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2019 FESTIVAL ARTISTS

Guest Artists

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Fei-Fei Dong, Piano
Sat. July 20, 2019 Smith College Sage Hall
10:00am Piano Masterclass
4:00pm Solo Recital

Praised for her “bountiful gifts and passionate immersion into the music she touches” (The Plain Dealer), pianist Fei-Fei is a winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition and a top finalist at the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. She continues to build a reputation for her poetic interpretations, charming audiences with her “passion, piquancy and tenderness” and “winning stage presence” (Dallas Morning News), both in the US and internationally, including her native China.

Her burgeoning career includes a number of prominent concerto engagements in 2018-19, highlighted by a Cliburn Laureates concert with the Fort Worth Symphony and her Carnegie Hall/Stern Auditorium debut with the award-winning New York Youth Symphony (followed by a tour of Spain with the NYYS).  These follow 2017-18 featured performances with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Long Beach Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, and the American Symphony Orchestra at the Bard Music Festival.

Fei-Fei’s busy 2018-19 recital itinerary features US performances from coast to coast—from California concerts at Pepperdine University Center for the Arts, Chico Performances at Cal State Chico, and Old Town Temecula Theatre to east coast series such as the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Brooks Center for the Arts at Clemson University, and Hamilton College Performing Arts Series in Clinton, NY.

Summer 2018 concerts include returns to the Bard Festival and Music Mountain Festival, and debuts at Gretna Music (PA) and the Huntington (NY) Summer Arts Festival, following up on such recent festival highlights as Bravo! Vail Valley, Music at Menlo, Busan International Music Festival (Korea), Nantucket Musical Arts Society, Lake George Music Festival, and the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival.

Fei-Fei was showcased prominently as a Cliburn finalist in the documentary film, Virtuosity, about the 2013 Cliburn Competition, which premiered on PBS in August 2015, and she has also been featured numerous times on New York’s WQXR radio. 

Additional career concerto highlights in the US include the Fort Worth Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Aspen Music Festival Orchestra, Spokane Symphony, Corpus Christi Symphony, Austin Symphony, Denver Philharmonic, Anchorage Symphony, Youngstown Symphony, and the Juilliard Orchestra. Internationally, she has performed with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Germany’s Baden-Baden Philharmonic, and in China with the Shanxi and Shenzhen Symphony Orchestras.  In December 2016, she performed the world premiere of Shaosheng Li's piano concerto Behind the Clouds with the China National Symphony at Beijing Concert Hall.  She has worked with such prominent conductors as Leonard Slatkin, Michael Stern, Jeffrey Kahane, Carl St. Clair, Leon Botstein, Randall Craig Fleisher, John Giordano, Yongyan Hu, and En Shao.

Fei-Fei has performed in recital at Alice Tully Hall as the winner of Juilliard’s 33rd Annual William Petschek Recital Award. Other notable recent recitals in the US include her Weill Recital Hall debut at Carnegie Hall, Gilmore Rising Stars (Kalamazoo, MI), the Smithsonian American Museum in DC, SUNY Purchase Performing Arts Center and The Cliburn’s spring 2015 Chopin Festival, and in Europe at the Auditorio Nacional de Madrid, Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall and the Louvre.

She is a member of the Aletheia Piano Trio, which debuted at the Kennedy Center in February 2014 as part of its Conservatory Project, and performs across the US and in Asia. Deeply committed to sharing her joy for music and connecting with communities, Fei-Fei also engages students and community audiences through frequent school and outreach concerts and master classes.

Born in Shenzhen, China, Fei-Fei began piano lessons at the age of 5. She moved to New York to study at The Juilliard School, where she earned her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees under the guidance of Yoheved Kaplinsky.


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Ayano Ninomiya, Violin
Sat. July 13, 2019 Smith College Sage Hall
1:00pm Violin Masterclass
4:00pm Recital with pianist Pei-Shan Lee


Praised by The New York Times as "deeply communicative and engrossing," violinist Ayano Ninomiya is committed to creating invigorating live performance experiences from concert stages to private homes and public schools. The Boston Globe wrote that, "A note from her was never just a note...Whatever project she takes on next, it is sure to be worth a listen."

Equally at home as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician, Ayano has performed throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Puerto Rico, Europe, China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand. In addition to recent performances at Weill Hall, Zankel Hall, and  Merkin Hall, she made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2016 with the Stravinsky Violin Concerto. Recent performances include solos with A Far Cry and the Jacksonville Symphony, as well as recitals at the Music Mountain Festival, the Sembrich Opera Museum, and the Moab Festival. She will also perform with Beaux Arts Series (FL), Chamber Music International (TX), Boston Chamber Music Series, and Chameleon Ensemble (MA), as well as at the Cooperstown, Orford (Canada), Bowdoin, Morningside Music, Interlochen Arts, and Anchorage chamber music festivals.

