Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival to feature new artists

  • Tue Aug 19th, 2008 6:35pm
  • Life

Anna Polonsky

Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival’s Artistic Director Aloysia Friedmann has planned a provocative season, centered around performances by musicians new to the Festival. Friedmann started program scheduling with harpist Heidi Lehwahlder accepting an invitation to perform, and the program grew from there. Festival “regulars” such as on Jon Kimura Parker on piano, Andrés Cárdenes and Monique Mead on violin, Karla Flygare on flute, David Harding on viola, Frank Kowalsky on clarinet, Page Smith and Anne Martindale Williams on cello will perform again, and new festival performers, Anna Polonsky, who will play piano, Chee-Yun, who will play violin, Page Smith, who will play cello, Karla Flygare, who plays flute, and the Miro String Quartet will join Lehwahlder at this year’s festival.

Violinist Chee-Yun

Chee-Yun’s first public performance at age 8 took place in her native Seoul after she won the Grand Prize of the Korean Times Competition. At 13, she came to the United States and was invited to perform the Vieuxtemps Concerto No. 5 in a Young People’s Concert with the New York Philharmonic. Two years later, she appeared as soloist with the New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In the United States, she has studied violin and chamber music at The Juilliard School.

 In addition to her active performance and recording schedule, Chee-Yun is a dedicated and enthusiastic educator.  She gives master classes around the world and has held several teaching posts at notable music schools and universities. 

Chee-Yun said to Robert Moon in Strings magazine: “Sometimes when you’re playing you’re thinking, ‘This is so tough,’ and you’re really concentrating on the detail . . . but … there were moments when I was getting goosebumps. In the slow movement I was actually praying, it was so spiritual. It was a moment when I realized that this is why we do what we do,” she says enthusiastically. “We were all so nervous, saying that we had to do this masterpiece justice. Then [a fellow musician] said, ‘How many times do we get to play great music for the first time?’ My attitude changed and I realized I would give it my best, just play the notes and let the music flow like butter.”

After a performance in Israel, the The Jerusalem Post said, “This was music making that went directly from her very inner soul to the depths of our own emotions…Even more impressive than her full, round sound and perfect technique, was her interpretation which suggests a life experience much longer and deeper than her age.”

flutist karla flygare

Karla Warnke Flygare is the Principal Flutist with the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra and the Auburn Symphony, with whom she is a frequent soloist. She has served as Principal Flute with the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, and can be heard on the orchestra’s 2006 CD release of works by Philip Glass. An active musician in Seattle, she has been on tour with the Seattle Symphony, and performed on recordings and television broadcasts.

Since winning the National Flute Association Chamber Music Competition in 1986 with a performance at the New York City convention, she has continued to be active in chamber music, with appearances at Chamber Music San Juans (Friday Harbor), Seattle Bumbershoot Festival, and the Canadian International Expo Festival. She has performed chamber music with the Northwest Chamber Orchestra Chamber Series, presented music by Icelandic composers on the Mostly Nordic Chamber Music Series, and recently premiered a work for Woodwind Quartet by Robert Hutchinson on the Auburn Symphony Chamber Series.

A respected educator, Flygare holds the position of Affiliate Artist in Flute at the University of Puget Sound. Her students are regular winners of local and national competitions, and hold national orchestral positions. This fall she will be premiering a newly commissioned concerto for flute, piccolo and alto flute (one player) by American composer Jonathan Newman.

Harpist Heidi Lehwalder

A Seattle native and an esteemed chamber musician, Lehwalder has performed in numerous concerts with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center from 1972 to the present. She has participated in the Mostly Mozart, Caramoor, Santa Fe, and Spoleto Festivals. Lehwalder is the only harpist ever to be invited to tour with Rudolf Serkin’s famed Music from Marlboro. During summer 1987, she served as Professor of Harp in Korea’s First International Chamber Music Festival. As a member of the Orpheus Trio, she toured for eight years throughout North America and Europe with flutist Paula Robison and violist Scott Nickrenz.

Lehwalder is the inspiration for numerous harp concerti, both written for and dedicated to her.

Lehwalder was the Founder and Artistic Director for 20 years of the Fredericksburg Festival of the Arts. She also served as Artistic Director of Belle Arte Concerts in Seattle.

In the fall of 2007, Lehwalder accepted the position of Professor of Harp at the University of Washington. She is the recipient of a Ford Foundation Grant, a Rockefeller Grant and has the distinction of being the first recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize.

Pianist Anna Polonsky

Anna Polonsky made her solo piano debut at the age of seven at the Special Central Music School in Moscow, Russia. She immigrated to the United States in 1990, and attended high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan.

She received her Bachelor of Music diploma from The Curtis Institute of Music, where she worked with the renowned pianist Peter Serkin. She earned her Master’s Degree from the Juilliard School.

Performances both in the Pacific NW and in her native Russia have earned her outstanding praise. From the Portland, Ore. Oregonian: “Polonsky’s playing is extraordinary-elegant, intelligent, and acutely sensitive… her warm legato hints at a string player’s sensibility…”

And from the Saratov [Russia] Regional Newspaper

“It has been a long time since I heard playing so poetic and sincere, such satisfactory realization of the intentions of the most stylistically dissimilar composers. In contrast to many young pianists, who use the piano as a predominantly bombastic and noisy instrument intended for the demonstration of “divine” virtuosity, Anna Polonsky doesn’t “herald” but rather speaks, relates to the piano not as to a percussion instrument, but as to a lyrical and singing conversation-partner, extracting sounds of astounding beauty..”

cellist Page Smith

Page Smith is solo cellist of the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra and the Auburn Symphony and was principal cellist for the Northwest Chamber Orchestra for 25 years and has performed frequently as soloist with all three. She was also principal cellist of the Aspen Chamber Symphony and the New Jersey Symphony, and currently plays frequently with the Seattle Symphony and the Seattle Opera.

She is one of this region’s beloved chamber musicians, performing regularly with the Showcase Chamber Music Series, the Pilchuk Chamber Music Festival, the Mostly Nordic Chamber Music Series and the Second City Chamber Music Series. She has performed as cello soloist with the Tudor Choir, Opus 7 Choir, Choral Arts Northwest, St. Mark’s Cathedral Choir, Seattle Pro Musica and St. James Cathedral Choir. Her versality also brings her to the 5th Avenue Theater and the Paramount Theater to perform shows such as “Sweeney Todd”, “Miss Saigon”, “Showboat”, “West Side Story”, “Ragtime” and “The Lion King”. Her cello was made by Ch. J. B. Collin-Mezin in 1889.

The Miró Quartet

OICMF Artistic Assistant Jon (Jackie) Kimura Parker said recently that String Quartets perform infrequently at festivals, because they are “probably one of the hardest combinations of instruments to blend together both tonally and stylistically … with string instruments only it is much harder to create a unified overall sound.”

However, OICMF Artistic Director Aloysia Friedmann was delighted to engage the Miró Quartet, because some of the best compositions have been written by the great Western composers for string quartets.

The dynamic Miró Quartet, one of America’s highest-profile chamber groups, has risen to the top of the international chamber music scene in only a decade. Founded in 1995 at the Oberlin Conservatory, the Miró Quartet met with immediate success, winning first prize at the 50th annual Coleman Chamber Music Competition in April 1996, and taking both the first and grand prizes at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition two months later. In 2005, the Quartet was the first ensemble to be awarded the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant.

The Miró Quartet has been Faculty String Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Texas at Austin for three years. Its members – violinists Daniel Ching and Sandy Yamamoto, violist John Largess, and cellist Joshua Gindele – teach and coach chamber music there, while maintaining an active international touring schedule. With the Miró on campus, the University of Texas at Austin is one of only a small group of universities whose faculties include a world-class string quartet.

The Miró Quartet recently launched its new web site, www.ClassicalLounge.com, the first online networking community for classical music lovers and an initiative of Miró cellist Joshua Gindele. Through the website, the Miró Quartet will share downloads of its performances, touring itinerary, and inside information from the road. It is the Quartet’s hope that other artists will follow suit and use ClassicalLounge.com as a way to share recordings and to keep fans up-to-date on its activities.

The members of the Miró Quartet have a strong dedication to the next generation of musicians and were on the faculty of the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music at Kent State University, where they taught private students and coached chamber music.

The Quartet’s devotion to contemporary music has led to the commission and performance of music by many modern composers.

Last year the Miró Quartet released the first of a planned series of recordings of Beethoven Quartets – the six works of Op. 18. The group intends to perform and record the remaining ten quartets over the course of several years, when the players are more or less the same age as Beethoven when he wrote them.

The Miró Quartet is named for the Spanish artist Joan Miró, whose surrealist works — with subject matter drawn from the realm of memory and imaginative fantasy — are some of the most original of the 20th century.

To see the concert schedule for the Chamber Music Festival, go to B2.