SATURDAY, AUGUST 10, 7:30PM
Brahms String Quintet No 2 in G major
Schumann Piano Quintet in E-flat major
SUNDAY, AUGUST 11, 3:00PM
Brahms String Sextet No 1 in B-flat major
Dvorak Piano Quintet No 2 in A major
The winner of the Second Prize at the 2016 Queen Elisabeth Competition and the 2015 William Petschek Recital Debut Award from The Juilliard School, pianist Henry Kramer is establishing himself as one of the most exciting American musicians of his generation. His performances have been praised by critics as “triumphant” and “thrilling” (The New York Times), and “technically effortless” (La Presse, Montreal). After his Philadelphia recital debut, Peter Dobrin of the Philadelphia Inquirer deemed Henry,
”…a pianist of enormous talent…[he] personalized interpretations to such a degree that works emerged anew. He is a big personality.”
-Peter Dobrin, Philadelphia Inquirer
Henry has been invited to play with orchestras across the globe including the National Belgian Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic, Calgary Philharmonic, Shanghai Philharmonic, Bilkent Symphony Orchestra in Ankara, Turkey, the Portland (Maine) Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Métropolitain du Montreal, and the Yale Philharmonia. He has soloed under the batons of preeminent conductors Marin Alsop, Jan Pascal Tortelier, and Stéphane Dénève. In recent seasons, Mr. Kramer was featured in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the National Orchestra of Belgium and Hans Graf, in Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional in the Dominican Republic, Ravel's Concerto in G with Gerard Schwarz and the Indianapolis Symphony, and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with Symphony in C.
Mr. Kramer has been a guest performer in recitals at Portland Piano International (Oregon), The Cliburn Foundation, and the National Chopin Foundation in Miami and in important venues like Carnegie Hall in NY, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Queen Elizabeth Hall in Antwerp (Belgium) and BOZAR in Brussels. Deeply committed to the chamber music repertoire, he has been featured in performances at Lincoln Center, and has participated in the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival, La Jolla Music Society’s Summerfest, Music@Menlo’s International Program, and the Verbier Festival Academy, where he was awarded the Tabor Prize in piano. He appeared on Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute tour, which included performances at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and New York’s Morgan Library, as well as an unprecedented appearance in Havana, Cuba, as a cultural ambassador. This past summer, Mr. Kramer performed in the Orchestra of St. Luke’s Resonance Festival dedicated to the works of Schubert and also at the Salon Chamber Music Festival in Provence where he shared the stage with prominent members of the Berlin Philharmonic including Emmanuel Pahud and Daishin Kashimoto.
Dr. Kramer holds both a Master’s and a Bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School and an Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music where he received the Charles S. Miller Prize for the most outstanding first-year pianist. In 2018, he earned his Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Yale School of Music. He has been the Iva Dee Hiatt Visiting Artist in piano at Smith College and also served as Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory of Dance and Music. His musical mentors have included Julian Martin, Robert McDonald, and Boris Berman. Henry's first commercial recording dedicated to the Oratorio Transcriptions of Liszt was recently released on the NAXOS label. Since August of 2018, Dr. Kramer holds the L. Rexford Whiddon Distinguished Chair in Piano at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia.
The violin artistry of Desirée Ruhstrat has captivated audiences throughout Europe and the Americas. The Berlin Taggespiegel wrote, "...she played with such an intensive fire and sleepwalking assuredness that she was stormily celebrated by the audience." Ms. Ruhstrat is renown for her versatility as a soloist, Chamber musician, and teacher.
Since her debut at age 12 with Lukas Foss and the Milwaukee Symphony, Ms. Ruhstrat has appeared as a soloist with orchestras throughout the world, including the Berlin Radio Symphony, Radio Suisse Romande, Gottingen Symphony, Philharmonia Da Camera, Orchestra Symphonica Aguascalientes, Colorado Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Concerto Soloists Of Philadelphia, Utah Symphony, Chicago Civic Orchestra, Debut Orchestra of Los Angeles, and National Repertory Orchestra and by special invitation of Sir George Solti in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall.
She has worked with such renowned conductors as Eric Kunzel, Max Rudolph, William Smith, Rico Saccani, Brian Priestman, Mats Liljefors among others. Ms. Ruhstrat has won numerous awards including first prize at the National Young Musicians Debut Competition in Los Angeles, where she was also lauded a special award for a young performer with extraordinary talent. She became the youngest prizewinner at Switzerland's Tibor Varga International Competition and also won the award for best interpretation of the commissioned contemporary composition. She went on to earn top prizes at the Carl Flesch, Julius Stulberg, and the Mozart Festival Violin Competitions.
