An artist of singular vision, pianist Jenny Q Chai is widely renowned for her ability to illuminate musical connections throughout the centuries. With radical joie de vivre and razor-sharp intention, Chai creates layered multimedia programs and events which explore and unite elements of science, nature, fashion, and art. “Jenny Q Chai, who has studied with Pierre-Laurent Aimard, is following the more eclectic path…” New York Times.
Based in both Shanghai and Paris, Chai’s instinctive understanding of new music is complemented by a deep grounding in core repertoire, with special affinity for Schumann, Scarlatti, Beethoven, Bach, Debussy, and Ravel. She is a noted interpreter of 20th-century masters Cage, Messiaen, and Ligeti, and her career is threaded through with strong relationships and close collaborations with a range of notable contemporary composers, including Marco Stroppa, Jarosław Kapuściński, and György Kurtág. With a deft poetic touch, Chai weaves this wide-ranging repertoire into a gorgeous and lucid musical tapestry.
Chai is also a vital champion and early tester of the groundbreaking synchronous score following software program, Antescofo. Developed at IRCAM by scientist Arshia Cont and composer Marco Stroppa, the software offers a real time computer and animation response to live performance elements, enabling performers to create multimedia presentations of sophisticated and expressive fluency. Chai explored and helped hone Antescofo in residence at IRCAM (alongside frequent collaborator, Jarosław Kapuściński) and has since toured internationally with the software, offering multimedia performances in Shanghai, New York, Havana, and elsewhere.
Other notable highlights include her Carnegie Hall debut in 2012; many performances at (le) Poisson Rouge, including a 2016 Antescofo-supported program, Where’s Chopin?; lectures and recitals at the Shanghai Symphony Hall; a featured performance at the Leo Brouwer Festival in Havana, Cuba; Philippe Manoury’s double-piano concerto, Zones de turbulences, at the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music (with duo partner, pianist Adam Kośmieja and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra); and much more.
Her immersive approach to music is also channeled into her work with FaceArt Institute of Music, the Shanghai-based organization she founded and runs, offering music education and an international exchange of music and musicians in China and beyond. Additionally, Chai serves on the Board of Directors of the New York City-based contemporary music organization Ear to Mind, and has published a doctoral dissertation on Marco Stroppa’s Miniature Estrose.
Chai has recorded for labels such as Deutschlandfunk, Naxos, and ArpaViva. In 2010, she released her debut recording, New York Love Songs – features interpretations of works by Cage and Ives, among others – and her most recent recording, Life Sketches: Piano Music of Nils Vigeland was released in 2014 by Naxos. She can also be heard on Michael Vincent Waller’s Five Easy Pieces and Cindy Cox’s Hierosgamos.
The recipient of the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust’s 2011 Pianist/Composer Commissioning Project, the DAAD Arts and Performance award in 2010, and first prize winner of the Keys to the Future Contemporary Solo Piano Festival, Jenny Q Chai has studied at the Shanghai Music Conservatory, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, and in Cologne University of Music and Dance. Her teachers include Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Seymour Lipkin, Solomon Mikowsky, and Anthony de Mare.
|Juilliard Alumni, award winner of Contemporary Music Competition in Warsaw and co-founder of FaceArt Institute of Music in Shanghai – Polish pianist and composer Piotr Tomasz – is an accomplished performer, educator and ambassador of Polish culture on four continents.
Hailed by music critic David Dubal as a “rare and inspiring Chopinist,” Mr. Tomasz is an active ambassador of Polish music abroad and laureate of international piano competitions and a frequent participant in prestigious festivals across the globe. Mr. Tomasz has toured his native country and performed at such major concert halls as Paul Hall in New York City, Concert Hall in Shanghai, Hôtel des Invalides in Paris, Sydney Opera House and many others in Spain, Italy, U.S.A., Australia and China. After earning Master’s degrees from the Academy of Music in Krakow, where he studied piano under Prof. Andrzej Pikul he moved to New York to further his studies at the Juilliard School. During those years Mr. Tomasz studied harpsichord with Lionel Party and piano with Jerome Lowenthal. Mr. Tomasz after winning the highest honor at the 20th Century and Contemporary Music Competition in Warsaw, Mr. Tomasz recorded Béla Bartók’s Piano Sonata for the Polish Radio and TV Network.
|Niccolo Athens (b. 1988) was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. He began his musical life as a violist, and started studying composition privately with Timothy Kramer in 2004. In 2010 he received his bachelor of music in composition from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Samuel Adler. He is currently a DMA candidate at Cornell University, where his primary teachers are Steven Stucky and Roberto Sierra. He spent the 2014-15 academic year on a Fulbright grant pursuing his studies at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where he worked under Ye Xiaogang. Ensembles which have performed his work include the Juilliard Orchestra, the New Juilliard Ensemble, the Momenta Quartet, the Villiers Quartet, the Olmos Ensemble, the Talea Ensemble, the East Coast Contemporary Ensemble, the Longfellow Chorus, the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, and the San Antonio Symphony. Upcoming projects include a new work for cello and piano for cellist John Haines-Eitzen.
