Mannes Sounds Festival Part 2

Performers from the 25th Anniversary Season of The Mannes Sounds Festival


Simone Dinnerstein: Hello. I'm Simone Dinnerstein. Tonight we are featuring the second of two episodes devoted to students from New York City's Mannes School of Music, who participated in this year's Mannes Sounds Festival, here on the McGraw Family's Young Artists Showcase.


Simone Dinnerstein: We're back for the second half of this two-part series on the Young Artists Showcase, which is generously underwritten by the The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation. We return for more performers from the Mannes Sounds Festival. The concert series was founded by artistic director of the Festival and chair of the Mannes piano department, Pavlina Dokovska, in 1999. The festival presents over 20 annual concerts performed by Mannes's talented students, in addition to masterclasses and lectures by distinguished faculty members and renowned guest artists. The events are held at various prestigious New York City concert venues and cultural institutions.

This year, Mannes Sounds celebrates its 25th anniversary, as well as Mannes becoming an All-Steinway School. The students that we will hear tonight were drawn from a variety of concerts that were presented this season. They are joining us from WQXR studio. We are going to start with some Granados, his Allegro de Concierto, performed here by pianist Rosemary Mantchev.

[MUSIC - Granados: Allegro de concierto - Rosemary Mantchev, piano]

Simone Dinnerstein: That was pianist Rosemary Mantchev playing Granados' Allegro de Concierto. Last year, we had the opportunity to meet pianist-composer A Bu on another Young Artists Showcase episode devoted to Mannes Piano students. A Bu, welcome back.

A Bu: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be back.

Simone Dinnerstein: Oh, it's great to see you. I just recently had one of my students play one of your pieces, so it's very exciting.

A Bu: Yes, that's actually the piece that was programmed in the last year, the New Year's show.

Simone Dinnerstein: Yes, that has a beautiful name, remember?

A Bu: It's called Sleeping in a Dream. [chuckles]

Simone Dinnerstein: Yes, Sleeping in a Dream. Today we're going to hear a work that you composed for flute and piano.

A Bu: Right. This is actually one of my most recent work. This was completed in January this year. Well, it's world premiere took place in China, where I was playing this in a city named Suzhou. I played this with the principal flutist from the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra. We had a chamber concert there. Apparently, yesterday, we, together with the the flutist, you're going to hear in a second, Carina Geist, we play this in Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in the Mannes Sounds Festival's Finale Concert.

Simone Dinnerstein: Wonderful. You wrote this for a very special flutist that is very well-known to this program.

A Bu: Well, I only found out that just now, [chuckles] yes. I wrote the three pieces for flute and piano, especially for a very good friend of mine, Emi Ferguson.

Simone Dinnerstein: You were inspired to write for her or did she commission it free from you?

A Bu: We have had several times to collaborate together. This one time is during my high school's graduation concert. I asked her if she would be interested in playing something. Actually, we played the piece of my Bach that has a lot of improv sections, almost like a jazz piece, but because she's so interested in improvising the Baroque style, I think she can take up the- not a challenge to her but really an opportunity to play something more modern, contemporary.

Simone Dinnerstein: Are there parts of this piece where the flutist has to improvise?

A Bu: Not for the piece today.

Simone Dinnerstein: Okay.

A Bu: No. This is thoroughly composed. Actually, I remember the first movement, I had to sketch for almost, I think, two years, the opening melody, those staccatos, but I never continued it. It was due to the reason that the concert I was talking about in China, they asked me if I wanted to play any of my chamber pieces, and I thought, "This is a time to finish it."

Simone Dinnerstein: Okay, yes.

A Bu: I haven't played with Emi for so long. The last time must have been at least four or five years ago.

Simone Dinnerstein: I see. Well, it's interesting because when I was listening to you warming up, the first movement reminded me very much of a Suite by Claude Bolling that was written for Jean-Pierre Rampal. It's something that I've loved for many years. You said you are not familiar with it.

A Bu: I'm not familiar, but I'm going to check out that piece.