She has won numerous awards, including the Naumburg International Violin Competition, the Tibor Varga International Competition, Astral Artists National Auditions, and the Young Performer’s Career Advancement Award (APAP). As a recording artist, Ayano has released a variety of albums including a solo album of works for violin by Larry Bell and more recently, three albums as the first violinist of the Ying Quartet.

In 2012 Ayano was invited to give a TEDx talk at the University of Tokyo. Other past projects include a benefit performance for victims of the 2009 Haiti earthquake, a fundraiser in the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake with sumo wrestler Konishiki, and the creation of her own Elderhostel “Day of Adventure” programs in NYC that gave an insider's view of making music. As a recipient of the Frank Huntington Beebe Fellowship, Ayano conducted research of scores at the Bartók Archives in Budapest, Hungary.

During the summers, she has performed at the Marlboro, Ravinia, Kingston, Skaneateles, Caramoor, Bowdoin, and Moab music festivals, as well as at Prussia Cove's International Musicians Seminar, the Canberra International Festival (Australia), and the Adams Festival (New Zealand), among others. She has been invited to tour France and the west and east coasts of the U.S. and France with "Musicians from Marlboro" (Marlboro Festival) and "Musicians from the Steans Institute" (Ravinia Festival). She is also a founding member of the exciting conductorless string orchestra, ECCO (East Coast Chamber Orchestra), which is composed of soloists and leaders of quartets and orchestras from around the United States. Because of her own experience beginning the violin in a public school program in Boston at the age of seven, Ayano has given numerous programs for children across the U.S. from Bethlehem, New Hampshire to Columbia, Missouri, to Denton, Maryland, including many in the greater Philadelphia area.

After graduating from Harvard University and The Juilliard School, Ayano studied at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary. Her principal teachers and mentors were Miriam Fried, Robert Mann, Eszter Perenyi, Michele Auclair, and Robert Levin at Harvard. From 2010-2015, Ayano was first violinist of the renowned Ying Quartet and Associate Professor at the Eastman School of Music. In the fall of 2015 she joined the faculty of New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. She has been a volunteer tutor for at-risk high school students at the East Harlem Justice Center and volunteer at the Lighthouse Music School (NYC). In her spare time, she loves to paint and practice Aikido.


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Astrid Schween, cello
Sun. July 21, 2019 Smith College Sage Hall
10:00am Cello Masterclass
4:00pm Recital

New York born cellist Astrid Schween is an internationally recognized soloist, chamber artist, and teacher. In 2016, she joined the Juilliard String Quartet, succeeding her esteemed colleague Joel Krosnick, and became a member of the Juilliard Cello Faculty. In addition to her work with the JSQ, Ms. Schween remains active as a soloist, appearing this season in Boston, Oakland, Memphis, the International Cello Institute, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, and with the Boulder Philharmonic, performing the Elgar concerto.

She made her debut as soloist with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Zubin Mehta and received her degrees from the Juilliard School. Her teachers included Harvey Shapiro, Leonard Rose, Dr. H.T. Ma, Bernard Greenhouse and Jacqueline Du Pre, with whom she studied in London. She participated in the Marlboro Music Festival and William Pleeth Master Classes, and was on faculty at UMass Amherst, Hartt School of Music, Mount Holyoke College and Interlochen.

A former member of the Boston Trio and Lark Quartet, Ms. Schween performed at major venues around the world and received many honors including the Naumburg Chamber Music Award with the Lark. During her tenure, the quartet produced critically acclaimed recordings for the Arabesque, Decca/Argo, New World, CRI and Point labels, and commissioned numerous works.

An active juror and panelist, she has been featured in Strings and Strad magazines, on “Living the Classical Life,” NPR, The Violin Channel, CelloBello, and as a guest speaker at the Library of Congress. Following her solo cello album, "Rhapsody," Ms. Schween's current recording project covers the major Romantic cello sonatas with pianist Michael Gurt. Recent faculty appointments include the Sphinx Performance Academy, Tanglewood and the Perlman Music Program, where she succeeds celebrated cellist Ronald Leonard.


