San Juan Chamber MusicFest
The San Juan Chamber MusicFest is one of OCPAG’s flagship events. The MusicFest features a trio of musicians of international renown, under the artistic direction of pianist Max Levinson. The musicians come to Ouray County for a whole week in the late summer, producing a number of concerts and events throughout the county.
Programs generally include an informal “Classical Café,” a family concert, a traditional classical concert, master classes and an intimate dinner salon concert in a private home.
Levinson, as artistic director, is a constant presence at MusicFest with his sparkling piano virtuosity. The San Fransisco Chronicle has proclaimed him “one of the brightest, most intellectually fearless pianists of his generation.”
Each year, Levinson selects two guest musicians to perform with him at MusicFest. In 2013, guest musicians included violinist Nurit Pacht and cellist Brinton Smith. Music educator and classical guitarist Vami Ramos completed the ensemble, portraying “Wolfgang Amadeus Schmutzinberry” in a delightfully whimsical family concert.
Other featured guest musicians in recent years have included violinists Irina Muresanu and Catherine Leonard, violinist/violist Patrick Shaughnessy, cellists Allison Eldredge, Thomas Landschoot and Felix Fan and clarinetist Caroll McGonnell.
MusicFest concerts showcase the full repertoire of chamber music classics by the great composers, as well as more contemporary and lesser-known pieces. Watch this space for more information about the 2014 MusicFest as it comes together.
Photos from the 2013 San Juan Chamber MusicFest:
Meet the Musicians:
Max Levinson, Artistic Director, Piano
Pianist Max Levinson is known as an intelligent and sensitive artist with a fearless technique. The Washington Post writes, “You can hear gasps in the audience – Max Levinson displays technical wizardry. His playing has solid, assured technique, clarity of vision and a sense of the permanent values in music that underlie surface variations.” He has performed as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Colorado Symphony, New World Symphony, Boston Pops, San Antonio Symphony, Louisville Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, and in recital at New York’s Lincoln Center, Washington DC’s Kennedy Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, Zürich’s Tonhalle, the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, Jordan Hall in Boston, and throughout the US, Canada, and Europe.
Levinson’s international career was launched when he won First Prize at the 1997 Dublin International Piano Competition, the first American to achieve this distinction. He then received overwhelming critical acclaim for his two solo recordings on N2K Encoded Music, and was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in March 1999. Most recently he was awarded the 2005 Andrew Wolf Award, given biannually to a pianist for achievement as a chamber musician.
Max Levinson is a graduate of Harvard and the New England Conservatory, receiving an Artist Diploma and the Gunther Schuller Medal. His teachers include Patricia Zander, Aube Tzerko and Bruce Sutherland. An active chamber musician, Levinson has collaborated with such artists as Pinchas Zukerman, the Tokyo , Vermeer, Mendelssohn, and Borromeo Quartets, and regularly appears at major music festivals including Santa Fe , Marlboro, Tanglewood, La Jolla, Killington, and Switzerland ‘s Davos Festival.
He is currently on the faculty at Boston Conservatory and Brown University and is a Steinway Artist. He lives in Boston with his wife, cellist Allison Eldredge, and their daughters Natalie and Jessica.
Guest musicians from 2013 San Juan Chamber MusicFest:
Nurit Pacht, Violin
Violinist Nurit Pacht was selected as one of the “Stars of the Year 2000″ by Le Monde de la Musique and since then her career has blossomed with appearances in London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Moscow’s Great Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, Carnegie’s Weill Hall, The People’s Hall of China in Beijing and at Ravinia’s Rising Stars Series. Chosen by director Robert Wilson to be the featured musician in his multi-media piece Relative Light featuring solo violin works by John Cage’s and J.S. Bach, Nurit is equally at home in the standard repertoire as in the contemporary.
Last season, Nurit performed as soloist in collaboration with the dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones in one of Europe’s greatest Cathedrals, the Duomo in Milan as well as at Kennedy Center and on tour in many U.S. capitals with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company culminating in performances at the Lincoln Center Summer Festival. She is now in her third season serving as the artistic director of the “Alliance Players,” a dynamic group of musicians who perform innovative programs in New York City. Nurit performed in duo recitals with Philip Glass playing the composer’s works for violin and piano.
Brinton Smith, Cello
Praised by New York Newsday for “extraordinary musicianship…forceful, sophisticated and entirely in the spirit of the music,” American cellist Brinton Averil Smith’s performances have elicited rave reviews around the world, praising virtuosic performances and musical ideals rooted in the golden age of string playing. Smith’s debut recording of Miklós Rózsa’s Cello Concerto with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra on Koch Classics won widespread international critical acclaim, including the annual Gramophone Awards Issue which praised Smith as a “hugely eloquent, impassioned soloist,” and continued, “The sheer bravura of Smith’s reading is infectious.” His recording of Fauré’s Piano Trio and Après un Rêve with Gil Shaham was selected as one of BBC Music magazine’s best albums of the year and the American Record Guide praised their performance as “Stunningly beautiful”, continuing “I cannot imagine a better stylistic match for Shaham”
Mr. Smith has appeared regularly as a soloist with the Houston Symphony since joining the orchestra as principal cellist in 2005. Prior to this, he was the first musician chosen by Lorin Maazel to join the New York Philharmonic and the principal cellist of the San Diego and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras. Mr. Smith’s North American engagements have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Marlboro Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, the Banff Centre for the Arts and with orchestras throughout the country. His performances have been broadcast on CBS’s Sunday Morning and on the radio throughout the U.S., including NPR’s Performance Today and Symphonycast.
Rami Vamos, Music Educator
Rami is a performer, educator, writer and composer producing a wide array of creative output, ranging from Children’s musicals to chamber compositions. For the past ten years he has used these creations to share an appreciation of classical music with people of all ages. He is now serving as a teaching artist for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Portraying “Wolfgang Amadeus Schmutzinberry,” Rami will delight and educate us all!