LSM Newswire

Friday, December 4, 2009

The SoNoRo Association and the Romanian Cultural Institute Present the Ensemble Raro in its Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall Debut Tuesday February 16




The Ensemble Raro, resident ensemble of Bucharest’s SoNoRo Festival, will make its Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall debut on Tuesday, February 16, 2010, at 7:30 p.m. The concert will be presented by the SoNoRo Association and the Romanian Cultural Institute. The ensemble, with mezzo-soprano Roxana Constantinescu, will perform works by Schumann, Enescu and Vasks.

The Ensemble Raro, comprised of Diana Ketler, piano, Alexander Sitkovetsky, violin, Razvan Popovici, viola, and Bernhard Naoki Hedenborg, cello, is, in effect, bringing the SoNoRo Festival on tour.

The complete program is as follows:

Robert Schumann: Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47

George Enescu: Sept chansons de Clèment Marot

(Roxana Constantinescu, mezzo-soprano; Diana Ketler, piano)

Peteris Vasks: Quartet for Piano, Violin, Viola, and Cello

Tickets for the February 16 concert at $15 to $40 are available online at; by telephone at Carnegie Charge, (212) 247-7800, or by visiting the Carnegie Hall Box Office at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan.

“It is thrilling for us to bring a sampling of the SoNoRo Festival to New York,” stated Razvan Popovici, as spokesman for the ensemble. “We have established ourselves in the European cultural scene as a young, innovative and unconventional festival -- a festival which seeks to build a new musical future full of creative potential and enthusiasm, while maintaining respect for the great traditions of the past. We are proud to be an essential part of the revival of the chamber music tradition in Romania and are especially happy to share it with American audiences through the performance at Carnegie Hall.

“We are also excited to present the Piano Quartet by the Latvian composer Peteris Vasks. This work has special significance for us and carries a deeply personal, truly humanistic message. We premiered the Quartet in the UK, Germany and Switzerland, as well as working closely with the composer on this piece. The Quartet reflects both the emotional journey of a modern man and the history of a nation going through the turmoil of the 20th century. The honesty of Peteris Vasks’s music has left a profound impression on the audiences all over the world.”

George Enescu, the main musical figure of Romania, is a special connection between the SoNoRo Festival in Bucharest and the Romanian Cultural Institute, whose mission is to bring Romanian culture to worldwide awareness.

“Enescu,” says Popovici, was the musical ‘enfant terrible’ of Romania -- violinist, composer, conductor, pianist and pedagogue. He is represented on the program with one of his masterworks, the Sept chansons de Clèment Marot for mezzo-soprano and piano. As a child prodigy, Enescu started composing at the age of five, entering the Vienna Conservatoire at the age of seven and graduating at thirteen. He then continued his studies at the Paris Conservatoire with Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré. In 1923, Enescu made his debut as a conductor in New York with The Philadelphia Orchestra and, in 1936, was one of the candidates to replace Arturo Toscanini as conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He was one of the most renowned violin teachers of the time; among his pupils were Yehudi Menuhin, Christian Ferras, Arthur Grumiaux, Ivry Gitlis and Ida Haendel. The famous Ysaÿe Ballade was dedicated to Enescu and Marcel Proust was inspired by his performance of the Violin Sonata by César Franck.”

About Ensemble Raro:

Ensemble Raro was formed in 2004 by four extraordinary young musicians. Their goal is to create unforgettable musical performances and to combine an innovative approach with the rich European tradition of intimate and genuine chamber music making.

The inspiration for the ensemble’s name comes from Robert Schumann’s invented alter ego, Master Raro - a member of the Davidsbund and a mediator between Florestan and Eusebius, the two characters that were Schumann’s musical doubles and the contrasting voices of his

creative psyche. Master Raro was, therefore, something of a balancing force, representing sound judgment and the need to find unconventional ways of moving forward. In this sense, Ensemble Raro is constantly looking for new contrasting, program forms in which to establish fresh cultural, musical and literary connections. Since the members of Ensemble Raro are also in great demand as solo artists, it gives them even more possibilities to create different programs, ranging from solo pieces to quartets.

Ensemble Raro is the ensemble in residence at the SoNoRo Festival in Bucharest, Chiemgauer Musikfruehling Festival in Traunstein, Kobe International Music Festival, Pèlèrinages in Munich and Le Faure/Bordeaux. By creating these festivals, the ensemble has full artistic liberty: it has improvised with DJs, created multimedia shows with VJs from Japan and Romania, and developed literary soirées on love, Paul Wittgenstein and Bulgakow’s Master and Margarita with the actor Karl Markovics and the writer Lea Singer. Ensemble Raro is actively involved in performing contemporary chamber music repertoire, presenting the British and German premieres of Peteris Vasks’s Piano Quartet. The ensemble’s performances of Walter Braunfels’s and George Enescu’s works in the Pèlèrinages series in Munich received much critical acclaim.

