distinguished Alumni Award. He also studied at the Manhattan School of Music and the Aspen Music Festival and School, and is an alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio. He was the recipient of a 2006 Sullivan Foundation Award and 2004 Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation. In 2018, Phan was appointed to the faculty of DePaul University, where he serves as an adjunct member of the voice faculty.

The day after the 2016 presidential election, singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane boarded a train at Penn Station and traveled 8,980 miles around the continental U.S., talking to dozens of strangers in an attempt to better understand his country and fellow citizens. The resulting album and stage piece, 8980: Book of Travelers (Nonesuch Records), is at once a prayer for empathy and reconciliation, as well as an unflinching examination of the complex and often troubled history of the United States.

Over the last decade, Gabriel has quietly established himself as a songwriter all his own, grafting a deep interest in storytelling to a keen sense of harmony and rhythm. His major label debut, The Ambassador, a study of Los Angeles seen through the lens of ten street addresses, was hailed by Rolling Stone as “one of the year’s very best albums”.

Gabriel has collaborated with a diverse array of artists, including Paul Simon, Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Blake Mills, and Chris Thile, the front man of Punch Brothers, for whom Kahane opened forty concerts in the US in 2015 and 2016. As a composer, he has been commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, A Far Cry, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Oregon Symphony, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, with whom he toured in the spring of 2013, performing Gabriel’s Guide to the 48 States, an hour-long cycle on texts from the WPA American Guide Series. Other orchestral highlights have included solo appearances with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and The Knights, with whom Gabriel recorded his orchestral song cycle Crane Palimpsest, following a performance at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall.

An avid theater Artist, Kahane has appeared twice at the BAM Next Wave Festival, in 2014 with the critically-lauded staged version of The Ambassador, directed by Tony-winner John Tiffany; and returning in 2017 with 8980: Book of Travelers, directed by Daniel Fish. He is also the composer-lyricist of the musical February House, which premiered in 2012 at the Public Theater.

A graduate of Brown University and two-time MacDowell Colony fellow, Gabriel lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Having celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2011, the Alexander String Quartet has performed in the major music capitals of five continents, securing its standing among the world’s premiere ensembles. Widely admired for its interpretations of Beethoven, Mozart, and Shostakovich, the quartet's recordings of the Beethoven cycle (twice), and the Bartók and Shostakovich cycles have all won international critical acclaim. The quartet has also established itself as an important advocate of new music through over 25 commissions from such composers as Jake Heggie, Cindy Cox, Augusta Read Thomas, Robert Greenberg, Martin Bresnick, César Cano, and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Wayne Peterson. A new work by Tarik O'Reagan commissioned for the Alexander by the Boise Chamber Music Series, will have its premiere in 2016.

The Alexander String Quartet is a major artistic presence in its home base of San Francisco, serving since 1989 as Ensemble-in-Residence for San Francisco Performances and Directors of the the Morrison Chamber Music Center in the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at San Francisco State University.

The Alexander String Quartet’s annual calendar of concerts includes engagements at major halls throughout North America and Europe. The quartet has appeared at Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City; Jordan Hall in Boston; the Library of Congress and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington; and chamber music societies and universities across the North American continent. Recent overseas tours have brought them to the U.K., the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Greece, the Republic of Georgia, Argentina, Panamá, and the Philippines. They returned to Poland for their debut performances at the Beethoven Easter Festival in 2015. Among the fine musicians with whom the Alexander String Quartet has collaborated are pianists Joyce Yang, Roger Woodward, Anne-Marie McDermott, Jon Nakamatsu, Menahem Pressler, and Jeremy Menuhin; clarinetists Joan Enric Lluna, David Shifrin, Richard Stolzman, and Eli Eban; soprano Elly Ameling; mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato; cellists Lynn Harrell, Sadao Harada, and David Requiro; violist Toby Appel; and jazz greats, Branford Marsalis, David Sánchez, and Andrew Speight. The quartet has worked with many composers including Aaron Copland, George Crumb, and Elliott Carter and has long enjoyed a close relationship with composer-lecturer Robert Greenberg, performing numerous lecture-concerts with him annually.

The Alexander String Quartet added considerably to its distinguished and wide-ranging discography over the past decade, now recording exclusively for the FoghornClassics label. There were three major releases in the 2013–2014 season: The combined string quartet cycles of Bartók and Kodály, recorded on the renowned Ellen M. Egger Quartet of matched instruments built by San Francisco luthier, Francis Kuttner (“If ever an album had ‘Grammy nominee’ written on its front cover, this is it.” —Audiophile Audition); The String Quintets & Sextets of Brahms with Toby Appel and David Requiro (“a uniquely detailed, transparent warmth” —Strings Magazine); and the Brahms & Schumann Piano Quintets with Joyce Yang (“passionate, soulful readings of two pinnacles of the chamber repertory” —The New York Times). Their recording of music of Gershwin and Kern was released in the summer of 2012, following the Spring 2012 recording of the clarinet quintet of Brahms and a new quintet from César Cano (in Friendship), in collaboration with Joan Enric Lluna, as well as a disc in collaboration with the San Francisco Choral Artists (with Strings Attached). Next to be released will be an album of works by Cindy Cox.

The Alexander's 2009 release of the complete Beethoven Cycle was described by Music Web International as performances “uncompromising in power, intensity and spiritual depth,” while Strings Magazine described the set as “a landmark journey through the greatest of all quartet cycles.” The FoghornClassics label released a three-CD set (Homage) of the Mozart quartets dedicated to Haydn in 2004. FoghornClassics released a six-CD album (Fragments Volume 1 & Volume 2) of the complete Shostakovich quartets in 2006 and 2007, and a recording of the complete quartets of Pulitzer prize-winning San Francisco composer, Wayne Peterson (Retrospections), was released in the Spring of 2008. BMG Classics released the quartet’s first recording of Beethoven cycle on its Arte Nova label to tremendous critical acclaim in 1999.

The Alexander String Quartet was formed in New York City in 1981 and captured international attention as the first American quartet to win the London International String Quartet Competition in 1985. The quartet has received honorary degrees from Allegheny College and St. Lawrence University, and presidential medals from Baruch College (CUNY).

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