During the summer, Niccolo has attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Eastern Music Festival, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the Aspen Music Festival, the Staunton Music Festival, and the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau. He has received two BMI Student Composer awards, in 2006 and in 2009, and in 2012 he received a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Other awards include first prize in the emerging composer category of the American Art Song Competition for Composers, and first prize in choral music from the Longfellow Chorus Competition for New Works.
Niccolo received scholastic distinction from Juilliard in recognition of his research on the music of American composer Alan Hovhaness, whose work is a special passion and area of interest for him. This work, “The Walls Between the Worlds Grow Thin,” was cited in a 2011 article about Hovhaness which appeared in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. In 2009 he began studying Mandarin at Columbia University, and has pursued this interest up to the present, spending the summer of 2011 studying in Beijing at Minzu University. In 2009 he also scored new network ID’s for WNET 13, a public television station based in New York.
|Since his Mozart K.503 concerto debut in Australia aged twelve, pianist James Brawn has forged his own musical path of discovery, studying with great pianists who can trace their pedagogical lineage back to Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt and Clara Schumann.
Brawn was born in England but has lived around the world in New Zealand, Australia, China and the USA. Starting piano lessons at the age of seven, he performed on New Zealand television and won his first awards in Auckland in 1979. His family moved to Melbourne the following year where his musical studies blossomed through the 1980s with Margaret Schofield (a pupil of Solomon), Ronald Farren-Price (a pupil of Arrau) and Rita Reichman (a pupil of Serkin and Horszowski). He also won major prizes at competitions and scholarships, including the Hephzibah Menuhin Award presented by Yehudi Menuhin. While still at school, James performed concerti by Mozart, Beethoven, Saint-Saens and Rachmaninoff. He also reached the concerto final of the ABC Young Performers Awards in 1987, leading to concerts with the Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony orchestras.
With a major overseas study grant from the Australia Arts Council, Brawn was then able to continue work with his mentor, Rita Reichman, in Philadelphia, gaining a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, London, at the age of 17 in 1988. There he studied with Frank Wibaut and Christopher Elton, completing both undergraduate and postgraduate study and winning many recital awards including the Beethoven, Romantic and 20th century prizes. He also performed in master classes with great pianists such as András Schiff, Tamás Vásáry, Stephen Kovacevich, Fou Ts’ong and Menahem Pressler. James studied chamber music with members of the Amadeus and Chilingirian Quartets and attended the Britten-Pears and Lake District summer schools. At the age of 19, he won the Keyboard final of the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition, performing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
Recitals as soloist and in chamber music partnerships followed at music societies and festivals around the UK, including performances at the Purcell Room, St. Martin-in-the-Fields and St. James’s Piccadilly. At this point, James furthered his studies with the Armenian pianist, Nelly Akopian-Tamarina, and the Slovenian pianist, Marina Horak.
His London performances to date include, amongst others, the Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, St James’s Piccadilly, St.Martin-in-the-Fields, the Foundling Museum, Blackheath Halls, Regent Hall and The Forge. Overseas recitals include the Berlioz Auditorium, Paris, Roussel Hall, New Orleans, Shanghai Symphony Hall, Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre, Shanghai Concert Hall, music societies in Brunei and Hong Kong and in Ragusa-Ibla, Sicily. Other important British venues include Cheltenham Town Hall, Yehudi Menuhin Hall, Chichester, Bristol and Birmingham Cathedrals and Brawn performs regularly for the Helensburgh Music Society in Scotland. He has also given recitals for the Schubert Society of Britain and the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe. Radio broadcasts include ABC Classic FM and 3MBS radio in Australia, RTHK Radio 4, Hong Kong and his Beethoven recordings are being played on NPR stations across the USA.
Returning to the UK in 2010 to further his career, Brawn is based in the beautiful English Cotswolds. Forging links with the acclaimed producer Jeremy Hayes at Potton Hall, Suffolk, he began the process of performing and recording the complete Beethoven piano sonatas in April 2012. As a result, the first four volumes of ‘A Beethoven Odyssey’ have since been released to exceptional reviews. The first 2 volumes of the James Brawn ‘In Recital’ series have also been greeted to similar acclaim. Each of these recordings is available on the MSR Classics label – www.msrcd.com.
Beginning in 2016, Brawn was appointed to the piano faculty of the FaceArt Institute of Music Shanghai. This coming season Mr Brawn will tour the UK, China and Canada in recital and concerto performances. www.jamesbrawn.com