Ensemble Raro’s partners in various chamber music formations included Daishin Kashimoto, Konstantin Lifschitz, Adrian Brendel, Claudio Bohorquez, Baiba Skride, Carolin Widmann, Alina Pogostkina, Marlis Petersen, Mark Padmore and other celebrated musicians. The Ensemble recently performed in the Boswil Summer Festival (Switzerland), St.Gallen Festival and Gmunden Festspiele (Austria), Riga Chamber Music Days (Latvia), Schloss Elmau and Schloss Filseck (Germany) and in Music at Plush Festival (UK). Since 2006, the Ensemble Raro has toured annually in Japan.

Besides regular collaboration with the Bavarian Radio, Ensemble Raro’s performances have been broadcast on NHK/Japan; Südwestdeutscher Rundfunk in Germany; Romanian National Television and Romanian Broadcasting Corporation; Swiss Radio; Latvian National Radio; and Radio France International.

In the last two years the Ensemble Raro released three CDs. The first, Songs and Dances of Life, was described by Radio France International as “an exceptional project.” About Canti Drammatici featuring piano quartets of Brahms and Vasks, Gramophone Magazine wrote: “Ensemble Raro bring a feisty application, impeccable polish and lively imagination to Brahms’s stormy C minor Piano Quartet...” The Seasons was released in autumn 2008 in cooperation with the SoNoRo Festival and features works by this name by Antonio Vivaldi and Astor Piazzolla.

The Ensemble Raro regularly gives master classes in Romania, Italy and Japan, and developed SoNoRo - INTERFERENCES, an extended educational project dedicated to the most talented young Romanian musicians.

In addition to the Zankel Hall concert, during the 2009/2010 season, Ensemble Raro will give debut recitals also in Vienna (Konzerthaus and Musikverein), Tokyo (Musashino Hall), and London (Wigmore Hall).

About the Individual Musicians

Diana Ketler, Piano

Diana Ketler was born in Riga into a well-known family of musicians and made her debut at the age of 11 under the baton of Vassily Sinaisky. Diana studied at the Latvian Academy of Music, the Mozarteum Academy in Salzburg, and the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Ms. Ketler has given recitals in many of the world’s most prestigious venues including the Bridgewater Hall (Manchester), Glenn Gould Studios (Toronto), Tokyo Opera City Hall and Suntory Hall (Tokyo), Atheneum (Bucharest), Southbank Centre and Cadogan Hall (London), and has appeared as soloist with orchestras including the Salzburger Kammerphilharmonie, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester, Sinfonietta Riga and Latvian National Symphony Orchestra. Her engagements have included performances at the Gstaad Musiksommer Festival, St-Gallen Musikfestival, Carinthischer Sommer, Oxford Chamber Music Festival and Zagreb Chamber Music Festival. In 2008, she was featured as a festival artist in Boswil Sommer Festival in Switzerland.

Diana has recently collaborated with musicians including Wolfram Christ, Konstantin Lifschitz, Daishin Kashimoto, Adrian Brendel, Baiba Skride, Mark Padmore, Inga Kalna and Marlis Petersen and has worked with composers including György Ligeti, Franco Donatoni, Peteris Vasks and Arvo Pärt. Her performances have been broadcast on radio and television in Japan, England (BBC, Classic FM), Germany (Bavarian Radio), Romania, Latvia, Switzerland and Austria.

In 2004, Ms. Ketler was appointed Artistic Director of the Chiemgauer Musikfrühling Festival in Germany and in 2008 was awarded the Great Music Prize of the Latvian state. She is currently Professor of Piano at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and has given master classes in Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Romania and Japan.

Alexander Sitkovetsky, Violin

British violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky was born in Moscow in 1983 into a family with an established musical tradition. At the age of eight, Alexander made his debut performance as a soloist with the chamber orchestra in Montpellier, France, and later that year was invited to become a pupil at the Yehudi Menuhin School where he studied with Natalia Boyarsky and Professor Hu Kun. He continued his studies with Hu Kun at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Alexander is currently studying with Professor Pavel Vernikov. Since their first meeting in Moscow in 1990, Lord Menuhin became a great inspiration for Alexander and supported him through his school years. Together they performed the Bach Double Violin Concerto in France and Belgium as well as Bartók’s Duos at St. James’s Palace in London. In 1996, Alexander played Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in Budapest with Lord Menuhin conducting.

