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2020 FESTIVAL ARTISTS

Guest Artists

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Henry Kramer, Piano
Thurs. July 16, 2020 Smith College Sage Hall
1:30pm Piano Masterclass
7:30pm Solo Recital

Praised by The Cleveland Classical Review for his “astonishingly confident technique” and The New York Times for “thrilling [and] triumphant” performances, pianist Henry Kramer is developing a reputation as a musician of rare sensitivity who combines stylish programming with insightful and exuberant interpretations.  In 2016, he garnered international recognition with a Second Prize win in the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. Most recently, he was awarded a 2019 Avery Fisher Career Grant by Lincoln Center – one of the most coveted honors bestowed on young American soloists.

Kramer began playing piano at the relatively late age of 11 in his hometown of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. One day, he found himself entranced by the sound of film melodies as a friend played them on the piano, inspiring him to teach himself on his family’s old upright. His parents enrolled him in lessons shortly thereafter, and within weeks, he was playing Chopin and Mozart.

Henry emerged as a winner in the National Chopin Competition in 2010, the Montreal International Competition in 2011 and the China Shanghai International Piano Competition in 2012.  In 2014 he was added to the roster of Astral Artists, an organization that annually selects a handful of rising stars among strings, piano, woodwinds and voice candidates. The following year, he earned a top prize in the Honens International Piano Competition.  

Kramer has performed “stunning” solo recital debuts, most notably at Alice Tully Hall as the recipient of the Juilliard School’s William Petschek Award, as well as at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.  At his Philadelphia debut, Peter Dobrin of The Philadelphia Inquirer remarked, “the 31-year-old pianist personalized interpretations to such a degree that works emerged anew. He is a big personality.”  

A versatile performer, Kramer has soloed in concertos with the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, among many others, collaborating with conductors such as Marin Alsop, Gerard Schwarz, Stéphane Denève, Jan Pascal Tortelier and Hans Graf. Upcoming performances in the 2019-20 season include a return engagement with the National Orchestra of Belgium performing Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4, as well as debuts with the Columbus and Hartford Symphony Orchestras playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

His love for the chamber music repertoire began early in his studies while a young teenager.  A sought-after collaborator, he has appeared in recitals at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Mainly Mozart Festival, the Mostly Mozart Festival, and La Jolla Music Society’s Summerfest.  His recording with violinist Jiyoon Lee on the Champs Hill label received four stars from BBC Music Magazine. This year, Gramophone UK praised Kramer’s performance on a recording collaboration (Cedille Records) with violist Matthew Lipman for “exemplary flexible partnership.”  Henry has also performed alongside Emmanuel Pahud, the Calidore and Pacifica Quartets, Miriam Fried, as well as members of the Berlin Philharmonic and Orchestra of St. Luke’s.  

Teaching ranks among his greatest joys.  Since 2018, Kramer has held the L. Rexford Distinguished Chair in Piano at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia.  Throughout his multifaceted career, he has also had positions at Smith College and the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory of Dance and Music.

Kramer graduated from the Juilliard School, where he worked with Julian Martin and Robert McDonald. He received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Yale School of Music under the guidance of Boris Berman.  His teachers trace a pedagogical lineage extending back to Beethoven, Chopin and Busoni. Kramer is a Steinway Artist.



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Sarah Rommel, Cello
Thurs. July 9, 2020 Smith College Sage Hall
1:30pm Cello Masterclass
7:30pm Recital

Cellist Sarah Rommel is a top prizewinner of the 2014 George Enescu International Cello Competition. She has been the recipient of several awards and grants including a Williamson Foundation Grant, Frank Huntington Beebe Fund Grant, and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artists Award, which led to a subsequent appearance on NPR’s “From the Top”.

Sarah has given solo recitals at Caramoor’s Evnin Rising Stars Showcase and at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in addition to performances in Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, France, Italy, England, and Romania. She has actively participated in classes at the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, Academie Musicale de Villecroze, and IMS Prussia Cove where she has worked closely with distinguished professors such as David Geringas, Gary Hoffman, Frans Helmerson, and Paul Katz.