Simone Dinnerstein: Yes, you should check it out because I think that he was like a jazz composer, a jazz pianist. I think that your writing is always an interesting-- It's more jazz than not, I would say, but it's crossing into contemporary-- It's kind of a fusion of contemporary classical and jazz, would you say?

A Bu: I think the more I try to define what is that, the more chance I'm going to fail at it. [laughs]

Simone Dinnerstein: That's great. Yes, don't put yourself into a box. [laughs] Well, let's enjoy listening to you and Carina Geist play your three pieces for flute and piano.

[MUSIC - A Bu: Three pieces for flute and piano, Allegro, Andantino, Vivace - Carina Geist, flute; A Bu, piano]

Simone Dinnerstein: That was three pieces for flute and piano by our guest, A Bu. He was playing the piano along with the flutist, Carina Geist. Going back in time, let's listen to a rare virtuoso work for piano by Tausig, his Ungarische Zigeunerweisen, performed here in WQXR studio by pianist Jiacheng Xu.

[MUSIC - Tausig: Ungarische Zigeunerweisen - Jiacheng Xu, piano]

Simone Dinnerstein: I don't think that that piece had enough notes in it. I think he was giving a list, [chuckles] a run for the money there. That was Tausig's Ungarische Zigeunerweisen played here in WQXR Studio by pianist Jiacheng Xu. You're listening to the McGraw Family's Young Artists Showcase on WQXR. I'm Simone Dinnerstein, and today we are in WQXR Studio with students from the Mannes School of Music. It's time for a quick break now, then I'll be back with more performances here on the McGraw Family's Young Artists Showcase.

Simone Dinnerstein: Welcome back. Tonight we are in WQXR Studio with students from the Mannes School of Music who participated in this year's Mannes Sounds Festival. After all of that keyboard virtuosity that we have been listening to, let's clear the air with a beautiful trio sonata by Bach, played here by pianist Nicolas Salloum, flutist Joohyung Park, and oboist Dylan Reynallt.

[MUSIC - JS Bach: Trio Sonata in G Major BWV 1038, I. Largo, II. Vivace, IV. Presto - Joohyung Park, flute; Dylan Reynallt, oboe; Nicolas Salloum, piano]

Simone Dinnerstein: That was the beautiful Trio Sonata in G Major BWV 1038 by JS Bach played here in our studio by flutist Joohyung Park, oboist Dylan Reynallt, and pianist Nicolas Salloum. A very important element of the Mannes Sounds Festival is presenting works by living composers. We are fortunate to present here on WQXR the second performance of Chomolungma, which was just premiered in Mannes Sound's final concert of the season at Weill Hall.

This is a work for piano by the Georgian composer George Oakley. George shared his description of the piece with me. He wrote, "In Western culture, Chomolungma is known as Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. It is also believed that somewhere in its vicinity lies the spiritual kingdom of Shamballa. I have always been fascinated by the idea of Mount Chomolungma and Shamballa, viewing them as symbols of life's highest purpose and humanity's greatest accomplishment.

In my composition, I crafted a story where the meaning of life is to climb to the highest point and discover the entrance to the spiritual world. The melody is structured to resemble a shape of a mountain featuring all seven steps of the scale from A to G across in three different layers. All three layers are bound by a recurring motion that symbolizes the search for a single pitch, which serves as the entrance to Shamballa. This pitch is unveiled towards the end of the piece during the final climax."

Wow, this sounds like it's going to be very exciting. Let's welcome back pianist, Nicolas Salloum to perform Chomolungma. [MUSIC - George Oakley: Chomolungma, Nicolas Salloum, piano]

Simone Dinnerstein: Wow. That was a very ecstatic ending to George Oakley's Chomolungma, played here in WQXR studio by the beautiful pianist, Nicolas Salloum. We are going to end the episode with Red Clay & Mississippi Delta, a wonderful woodwind quintet by composer and flutist, Valerie Coleman. Valerie was the creator of the eminent quintet, Imani Winds. She has been on the faculty of the Mannes School of Music and was just appointed to the composition faculty of the Julliard School. Flutist Claudia Montoya-Hernandez is going to tell us a little about what we can expect in this quintet. Welcome, Claudia.

