It's Time to Meet the 2017 Avery Fisher Career Grant Recipients

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - 04:32 PM

 The 2017 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipients (L to R) pianist Haochen Zhang, violinist Stephen Waarts, and violinist Chad Hoopes, at the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR. The 2017 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipients (L to R) pianist Haochen Zhang, violinist Stephen Waarts, and violinist Chad Hoopes, at the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR. (© 2017 Steve J. Sherman)

The Avery Fisher Career Grant is given each year to no more than five exceptionally talented instrumentalists who exhibit outstanding potential for solo careers. And, as of 2004, the $25,000 grants can be awarded to chamber ensembles as well. There’s really no way around it — these musicians are recognized as some of the finest instrumentalists in America, and each year’s recipients join the ranks of recipients past that include Joshua Bell, Yuja Wang and Edgar Meyer.

Watch the announcement here, then get to know the 2017 recipients below.


Dover Quartet

Violinists Joel Link and Bryan Lee; Violist Milena Pajaro-Van de Stadt; and cellist Camden Shaw constitute the chamber ensemble named for Curtis Institute alumnus Samuel Barber’s Dover Beach. It was formed in 2008, but rocketed towards international recognition after a clean sweep of the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition. Last year, the Curtis- and Rice-educated musicians made their debut on a number of stages and events, including that of Carnegie Hall and the Lucerne Festival. The 2016-17 holds no shortage of big moments either; the Quartet is slated to release its debut album of Mozart fare and perform the complete Beethoven quartet cycles — all while completing over 100 concerts across the globe.

Now, check out the Quartet performing the minuet from Mozart’s Second Prussian Quartet, from a Mozart Birthday celebration at the Greene Space earlier this year. (They begin around the 21:50 mark.)

Chad Hoopes

“Enormous stamina” and “zippy sound” are the sort of colorful complements that would simultaneously make one cock their head and put a smile on their face, but those are just the phrases The New York Times used to describe the rising talent Chad Hoopes. The Florida-born and Boston-based violinist began training in Minneapolis at the age of three, and later studied under David Cerone and Joel Smirnoff at the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 2014, Hoopes released his debut album, a recording of Mendelssohn and John Adams concertos, and earned membership with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two Program. His musical might is best illustrated by his tenure as the Munich Symphony Orchestra’s first Artist in Residence — it was a position created just for him.

Now watch 18-year old Hoopes, then a Minnesota Public Radio artist-in-residence, make his way around a Bach Sonata.


Stephen Waarts

Before his 18th birthday, this Bay Area violinist competed took top prize in the 2013 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, earning him a coveted spot on the roster. Waarts has also competed in the 2013 Montreal International Competition (Second Prize and Audience Prize); the 2014 Menuhin Competition (First Prize); and the 2015 Queen Elisabeth Violin Competition (Fifth Prize, both Audience Prizes). His personal concert repertoire is a breath of fresh air, as he embraces both well-known and rarely performed concertos in addition to his solo recitals and chamber ventures. In this upcoming season, Waarts will be performing alongside the Orchestra of St. Lukes as he makes his New York Concerto debut at Lincoln Center’s Young Artists Gala.

Here’s Stephen’s semi-finals performance of Eugene Ysaye’s Sonata No. 4, at the 2015 Queen Elisabeth Violin Competition:


Haochen Zhang

The 2014 BBC Proms featured the festival debut of a Chinese-American pianist leading a performance of Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Critics were blown away by his mastery and recognized him as the brightest spot on the stage. Zhang was 24-years old then, and that striking performance came five years after the gold-medal performance at the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition familiarized the world with the virtuoso. Zhang enjoys great popularity in his native China, making a number of guest appearances over the years and touring there with the Munich Philharmonic in 2013. His next album, to be released in the upcoming season, features an interpretation of selected works of Schumann, Janacek and Liszt. He will also be touring throughout Asia, with performances in China, Hong Kong and Japan.

Here’s Zhang securing his Cliburn gold medal, with an excerpt from Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit.




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