Alexander has performed in many international music festivals throughout Europe, including the Radio France Festival (Montpellier), Music Festival in Oldenburg, Verbier Music Festival and Academy (Switzerland), Tuscan Sun Festival (in Cortona, Italy), Utrecht Music Festival, Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festival, and Julia Fischer and Friends Festival (Germany).

Mr. Sitkovetsky has been featured as a soloist at many prestigious venues throughout Europe including London’s Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall; Salla Verdi (Milan), Palais des Congres (Antibes) as well as in Israel, Hawaii and Moscow. The Strad magazine featured Alexander as one of the “Stars of the New Century.” He was featured as a soloist in the “Tchaikovsky Experience” documentary by BBC Television which was broadcast on BBC Two in 2007.

Mr. Sitkovetsky has released two recordings for Angel Records (a part of Capitol/EMI Classics group). His second recording for EMI/Angel, featuring concerto performances of Bach, Mendelssohn, Panufnik and Takemitsu, was released in January 2004 to unanimous critical acclaim. Alexander has recorded the Mendelssohn Double Violin Concerto with Dinorah Varsi and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra for Orfeo, and the Bach Double Violin Concerto with Julia Fischer and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields for Decca.

Alexander is also a committed chamber musician and has collaborated with some of the most important artists of today, including Julia Fischer, Misha Maisky, Bella Davidovich, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Julian Rachlin, Janine Jansen, Sarah Chang, Natalie Clein, Polina Leschenko, Julian Bliss, Maxim Rysanov, Sebastian Klinger, Michael Sanderling and many others.

In 2008 Alexander made his concerto debut at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw with the Netherlands Philharmonic with Yakov Kreizberg after which he received an immediate re-invitation for the 2010-2011 season. He has also debuted with the Bangkok and Monterey Symphony Orchestras and the National Orchestra of Ecuador as well as performing recitals in the UK, Europe and at festivals throughout Europe.

In 2009-2010, Alexander will perform once again with the BBC Concert Orchestra, the National Orchestra in Ecuador, and make his debuts with the l’Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn and the Kammeorchester Heilbronn in Germany.

Razvan Popovici, Viola

Razvan Popovici studied in Salzburg, Paris and Freiburg with Peter Langgartner, Jean Sulem and Wolfram Christ. His other mentors were Tabea Zimmermann, Paul Coletti, Wifried Strehle, Thomas Riebl, the Hagen Quartett and Peteris Vasks.

As a soloist Mr. Popovici has appeared in the Théatre-dés-Champs-Elysées in Paris, the Cologne Philharmonie and the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden. As a chamber musician, he has performed with Konstantin Lifschitz, Rainer Kussmaul, Alexander Lonquich, Thomas Brandis, Daishin Kashimoto, Baiba Skride, Carolin Widmann, Alina Pogostkina, Mihaela Ursuleasa, David Cohen, members of the Amadeus, Casal and Voces Quartets at the Schwetzinger Festspielen, Harrogate Festival, Open Chamber Music in Prussia Cove, Ferrarra Musica, Oxford Chamber Music Festival, St.Gallen Musikfestival, Tartini Festival in Slovenia, Boswil Sommer and Kobe Music Festival, as well as in halls like the Wigmore Hall and the South Bank Centre in London, Atheneum in Bucharest, Essen Philharmonic and Prinzregententheater in Munich.

Mr. Popovici has performed with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (as an extra player) under Claudio Abbado, Lorin Maazel, Günter Wand, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Daniel Harding. He has been guest principal violist with orchestras including the Cologne Chamber Orchestra, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Salzburger Kammerphilharmonie, Essen Philharmonic and the Kobe Chamber Orchestra. He has recorded extensively for radio and television including Bavarian Radio, Südwestdeutscher Rundfunk, MTV, Radio France International, Swiss Radio, Romanian National Television and Romanian Broadcasting Corporation. Razvan is founder and director of the Chiemgauer Musikfrühlingin Traunstein and chamber music series Pèlèrinages in Munich and of the SoNoRo Festival in Bucharest. Razvan has given master classes in the Czech Republic, Japan, Italy and Romania.

Bernhard Kaoki Hedenborg, Cello

Born in 1979 in Salzburg, Bernhard Kaoki started playing cello at the age of six. When Bernhard was 13, Heinrich Schiff invited him to study with him over a period of eight years. In addition, Bernhard has worked with David Geringas, Zara Nelsova and Miklós Perényi. An avid chamber music performer, he has been encouraged by musicians including György Kurtág, Ferenc Rados, György Sebök, the Alban Berg Quartet and Amadeus Quartet.

