Intercultural Journeys: Songs for Peace
The Apple Hill String Quartet, with special guests Kinan Azmeh and Sally Pinkas
The concert will feature the Philadelphia premiere of Traces (for clarinet, piano, and string quartet) and A Muffled Scream (for clarinet), both by Emmy-nominated composer (and IJ friend) Kareem Roustom. These compositions were co-commissioned by the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, The Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College, and the Gammage Auditorium Series at Arizona State University. Kareem wrote the works in the wake of the crisis facing his home country of Syria; they give voice to both the beauty of the culture and the catastrophe of the current war. We're also pleased to announce that Kareem will be on hand to personally introduce the two pieces.
Listen to a Pre-Concert Podcast here!
The Apple Hill String Quartet has earned accolades from around the world for their interpretive mastery of such traditional repertoire as Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, and Ravel — along with their special dedication to seldom heard masterworks and contemporary music. They have performed concerts extensively throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia as part of Apple Hill’s innovative Playing for Peace™ program.
Education is an integral part of the quartet’s mission — therefore they have conducted mini-residencies in embassies, communities, schools and universities locally in the Monadnock region, nationally in the major U.S. cities, and throughout the world in such faraway places as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Algiers, Cyprus, Ireland, England, Burma, Vietnam, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Russia. They also spend countless hours as dedicated teacher-performers at Apple Hill’s renowned Summer Chamber Music Workshop, held each summer on the 100-acre Apple Hill campus.
As 21st-century musicians, the quartet is deeply committed to the commissioning of new works. Their recent commission by composer and long-time “Apple Hiller” Daniel Sedgwick was premiered at Apple Hill in 2009 and performed to critical acclaim throughout the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. Their project, Around the World with Playing for Peace, features the rich multicultural repertoire of works and compositions associated with countries visited through the Playing for Peace program, as seen through the lens of the string quartet. Featured composers have included Victor Ullman (String Quartet #3, written in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp), Turkish composer Ekrem Zeki Ün, Armenian composers Alan Hovhaness and A. Zohrabian, Syrian composer Kareem Roustom, and American composers Roger Sessions, John Harbison, Tom Oboe Lee, Larry Siegel, and Charles Ives.
The quartet is comprised of Elise Kuder and Colleen Jennings, violins, Michael Kelley, viola, and Rupert Thompson, violoncello.
Hailed as a “virtuoso” by The New York Times and praised for his "incredibly rich sound" by the CBC, Kinan Azmeh is one of Syria’s rising stars. His utterly distinctive sound across different musical genres is now fast gaining international recognition.
Born in Damascus, Kinan was the first Arab to win the premier prize at the 1997 Nicolai Rubinstein International Competition, Moscow. A graduate of New York's Juilliard school as a student of Charles Neidich, and of both the Damascus High institute of Music where he studied with Shukry Sahwki, Nicolay Viovanof and Anatoly Moratof, and Damascus University’s School of Electrical Engineering, Kinan is currently finishing his doctoral work at the City University of New York.
Kinan has appeared worldwide as a soloist, composer and improviser. Notable appearances include: Opera Bastille, Paris; Tchaikovsky Grand Hall, Moscow; Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and the UN's general assembly, New York; the Royal Albert hall, London; Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires; der Philharmonie; Berlin; the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, Washington DC; the Mozarteum, Salzburg and the Damascus opera house for its opening concert in his native Syria.
As classical Clarinetist, he has appeared as soloist with the Bavarian radio orchestra, the West-eastern Divan orchestra, the Kiev Camerata, the Corasara Orchestra, and the Syrian symphony Orchestra among others.; and has shared the stage with Marcel Khalife, Daniel Barenboim, Zakir Hussein Francois Rabbath, Solhi-al-Wadi, Manfred Leuchter, Kevork Mourad, and members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, among others.
Compositions include several works for solo, orchestra, and chamber music; film, live illustration, and electronics. His discography include three albums with his ensemble HEWAR, several soundtracks for film and dance, and a duo album with pianist Dinuk Wijeratne. He serves as artistic director of the Damascus Festival Chamber Music Ensemble, with whom he released an album of new contemporary Syrian chamber music written especially for the ensemble by various composers and is on the advisory board of the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra.
Following her Wigmore Hall debut, Israeli-born pianist Sally Pinkas has been heard in recital at Italy’s Villa Serbelloni (Bellagio) and Villa Aurelia (Rome), Bulgaria’s National Gallery (Sofia) and Mirror Hall (Dobrich), in Israel, France and throughout the USA. Described by Gramophone Magazine as “...an artist who melds lucid textures with subtle expressive detailing, minus hints of bombast or mannerism...”, she has appeared as soloist with the Boston Pops, the Aspen Philharmonia, Jupiter Symphony and the Bulgarian Chamber Orchestra. Summer credits include festivals at Apple Hill, Rockport, Marlboro, Tanglewood and Aspen, as well as Kfar Blum (Israel), Officina Scotese (Italy) and Pontlevoy (France).
As a chamber musician, Pinkas explores a wide range of repertoire and genre. With husband Evan Hirsch (The Hirsch-Pinkas Piano Duo) she has toured China, Nigeria, Russia, Israel and Europe. The Duo has commissioned, premiered and recorded works by George Rochberg, Daniel Pinkham and Thomas Oboe Lee for the Naxos and Arsis labels. With her long-time partner flutist Fenwick Smith, Pinkas has recorded a 3-CD set featuring the music of Philippe Gaubert, as well as a Martinu selection (Naxos). She is a member of Ensemble Schumann (with oboist Tom Gallant and violist Steve Larson), and appears regularly with the Adaskin Trio, with whom she has released the Fauré Piano Quartets (MSR).
Pinkas’ solo CD releases include Debussy: Twelve Etudes and Estampes (Centaur), Bread and Roses: Piano works by Christian Wolff (Mode), and Rochberg: Piano Music Vols. III-IV (Naxos). Her recordings of Fauré’s Nocturnes (Musica Omnia) and works by Robert Schumann (MSR) have garnered significant critical acclaim.
Trained in the USA, Pinkas holds performance degrees from Indiana University and the New England Conservatory of Music, and a Ph.D. in Composition and Theory from Brandeis University. Her principal teachers were Russell Sherman, George Sebok, Luise Vosgerchian and Genia Bar-Niv (piano), Sergiu Natra (composition), and Robert Koff (chamber music). Pianist-in-residence at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College, she is Professor of Music at Dartmouth's Music Department.