An enthusiastic chamber musician, Sarah was a founding member of the cello quintet SAKURA and has appeared with the Chameleon Arts Ensemble and SHUFFLE Concert. She has also recently toured with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO) and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Sarah has been invited to perform at festivals such as the Kingston Chamber Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, NM, Music in May Festival, Santa Cruz Chamber Players, Chamber Music Palisades, Chamber Music Sedona, as well as Caramoor’s Evnin Rising Stars Series, Chamber Music New Zealand, Yellow Barn, Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute and Marlboro Music Festival. Sarah has collaborated with composers John Adams, Sofia Gubaidulina, Jennifer Higdon, Steve Mackey, and Kaija Saariaho, pianist Jonathan Biss and Gil Kalish, violinists Lucy Chapman, Pamela Frank, Joseph Lin, Scott St. John, and Don Weilerstein, violists Atar Arad, Kim Kashkashian and Nobuko Imai, and cellists Peter Wiley and Ralph Kirshbaum.

Sarah began her musical studies on the piano at age nine and was later introduced to the cello at age twelve. She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where she pursued a Bachelor of Music studying with Peter Wiley. Previous teachers include Efe Baltacigil and Hans Jørgen Jensen. She recently received her Master’s Degree from the USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles studying under the tutelage of Ralph Kirshbaum. Sarah is currently based in New York City and Seattle, WA.

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Itamar Zorman, Violin
Sun. July 19, 2020 Smith College Sage Hall
10:30am Violin Masterclass
2:30pm Recital with pianist Liza Stepanova

The recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a Borletti-Buitoni Trust award, Itamar Zorman was also joint winner of the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition. Other competition successes include first prize at the 2010 International Violin Competition of Freiburg and the Juilliard Berg Concerto Competition in April 2010.

As a soloist, Itamar Zorman has appeared with, among others, the American Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, Het Gelders Orkest in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Tokyo Symphony in Japan’s Suntory Hall, as well as the Jerusalem Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, Haifa Symphony, Polish Radio Chamber Orchestra, Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim, Philharmonie Baden Baden, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and the Russian State Symphony Orchestra “Novaya Rossiya. In November 2014 he made his Italian debut at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo playing the Beethoven concerto with Daniel Oren, and in January 2015, his Korean debut with the KBS symphony Orchestra and Yoel Levi.

The 2015-16 season includes Itamar Zorman’s debut with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse conducted by Joseph Swensen, a tour of Brazil with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Frédéric Chaslin and concerto appearances in Italy at the Mito Settembre Musica Festival in Turin and Teatro Filarmonico di Verona with the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Orchestra and Gintaras Rinkevicius. Other concerto appearances include the Santa Fe Symphony and Pennsylvania Center Orchestras in the USA, the Pan Asia Symphony in Hong Kong, the Vojvodina Symphony Orchestra in Serbia and the Israeli Kibbutz Orchestra. In January 2016, at the invitation of Mitsuko Uchida, he lead the Mahler Chamber Orchestra on a European tour of Mozart concerti. A regular at the Marlboro Music Festival, Itamar Zorman has also appeared at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, the Verbier Festival, the Louvre recital series in Paris, the Kronberg Academy Festival and the Copenhagen Summer Festival. In November 2014, he gave his Carnegie Hall recital debut, as part of the ‘Distinctive Debuts’ series in Weill Recital Hall. Itamar Zorman has also recently given recitals in the Laeiszhalle Hamburg, the HR-Sendesaal Frankfurt and the Kolarac Hall in Belgrade.

His first solo CD recording, entitled ‘Portrait’, and featuring works by Messiaen, Schubert, Chausson, Hindemith and Brahms was released in Europe in August 2014 and the US in February 2015) by Profil - Editions Günther Hänssler.