Mr. Hedenborg is a prizewinner of many national and international competitions including a Silver Medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians and the winner of the European Music Prize of Young Musicians in Oslo. He made his solo debut with Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto with the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg at the age of 12. The repertoire he has performed includes cello concertos by Shostakovich, Haydn, Dvořák and Schumann; Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations; Beethoven’s Triple Concerto; and Brahms’s Double Concerto with the Cologne Radio Orchestra, Prague Symphony, Slovak Philharmonic, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, Costa Rica Symphony, Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony and the Bombay Chamber Orchestra.

Among his chamber music partners are Julian Rachlin, Piotr Andrerszewski, Daishin Kashimoto, Konstantin Lifschitz and Christiane Oelze. As a member of the Thomas Christian Ensemble, he toured extensively in Europe and has recorded the chamber music transcriptions of works by Mahler, Bruckner and Debussy. He made his debut at the Golden Hall in the Wiener Musikverein as soloist with the Radio Bavaria Chamber Orchestra. In the season 2007/08 he was Soloist in Residence at the Theatre Eisenach where he performed eight concerts with the GMD Tetsuro Ban.

Mr. Hedenborg is artistic director of the Kobe Music Festival in Japan and regularly gives master classes in Japan, India and Europe.

Roxana Constantinescu, Mezzo-soprano

Roxana Constantinescu had already enjoyed several competition successes in Belgium, Romania, Munich and Cologne, but it was as the winner of the prestigious ARD Music Competition (Munich) in September 2006 that her international career was launched. Ms. Constantinescu subsequently joined the roster of the Vienna State Opera in the 2007/2008 season making her house debut as Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro conducted by Seiji Ozawa.

In Vienna, where Ms. Constantinescu will remain with the Vienna State Opera through the 2009/2010 season, further roles and experience to date have included Zerlina in Don Giovanni; Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia; Siébel in Faust; Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette; Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana; Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann; Dryade in Ariadne auf Naxos; and Fjodor in Boris Godunov.

After another prize-winning success at Italy’s Tito Schipa Singing Competition, Roxana Constantinescu was invited to make her debut as Angelina in La Cenerentola at the Teatro Politeama di Lecce and went on to appear as Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Austria’s Tirol Festival. It was also as Rosina that Roxana enjoyed great acclaim in Cologne when she took over their opening night on short notice in September 2007.

Other operatic appearances to date have included Ramiro in La finta giardiniera and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Munich’s Prinzregententheater; Conception in L’heure espagnole at Italy’s Teatro Diego Fabbri; Holofernes in Juditha Triumphans at Munich’s House of Art; and Prince Orlovsky in Die Fledermaus at both Bucharest’s State Opera and Essen’s Philharmonie.

As a concert singer, Roxana Constantinescu is in high demand and has recently debuted at Carnegie Hall and Chicago’s Orchestra Hall singing Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Pierre Boulez. Ms. Constantinescu enjoys an ongoing relationship with Helmuth Rilling and has performed with him around the world in music by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Other conductors with whom Roxana Constantinescu has collaborated include Gerd Albrecht, Christoph Poppen, Marco Armiliato, Manfred Honeck, Kirill Petrenko, Yannik Nézet-Séguin, Sebastian Weigle and Franz Welser-Möst.

As an avid recitalist, Roxana Constantinescu has performed in Bucharest, Vienna, Frankfurt, Munich, Wiesbaden and Washington as well as extensively in the Far East. In the current season she will be presented in recital at Vienna’s famous Musikverein as well as in Goethe’s House in Weimar. Even at this early stage in her career, Roxana Constantinescu has already participated in numerous recordings for Haenssler Classic, OEHMS Classics, SWR, Artmode Records, Weltbild and Carus Verlag.

Born in Bucharest, Roxana Constantinescu first studied percussion and piano at the George Enescu Music Academy, continuing with vocal studies at the National University of Music. In 2003 she was awarded an Erasmus Scholarship to attend Vienna’s prestigious University of Music and Fine Arts, and a DAAD scholarship enabled her to attend Postgraduate Studies at the University of Music and Theater in Munich with Edith Wiens.

In addition to ongoing commitments at the Vienna State Opera, the current season brings a concert tour and recording with Helmuth Rilling of Sven-David Sandstroem’s Messiah, as well as concerts at the Musikverein with Sir Neville Marriner and guest appearances at both Wigmore and Carnegie Halls.



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