Ms. Ruhstrat's distinguished career as a chamber musician includes performances throughout the US as a member of the Lincoln Trio, including Carnegie Weil Hall, Lincoln Center, Ravinia Festival, Indianapolis Symphony Beethoven Series, Poisson Rouge and Music In the Loft. She has also appeared as guest artist of the Chamber Music Series of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, Apollo Chamber Ensemble, the Colorado Chambers Players, Pacifica Quartet, the University of Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Northwestern University Midwinter Series with Jorge Federico Osorio and Ani Kavafian, as well as collaborations with Shmuel Ashkenasi, Ilya Kaler and Roberto Diaz. Festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival, Peninsula Music Festival, Laurel Festival of the Arts, the Breckenridge Music Festival and the Green Lake, University Of Wisconsin, Utah Music Festival, and ARIA International Summer Academy, where she has also served as faculty.
A champion of new music Ms. Ruhstrat has worked with some of the worlds leading composers, George Crumb, Jennifer Higdon, Shulamit Ran, Augusta Read Thomas, Chen Yi, Zhou Long and most recently had a work written for her by Laura Elise Schwendinger "Violinists In My Life."
Ms. Ruhstrat is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music. Her teachers have included Aaron Rosand, Joseph Gingold, Harold Wippler and Dorothy Delay. Her discography includes the Stamitz Duo for Violin and Viola for Centaur Records ,the Ravel Duo for Violin and Cello for Albany Records, a 2013 GRAMMY nominated NAXOS release Annelies, based on the Diary of Anne Frank and multiple recordings with the Lincoln Trio on the Cedille Label and a 2016 GRAMMY Nomination for Trio’s From Our Homeland’s.
A passionate teacher, Ms. Ruhstrat's students are prizewinners of national and international competitions and members of professional orchestras worldwide. Ms. Ruhstrat has been on Faculty at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University Bloomington and currently is on faculty and serves as the Strings Chamber Music Coordinator at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music. In 2014 Ms. Ruhstrat was awarded the American String Teachers Association Illinois Outstanding Studio Teacher Award.
GRAMMY Award-winning cellist Sara Sant'Ambrogio first leaped to international attention when she was a winner at the Eighth International Tchaikovsky Violoncello Competition in Moscow, Russia. As a result of her medal, Carnegie Hall invited Ms. Sant'Ambrogio to perform a recital that was filmed by CBS News as part of a profile about her, which was televised nationally. The New York Times described Ms. Sant'Ambrogio's New York debut as "sheer pleasure," saying “There was an irresistible warmth in everything Miss Sant’Ambrogio did.”
Ms. Sant'Ambrogio has appeared as a soloist with such orchestras as Atlanta, the Beijing Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Budapest, Chicago, Dallas, Moscow State Philharmonic, the Prague Chamber Orchestra, the Osaka Century Orchestra (Japan), The Royal Philharmonic, St. Louis, San Francisco and Seattle; she has performed thousands of concerts on six continents at the world’s major music centers and festivals including Aspen, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, the Konzert Huset in Stockholm, Marlboro, Mostly Mozart, Musikverein in Vienna, Ravinia, Orchard and Suntory Halls in Tokyo and Great Mountain Festival in Korea.
Always looking to push the boundaries of classical music, Sara has performed with Sting, Trudie Styler, and Joshua Bell in the production of “Twin Spirits,” the story of the love affair between Robert and Clara Schumann. The Los Angeles Times said, “Joshua Bell and Sara Sant’Ambrogio played with lyrical restraint and lovely tone.” A track from Sara’s solo cd, "Dreaming," was featured as the opening soundtrack of the HBO award-winning documentary, "A Matter of Taste" and another was featured on the soundtrack for the documentary “Jones Beach Boys.” Most recently her recordings were featured in the documentary “Kiss The Water.” Miss Sant'Ambrogio has also collaborated with the New York City Ballet in seven highly successful sold out concerts at Lincoln Center performing The Bach Cello Suites and has performed with Rufus Wainwright in the inauguration of a new concert series at the National Arts Club in New York City.