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: Hi. Thank you so much.

Simone Dinnerstein: Are you also a private flute student with Valerie Coleman at Mannes?

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: No. I study with Judith Mendenhall at Mannes, but yes I've worked with Valerie Coleman as well.

Simone Dinnerstein: You have. Okay. Tell us about this piece.

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: This piece is it basically combines a musical [unintelligible 00:48:52] with what is it like to live in the South. There are a lot of ways in which Valerie Coleman reflects that authentic experience through music. One of the most interesting and fun things is that each instrument represents one of her family members. Throughout the piece, you can see how we interact with each other and have conversations and discussions. At some point, we even, I think, personally, we start dancing together.

Simone Dinnerstein: Oh, wow. I know that there's a special part where you don't even play your instruments.

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: Right.


Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: That part is so much fun when we play it live because we get the audience to interact with [crosstalk]

Simone Dinnerstein: Oh, you do?

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: Yes. We try to look at them and snap. [chuckles]

Simone Dinnerstein: Oh, okay, yes. When you're at home listening to the radio, you should listen and listen out for the snapping and join in.

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: Exactly, and join. [chuckles]

Simone Dinnerstein: [chuckles] I'm curious about if there's any element that is like jazz in the piece too.

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: Yes. Yes, yes, yes. A lot of melodic lines include the blue note. You can see that and hear it throughout. It has this bluesy like style throughout the piece. Definitely, that's a huge part of--

Simone Dinnerstein: That must be a lot of fun to play.

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: Oh, definitely. It's very different from what we play usually. We actually got to work with her, which was a lot of fun as well.

Simone Dinnerstein: Oh, that's so great.

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: Yes.

Simone Dinnerstein: Wow.

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: She was our coach at the beginning when the quintet was just formed.

Simone Dinnerstein: Fantastic. The quintet's only been together for this academic year?

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: Exactly. Yes.

Simone Dinnerstein: Tell us the name of your quintet.

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: Our quintet is the Prime Street Woodwind Quintet. [crosstalk]

Simone Dinnerstein: Why Prime Street?

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: Because our school is on the 13th Street. Originally we were the 13th Street Wind Quintet, and we eventually changed it to Prime Street Woodwind Quintet.

Simone Dinnerstein: Oh, okay. Well, thank you so much, Claudia.

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: Thank you.

Simone Dinnerstein: I can't wait to hear the Prime Street Wind Quintet play.

Claudia Montoya-Hernandez: Thank you. Thank you for having us.

Simone Dinnerstein: Let's welcome your colleagues to perform Valerie Coleman's Red Clay & Mississippi Delta.

[MUSIC - Valerie Coleman: Red Clay & Mississippi Delta - Claudia Montoya-Hernandez, flute; Daniel Gurevich, oboe; Haoru Liu, clarinet; Trey Coudret, bassoon; Luisito Montesdeoca, horn]

Simone Dinnerstein: What a wonderful piece. That was Valerie Coleman's Red Clay & Mississippi Delta, played by the Prime Street Wind Quintet from The Mannes School of Music. That was Claudia Montoya-Hernandez on flute, Daniel Gurevich on oboe, Haoru Liu on clarinet, Trey Coudret on bassoon, and Luisito Montesdeoca on horn.

You've been listening to students from The Mannes School of Music who performed at this year's Mannes Sounds Festival. Thank you to all of them for coming to WQXR Studio. That completes this week's edition of the McGraw Family's Young Artists Showcase, which is generously underwritten on WQXR by the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation. Here's Terry McGraw with more.

Terry McGraw: I know it sounds a little cliché to say that music is international, but it really truly is for the Young Artists Showcase. We have helped develop young musicians that literally participate all around the world. No wonder we all are so proud of Young Artists Showcase and so pleased that you can enjoy these superb programs with all of us every week on WQXR.

Simone Dinnerstein: Thank you, Terry. Many thanks to our WQXR production team, Laura Boyman, Max Fine, Amy Buchanan, and Eileen Delehanty. Our session engineer is Irene Trudel. Our generous program underwriter is the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Family Foundation. I'm Simone Dinnerstein. Good night.


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