As a chamber musician, Zorman has appeared at the Lincoln Center, Zankel and Weill Recital Halls in Carnegie Hall, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He is a founding member of the Israeli Chamber Project, and a member of the Lysander Piano Trio, with which he won the 2012 Concert Artists Guild Competition, the Grand Prize in the 2011 Coleman Chamber Music Competition, 1st prize in the 2011 Arriaga Competition, and a bronze medal in the 2010 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

Itamar Zorman is a recipient of scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, and has taken part in numerous master classes around the world, working with Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman, Shlomo Mintz, Ida Handel and Ivry

Born in Tel-Aviv in 1985 to a family of musicians, Itamar Zorman began his violin studies at the age of six with Saly Bockel at the Israeli Conservatory of Music in Tel-Aviv. He graduated in 2003 and continued his studies with Professor David Chen and Nava Milo. He received his Bachelor of Music from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance as a student of Hagai Shaham. He received his Master's of Music from The Juilliard School in 2009, where he studied with Robert Mann and Sylvia Rosenberg, and received an Artist Diploma from Manhattan School of Music in 2010, and an Artist Diploma from Julliard in 2012, studying with Ms. Rosenberg. He later Continued his studies with Christian Tetzlaff and Mauricio Fuks at The Kronberg Academy.

Itamar Zorman plays on a 1734 Guarneri Del Jesù from the collection of Yehuda Zisapel


Guest Collaborative Pianist

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Liza Stepanova, Piano
Sun. July 19, 2020 Smith College Sage Hall
2:30pm Recital with violinist Itamar Zorman

Praised by The New York Times for her “thoughtful musicality” and “fleet-fingered panache,” Liza Stepanova is in demand as a soloist, collaborator, and educator. She has performed extensively in Europe, most recently, as a soloist with the Southwest-German Philharmonic and in chamber music performances at the Berlin Museum of Musical Instruments and Belgrade’s Kolarac Hall. In the United States, she has appeared in Weill and Zankel Recital Halls at Carnegie; Alice Tully Hall, Merkin and Steinway halls in New York City; at the Kennedy Center and The Smithsonian in Washington, DC; and live on WQXR New York, WFMT Chicago, and WETA Washington. Stepanova has twice been a soloist with the Juilliard Orchestra led by James DePreist and Nicholas McGegan and was a top prizewinner at the Liszt-Garrison, Juilliard Concerto, Steinway, and Ettlingen competitions.

As a member of the Lysander Piano Trio, she won the 2012 Concert Artists Guild Competition and received the Grand Prize at the 2011 Coleman Competition. The Trio gave its Kaufman Center and Weill Hall recital debuts in 2014 to enthusiastic reviews, has commissioned two world premieres, and recently released its debut CD After A Dream, which garnered positive reviews from The New York Times’s Classical Playlist, WQXR, and Minnesota Public Radio.

The 2017-2018 season will see the release of Stepanova’s first solo piano CD, recorded in New York City with Grammy Award-winning producer Adam Abeshouse. The recording features music from Bach to Ligeti that was inspired by visual art. Other season highlights include an Albany Records release featuring world premiere recordings of chamber music by composer Tom Cipullo, solo recitals in Atlanta, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and New York City, a residency at the University of North Texas, and chamber music performances at the Resonant Bodies Festival in New York City, Princeton University Summer Concerts, and at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Palm Beach.

Stepanova has performed as a soloist and chamber musician at international festivals at Castleton, La Jolla, Music@Menlo, Mostly Mozart, Copenhagen (Denmark), and Davos (Switzerland), where she had opportunities to collaborate with leading artists including violinist Cho-Liang Lin, violist James Dunham, clarinetist Charles Neidich, soprano Lucy Shelton, mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer and members of the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and the Atlanta Symphony. Deeply committed to new music, she has premiered works by Jennifer Higdon and Libby Larsen and worked with composers William Bolcom, Gabriela Lena Frank, and John Harbison.

Liza Stepanova studied art song collaboration with Wolfram Rieger in Berlin and was invited by the late Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau to perform in several of his master classes including the Hugo-Wolf-Tage festival in Austria. Since 2010, Stepanova has been on the faculty at SongFest at The Colburn School in Los Angeles and also served as the festival’s Associate Artistic Director and Piano Program Director for two years.

Stepanova received her DMA from The Juilliard School with a Richard F. French Award for outstanding doctoral work. Previously a graduate of the Hanns Eisler Academy in Berlin, Germany, she studied with Joseph Kalichstein, Seymour Lipkin, Jerome Lowenthal, and George Sava, and performed in master classes for Alfred Brendel, Daniel Barenboim and András Schiff. Following teaching positions at The Juilliard School and Smith College, she is currently an assistant professor of piano at the University of Georgia, Hugh Hodgson School of Music.