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Horszowski Trio
Jesse Mills, violin
Raman Ramakrishnan, cello
Rieko Aizawa, piano
Thurs. July 18, 2019 Smith College Sage Hall
1:30pm Chamber Group Masterclass
7:30pm Concert


Hailed by The New York Times as “impressive, lithe, persuasive,” when the members of the Horszowski Trio (Hor-SHOV- ski) – Jesse Mills, Raman Ramakrishnan, and Rieko Aizawa – played together for the first time, they immediately felt the spark of a unique connection. Many years of close friendship had created a deep trust between the players, which in turn led to exhilarating expressive freedom.

Two-time Grammy-nominated violinist Jesse Mills first performed with Raman Ramakrishnan, founding cellist of the prize-winning Daedalus Quartet, at the Kinhaven Music School over twenty years ago, when they were children. In New York City, they met pianist Rieko Aizawa, who, upon being discovered by the late violinist and conductor Alexander Schneider, had made her U.S. debuts at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Their musical bonds were strengthened at various schools and festivals around the world, including the Juilliard School and the Marlboro Festival.

In the four-year period following their debut performance at Rockefeller University in NYC in December 2011, they were booked for almost 200 concerts in the U.S. and tours of Japan and India. They have continued their successful rise in the chamber music world, earning the praise of critics and audiences alike. The New Yorker has called them "the most compelling American group to come on the scene." The trio will return to Asia for another tour in the Fall of 2018, and they will make their European debut in 2019, including a performance at London's Wigmore Hall.

They often collaborate with guest musicians, including violists, clarinetists and singers. Recent guests include members of the Guarneri, Pacifica and Tokyo Quartets.

Ms. Aizawa was the last pupil of the legendary pianist, Mieczysław Horszowski (1892-1993), at the Curtis Institute. The Trio takes inspiration from Mr. Horszowski’s musicianship, integrity, and humanity. Like Horszowski, the Trio presents repertoire spanning the traditional and the contemporary. As an ensemble-in-residence of the Electric Earth Concerts, the Trio premiered the work by Eric Moe “Welcome to Phase Space” in 2014. They have also recorded “For Daniel” by Joan Tower for a part of the celebration album of the composer’s 75th birthday. The violinist of the Trio, Jesse Mills, who is also a composer and arranger, has written a work for the group “Painted Shadow,” which was commissioned by and premiered at Bargemusic in Brooklyn, NY in January, 2015.

In addition, they seek to perform works from the trove of composers with whom Horszowski had personal contact, such as Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Martinu, Villa-Lobos, and Granados. Their debut recording, an album of works by Fauré, Saint-Saëns, and D’Indy – in memory of Mieczysław Horszowski – was released by Bridge Records in 2014. Gramophone called them "a highly accomplished group," and raved: "exemplary performance... I long to hear more of the Horszowski Trio." After their successful debut recording, they have two more upcoming projects with Bridge Records: an All-Schumann Piano Trios disc, as well as an All-Brahms Piano Quartets set with Masumi Per Rostad from the Pacifica Quartet.

Based in New York City, the Horszowski Trio is Ensemble-in-Residence at the Longy School of Music of Bard College.


Guest Collaborative Pianists

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Pei-Shan Lee, Pianist
Sat. July 13, 2019 Smith College Sage Hall
4:00pm Recital with Violinist Ayano Ninomiya

Pianist Pei-Shan Lee has toured the world as a duo and chamber music partner in concerts including the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Boston's Jordan Hall, Cleveland’s Severance Hall, Taiwan’s National Concert Hall, venues in France, Germany, Belgium, Israel, and throughout the United States. A member of New England Conservatory's Collaborative Piano and Chamber Music Faculty, she has worked with the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s guest conductors and soloists, and is seen as a pianist in the documentaries 'The Portrait' on the life of violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and in 'Talent Has Hunger' on cellist and teacher Paul Katz.

In recent summers, Ms. Lee has performed at the Mostly Mozart Festival, Caramoor Festival, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Rockport Chamber Music Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Heifetz International Music Institute, Chautauqua Institute, Music Academy of the West, Pro Quartet in France, Great Wall Academy in Beijing, Formosa Chamber Music Festival in Taiwan, and the International Piano Festivals in Spain and Russia.

A native of Taiwan, Ms. Lee came to the U.S. after winning the Youth Division of Taiwan’s National Piano Competition. She is frequently invited for guest residency and master class in the U.S., China, and Taiwan. Her doctoral thesis “The Collaborative Pianist: Balancing Roles in Partnership” has become an important resource for researchers and schools wishing to begin a Collaborative Piano program.

A passionate advocate advancing the art and education of instrumental collaboration, Ms. Lee created a new MM in Collaborative Piano at California State University in 2013. She also serves on the faculty of the Perlman Music Program’s winter residency in Sarasota, and in the summer directs the Collaborative Piano Fellowship program at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine.