Skyline Piano Artist series


Six internationally acclaimed pianists will take the stage when Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music presents the fourth annual Skyline Piano Artist Series.

Returning artists include Inon Barnatan, recipient of the 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant and 2015 Martin E. Segal Award, on Nov. 16, and James Giles, Bienen director of music performance graduate studies and piano program coordinator, on May 30, 2019.

Making their Bienen debuts are Olga Kern, 2001 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medalist, on Feb. 2, 2019; Kirill Gerstein, first-prize winner at the 10th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, on March 2, 2019; Alexander Toradze, a virtuoso in the grand Romantic tradition, on April 12, 2019; and Marc-André Hamelin, winner of the 2018 Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance, on May 3, 2019.

All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. and take place at the Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive, on the Evanston campus.

Performances are as follows:

Inon Barnatan

Friday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.

The New York Times hails Inon Barnatan as “one of the most admired pianists of his generation.” He is the recipient of a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant and Lincoln Center’s 2015 Martin E. Segal Award. Barnatan’s recent engagements include his BBC Proms debut, the world premiere of an Alan Fletcher concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and appearances at London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s 92nd Street Y and Carnegie Hall.

Barnatan’s program includes J.S. Bach’s Toccata in E minor, BWV 914; Handel’s Allemande from Suite in E major, HWV 430; Rameau’s Courante from Suite in A minor; Couperin’s “L’Atalante”; Ravel’s Rigaudon from “Le tombeau de Couperin”; Ligeti’s “Musica ricercata,” Nos. 10 and 11; Barber’s Piano Sonata in E flat minor, Op. 26 and Brahms’s “Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel,” Op. 24.

Olga Kern

Saturday, Feb. 2, 7:30 p.m.

Russian-American pianist Olga Kern jump-started her U.S. career with a historic Gold Medal win at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, becoming the first woman to win the prize in more than 30 years. Kern has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Salzburger Festspielhaus, Milan’s La Scala, Zurich’s Tonhalle and Paris’s Châtelet.

Kern’s program features Scarlatti’s Three Sonatas; Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major (“Waldstein”); Gershwin’s Three Preludes and “Fascinating Rhythm” from “Seven Virtuoso Etudes”; Rachmaninoff’s “Moments musicaux,” “Morceaux de salon” (“Barcarolle”) and “Morceaux de fantasie” (“Polichinelle”); Scriabin’s 2 Etudes, Op. 42: Nos. 4 and 5; and Balakirev’s “Islamey.”

Kirill Gerstein

Saturday, March 2, 7:30 p.m.

Kirill Gerstein’s versatility, clarity of expression and virtuosity have propelled him to the top of his profession. First-prize winner at the 10th Arthur Rubinstein Competition, he is also the recipient of a Gilmore Young Artist Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a Gilmore Artist Award. He has commissioned new works from composers including Timo Andres, Chick Corea, Oliver Knussen and Brad Mehldau. Highlights of his 2017-2018 season included debuts with the Pittsburgh and National symphonies; re-engagements with the Minnesota Orchestra and the Boston, Chicago and San Francisco symphonies; and appearances in Europe with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Bavaria Radio Orchestra, the BBC Proms and the Czech, Rotterdam, Stockholm and Oslo philharmonics.

Gerstein’s program includes Beethoven’s “Eroica” Variations in E flat major, Op. 35; Janáček’s Sonata 1.X.1905 (“From the Street”); Liszt’s “Funérailles”; Debussy’s “Les soirs illuminés par l’ardeur du charbon”; “Komitas,” a short selection of works; and Ravel’s “Le tombeau de Couperin.”

Alexander Toradze

Friday, April 12, 7:30 p.m.

Alexander Toradze’s unorthodox interpretations and poetic lyricism have earned him international recognition as a masterful virtuoso. He has appeared with leading orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Mariinsky Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France and the London Symphony. His recordings of the piano concertos of Shostakovich and Prokofiev have earned him critical acclaim.

Toradze has taught at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow and Indiana University South Bend and has participated in numerous summer music festivals including Salzburg, White Nights in St. Petersburg and the BBC Proms concerts in London, Edinburgh and Rotterdam.       

Marc-André Hamelin

Friday, May 3, 7:30 p.m.

Marc-André Hamelin is recognized the world over for his consummate musicianship and brilliant technique. He has received multiple Grammy nominations, and his three-disc recording of the music of Ferruccio Busoni was honored with the 2014 ECHO Klassik Instrumentalist of the Year award and named Disc of the Year by Diapason and Classica magazines. His 2017-2018 season included appearances at Carnegie Hall and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and with the Seattle Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Orchestre de Paris and Moscow Philharmonic, among others.

Hamelin’s program includes Bach’s (arr. Ferruccio Busoni) Chaconne from Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor; Robert Schumann’s Fantasie in C major;
Weissenberg’s “Six Arrangements of Songs Sung by Charles Trénet”; Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s “Cipressi (Cypresses)”; and Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie in A flat major, Op. 61 and Scherzo No. 4 in E major, Op. 54.

James Giles

Thursday, May 30, 7:30 p.m.

Bienen School of Music Director of Music Performance Graduate Studies and Piano Program Coordinator James Giles regularly performs in important musical centers throughout America, Europe and Asia. He has given acclaimed recitals at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, Paris’s Salle Cortot, London’s Purcell Room and Wigmore Hall and Warsaw’s Chopin Academy. Recent tours have taken him to the Nancy Music Festival in France, the Accademia Bartolomeo Cristofori in Florence, the Gijon International Piano Festival in Spain and the Beijing International Music Festival. Giles was first-prize winner at the New Orleans International Piano Competition, the Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition, the Music Teachers National Association National Collegiate Competition and the American Pianists Association Fellowship Awards. He serves as director of the Amalfi Coast Music Festival during the summers and was director of the 2017 American Liszt Society Festival.

Single tickets are $30 for the general public and $10 for full-time students with a valid ID. Tickets are available from concertsatbienen.org, by phone at 847-467-4000 or by visiting the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall ticket office at 50 Arts Circle Drive on the Evanston campus.

Full and partial series subscriptions are available and include a variety of benefits. For more information, call the Bienen School of Music Concert Management Office at 847-491-5441 or visit concertsatbienen.org.

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