Meet the Distinguished 2017 Lyra Competition Judges
Winner of a 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Michael Brown has been described by The New York Times as a “young piano visionary” and “one of the leading figures in the current renais-sance of performer-composers.” Mr. Brown is equally committed as a pianist and composer; his unique artistry is reflected in a creative approach to programming that often interweaves the classics with contemporary works and his own compositions.
Selected by Sir András Schiff for his “Building Bridges” series in 2016-17, Mr. Brown will make debut solo recitals in Berlin, Frankfurt, Florence, Milan, Antwerp, Zurich, and New York’s 92nd Street Y. Mr. Brown joined the roster of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two in 2015 and performs with the Society in Alice Tully Hall and on tour. Re-cent highlights include debuts with the Seattle, North Carolina, Flagstaff, and Maryland Sym-phony Orchestras and the New York Youth Symphony in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium. He regularly performs concerto and solo recitals; in a trio with violinist Elena Urioste and cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and frequently performs recitals with each of them.
The New York Times has called Mr. Brown “a confident young composer with a talent for preci-sion” and described his work as “darkly alluring.” Recent works include a Piano Concerto for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra (with himself as the soloist) and four works for the Ca-nellakis-Duo duo including “Self-Portrait,” a cello/piano work with an original film written and directed by Mr. Canellakis. Mr. Brown has also received commissions from The Maryland Symphony, Bargemusic, Concert Artists Guild, The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, Shriver Hall, The Norton Building Concerts, Pianofest in the Hamptons, and pianists Jerome Low-enthal, Roman Rabinovich, Adam Golka, David Kaplan, and Orion Weiss. Mr. Brown was awarded the 2011 Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Award and the 2009 Palmer-Dixon Prize from The Juilliard School.
Mr. Brown has recorded several albums, including an all-George Perle CD for Bridge Records, a solo album/four-hands with pianist Jerome Lowenthal/cello-piano album with Nicholas Ca-nellakis on CAG Records, and a violin-piano album with Elena Urioste on BIS Records.
A native New Yorker, Mr. Brown earned dual Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Piano and Composition from The Juilliard School, where he studied with pianists Jerome Lowenthal and Robert McDonald and composers Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser. His early teachers were Herbert Rothgarber and Adam Kent, and he has worked with pianists Leon Fleisher and Richard Goode. He has appeared in Alice Tully Hall as winner of the 2012 Juilliard William Petschek Piano Debut Recital Award; Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall; the Louvre; the Marlboro, Ravinia, Gilmore, Chamber Music Sedona; Moab festivals; and the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players in New York City. His awards include First Prize in the 2010 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition; and prizes in the Honens and New York International Piano com-petitions. Mr. Brown is a Steinway Artist.
Miho Weber, cello
“Full of Herculean power” (Time Out), cellist Miho Weber continues to excite audiences with her thought-provoking performances throughout the USA, Europe, and Asia. In New York, she regularly performs at Bargemusic, Carnegie’s Stern Auditorium, Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, Symphony Space, and the UN. Miho’s recent projects have included the Glass Farm Ensemble, InterPlay duo, and collaborations with members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the Memling Ensemble. She has performed with the New England Symphonic Ensemble, Paragon Orchestra, and String Orchestra of New York City throughout the USA as principal cello. Her popular engagements have included a performance with Imagine Dragons on Saturday Night Live and Josh Groban at the US Open.
Miho has held residencies at the Aspen Music Festival, Banff Centre, Schleswig-Holstein, and many others. She is the director of the strings after-school program at NEST+m, a specially gifted and talented school in math and science, and a chamber music coach for the New York Youth Symphony. Miho is the founding director of InterPlay Chamber Music, an educational organization with the unique mission to create an inspiring learning environment for chamber musicians of all ages. She has given lectures on the Bach Suites at CUNY Baruch College and string pedagogy at CUNY Brooklyn College. During the summer, Miho has taught at the New York Summer Music Festival, Blue Mountain Festival at Franklin and Marshall College, and Point CounterPoint. She is currently the music director of the Middlebury Community Music Center Chamber Music Workshop and faculty of the Odyssey Chamber Music Festival in residency at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
American violinist Melissa White has enchanted audiences around the world as both a soloist and chamber musician. A First Prize winner of the Sphinx Competition, Ms White has received critical acclaim for solo performances with some of America’s leading orchestras, including those of Cleveland, Detroit, Baltimore, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Colorado, as well as the Boston Pops. Internationally, she has appeared as a soloist with the Colombian Youth Orchestra in a tour of Columbia as well as in Poland with the Philharmonia Dolnoslaska under the direction of Piotr Gajewski. She has also appeared in recital in Baku, Azerbaijan and, in April 2016, served as interim concertmaster in performances and recordings with the Louisville Orchestra.
As a founding member of the highly acclaimed Harlem Quartet, Ms. White’s passion and artistry have contributed to performances that have been hailed for their “panache” by the New York Times and as "bringing a new attitude to classical music, one that is fresh, bracing and intelligent" by the Cincinnati Inquirer. Together with the Harlem Quartet, Ms. White has performed with luminaries such as Itzhak Perlman, Ida Kavafian, Paul Katz and Anthony McGill, and in many of the country’s most prestigious performance spaces, including Carnegie Hall, at the White House in a performance for the President and First Lady, as well as at the Kennedy Center in collaboration with Misha Dichter. Ms. White’s passion for chamber music has recently expanded to sharing the stage with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, most recently joining the world-renowned conductorless chamber orchestra for a tour of Japan.
Always looking to push and expand musical boundaries, Ms. White has also collaborated closely with several leading jazz musicians including Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Gary Burton. Following an extended international tour with Corea and Burton, her recording with Harlem Quartet and the jazz duo entitled “Mozart Goes Dancing” won three Grammy Awards, including one for Best Instrumental Composition, in February 2013.
In addition to her musical role with the Harlem Quartet, Ms. White also serves as the ensemble’s in-house grant writer. In this capacity, she has written several successful grants, including James Madison University's Cultural Connections Artist-In-Residence Grant and a 2016 Chamber Music America Residency Grant which was designated the Guarneri String Quartet residency grant. This award will allow the Harlem Quartet to partake in an extended residency in Mobile, Alabama that will include a close partnership with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. White holds performance degrees from both the Curtis Institute of Music as well as the New England Conservatory of Music and has studied with Jaime Laredo, Ida Kavafian, Donald Weilerstein and Miriam Fried. Her current instrument, "Matilda," was commissioned as part of a Sphinx MPower Artist Grant in 2014 by the American violin maker Ryan Soltis. When she doesn’t have a violin in her hands, Ms. White is an advanced practitioner of Bikram Yoga and enjoys taking photos while exploring the many wonderful places around the world that her music has allowed her to visit.