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Sanibel Music Festival back for 24th season of classical tunes

By Staff | Mar 3, 2010

Award-winning pianist Yeol Eum Son of South Korea will perform at the Sanibel Music Festival on March 16.

Earlier this week, The Sanibel Music Festival began its 24th consecutive season of bringing outstanding repertoire and artists to the island.

This year’s festival will feature four new offerings, including the Borealis String Quartet (which opened this year’s series on March 2), Boston Trio, Escher String Quartet with Wu Han, and the Cliburn Piano Competition Silver Medalist Yeol Eum Son.

In addition, three returning favorites include American Chamber Players with Guest Violinist Janet Sung, St. Lawrence String Quartet with Pedja Muzijevic on Piano, and Opera Theater of Connecticut.

All concerts will be performed at 8 p.m. throughout the month of March on Tuesdays and Saturdays at the intimate setting of the Sanibel Congregational Church, located at 2050 Periwinkle Way.

“We’ve been coming to Sanibel since 1992, and our collaboration with the Music Festival has been a great relationship through the years,” said Alan Mann, Artistic Director for the Opera Theater of Connecticut.

The American Chamber Players, scheduled to perform at the Sanibel Music Festival on March 6, features a talented ensemble of piano, string trio, flute and clarinet virtuosos.

When asked why his group enjoys returning to the island, year after year, Mann chuckled and said, “It’s two things.”

“First, Sanibel has such wonderful audiences that are very warm and responsive to our program,” he explained. “And second, being up here in New England and having an offer to come down to the islands for a week every March in the warmth and sunshine isn’t too bad, either.”

Incorporated in 1987 as a non-for-profit organization, the mission of the Sanibel Music Festival is to present classical music of the highest standard at affordable prices and to promote the careers of young artists through performance opportunities.

This Saturday, March 6 brings the American Chamber Players back to Sanibel.

Violist, author and popular NPR Music Commentator Miles Hoffman is the ACP founder. Among today’s most versatile and innovative chamber music ensembles, the ACP was formed in 1985 from a core group of artists of the Library of Congress Summer Chamber Festival.

The St. Lawrence String Quartet includes Geoff Nuttall (violin), Scott St. John (violin), Lesley Robertson (viola) and Christopher Costanza (cello). They perform on March 20.

Hoffman’s ensemble of piano, string trio, flute and clarinet is known for creating programs with a unique mix of instrumental combinations, ranging from duos through works for the full sextet. The ensemble performs repertoire ranging from familiar masterpieces, to neglected gems, to newly commissioned American works. Guest violinist Janet Sung will join the ensemble for this concert.

On Friday, March 5, ACP will conduct one of their delightful SMF-sponsored Outreach Programs at the Sanibel School for fifth through eighth graders.

The third show of the season, scheduled for Tuesday, March 9, will feature the Boston Trio. Since their formation in 1997, the group has quickly become one of today’s most exciting chamber ensembles.

“Wherever this trio plays, drop everything and go hear them!” hailed the Boston Globe on the occasion of the trio’s Tanglewood debut. Acclaimed for their superb sense of ensemble and wondrous balance, the Trio enjoys a devoted following in Boston and a growing reputation throughout the United States and abroad.

Founding pianist Heng-Jin Park, who made her solo debut with the Boston Pops at the age of 15, was a prize winner at the Sydney International Piano Competition. Cellist Allison Eldredge, who has soloed with many of the world’s finest orchestras, is a recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. Romanian violinist Irina Muresanu, the newest member of the group, is the recipient of top prizes at the Montreal International Competition and the Queen Elizabeth Violin Competition.

The Boston Trio — March 9

Within months of its inception in 2005, the Escher String Quartet – performing on Saturday, March 13 – was invited to be quartet-in-residence at both Pinchas Zuckerman’s and Itzhak Perlman’s summer festivals.

The Quartet, comprised of Adam Barnett-Hart (violin); Wu Jie (violin); Piere Lapointe (viola); and Andrew Janss (cello), has received acclaim for its individual sound, inspired artistic decisions and unique cohesiveness. They were selected in 2006 for the prestigious CMS Two residency at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In 2007, they joined the faculty of Stony Brook University as Adjunct Professors in a unique relationship with the world-renowned Emerson String Quartet.

Pianist Wu Han will join the Escher for the Taneyev Piano Quintet, which she performed in 2008 at the Aspen Festival.

Every four years, the Cliburn attracts the world’s outstanding young pianists to Texas. At age 23, Yeol Eum Son’s highly versatile and accomplished performance earned her a silver medal at the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in June 2009.

Already considered among the most important artists of her generation in South Korea, Son – performing on Tuesday, March 16 – has performed there with nearly every notable orchestra. She has been a featured soloist with the New York Philharmonic on several occasions, most recently as part of the orchestra’s historic visit to Seoul.

The Escher String Quartet — March 13

Celebrating its 20th year, The St. Lawrence String Quartet – performing at the festival on Saturday, March 20 – is generally considered the best quartet to come along after the renowned Emerson String Quartet.

Members Geoff Nuttall (violin), Scott St. John (violin), Lesley Robertson (viola) and Christopher Costanza (cello) serve as quartet-in-residence at Stanford. Several contemporary composers, including John Adams, Osvaldo Golijov and David Bruce, have recently written quartets for the ensemble.

The Dean of the Juilliard School writes of them, “The members of the Quartet approach what they do with the vigor, freshness and enthusiasm of a 20-year-old, combined with the wisdom of their two decades of experience.”

Bosnian-born pianist Pedja Muzijevic, who is a winner of numerous prizes, including Julliard’s prestigious Petschek award and top prize in the Busoni International Competition, joins the quartet for this performance.

Returning to Sanibel Music Festival after several triumphal appearances, Opera Theater of Connecticut will round out this year’s series on Tuesday, March 23. They will present a dynamic new program of opera highlights.

Artistic Director Alan Mann adds his witty and informative commentary before each selection. Several of the company’s gifted young singers who have performed at the Festival through the years have gone on to the Met, the New York City Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago. OTC will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2010.

This year’s voices includes Soprano Teresa Eickel; Mezzo-Soprano Gala El Hadidi; Tenor Michael-Paul Krubitzer; Lyric-Tenor Brian Cheney; and Baritone Scott Bearden. Kate Ford, co-founder of the company, serves as General Director and Kyle Swann as Conductor.

Tickets may be purchased by contacting the Sanibel Music Festival, P.O. Box 1623, Sanibel FL 33957-1623, by calling 239-336-7999 or by logging on to www.sanibelmusicfestival.org. Single tickets may be purchased by mail, phone and are available at Bank of the Islands (1699 Periwinkle Way), Sanibel Captiva Community Bank (2477 Library Way) or Sanibel Captiva Community Bank (1037 Periwinkle Way) on Sanibel.