Ms. Sant'Ambrogio started cello studies with her father John Sant'Ambrogio, principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony, and at the age of 16 was invited on a full scholarship to study with David Soyer at the Curtis Institute of Music where she received her High School Diploma. Three years later, world-renowned cellist, Leonard Rose invited Ms. Sant'Ambrogio to study at The Juilliard School; within weeks of arriving, she won the all-Juilliard Schumann Cello Concerto Competition, resulting in the first of many performances at Lincoln Center.
In addition to the Tchaikovsky Medal, Ms. Sant'Ambrogio has won numerous international competitions, including The Whitaker, The Dealey, Artists International, and Palm Beach awards. Ms. Sant'Ambrogio won a Grammy Award for her performance of Bernstein's "Arias and Barcarolles" on Koch Records. Ms. Sant'Ambrogio has been profiled in Strings, Glamour, Gramophone, Vogue, Strad, Elle, In Fashion, Bon Appetit, Detour, Travel and Leisure, Fanfare and Swing magazines, as well as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, on CBS, ABC, PBS, Fox, USA and CNN networks. Ms. Sant'Ambrogio is the subject of a feature-length documentary, which has had multiple airings nationwide on PBS and international networks. She currently has 4 music videos playing on Classic FM TV in the UK and Europe and dozens of other videos on online networks.
Ms. Sant'Ambrogio is a founding member of the Eroica Trio. The Trio won the prestigious 1991 Naumburg Award, resulting in an acclaimed Lincoln Center debut and has since extensively toured the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, and New Zealand. In 1997 the Trio opened the "Distinctive Debuts" series at Carnegie Hall, and that year represented Carnegie Hall as the official chamber music ensemble in concerts worldwide. While touring the globe, Eroica has released eight celebrated recordings for Angel EMI Classics Records, garnering multiple Grammy nominations.
Recent highlights for Miss Sant'Ambrogio were an US tour as soloist with Maestro Fabio Luisi and The Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the culmination of her Bach Project with the release of Volume II of Bach Solo Cello Suites, which Gramophone Magazine raved, “Technically formidable and intensely communicative, these performances grab you by the ears and refuse to let you go.” About Volume I Gramophone said, “She comes impressively close to the soul of Bach.” Her 2013 release, “The Chopin Collection,” was featured in Ann Midgette’s column in The Washington Post round-up of “Notable Recordings of 2013.”
Miss Sant'Ambrogio performs on a Johannes Gagliano cello, Napoli, Italy, ca.1800.
Violinist Noah Geller is the Concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and was appointed to the position by Music Director Ludovic Morlot in September 2018. Geller comes to Seattle from the Kansas City Symphony, where he was Concertmaster under Michael Stern since 2012. He has appeared frequently as soloist with the Kansas City Symphony and made his solo recording debut on KCS' recent release with Reference Recordings featuring music by Camille Saint-Säens.
Geller began his professional career in the ﬁrst violin section of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2007 while still pursuing his master’s degree. He served as acting assistant concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Geller also has performed as guest concertmaster with the Symphony Orchestras of Pittsburgh, Houston, and Beijing (China National Symphony). In addition to his large scale orchestral activities, Geller appears regularly with the dynamic and spirited conductor-less group, East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO).
An active chamber musician, Geller has performed at the Marlboro, Kingston, Saratoga, Heartland and Skaneateles festivals, and he has appeared on the Lyon and Healy (Chicago), Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Lyric Chamber Music Society (New York) series, among others. He is an original member of Shir Ami, an ensemble dedicated to the music of composers whose lives were adversely affected by the Holocaust. Geller has organized and presented concerts by Shir Ami for the Kansas City community, garnering remarkable support and enthusiasm. This is Geller's second appearance at Pierce Hill.
Geller grew up in the Chicago area, studying privately with Jennifer Cappelli. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School where he studied with Hyo Kang, Donald Weilerstein and Cho-Liang Lin. Geller currently lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife, percussionist Mari Yoshinaga, and their dog, Monkey.
Geller performs on an Andreas Postacchini violin, Marches, Italy, ca.1840.
Violist Ben Geller is in his fourth season as Principal Violist of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. He performs regularly as a soloist in the orchestra and as a chamber musician in the Charlotte Area.
Originally from Rockford, IL, Ben began violin lessons at the age of three in the Suzuki tradition at the Music Academy of Rockford. He continued his musical training at Butler University with Larry Shapiro and formally took up viola with Michael Isaac Strauss as well as a Jazz Minor with Mark Buselli. He went on to pursue his Masters at The Juilliard School where he studied with Toby Appel. Following graduation, Ben was awarded a fellowship to the New World Symphony in Miami, FL where he performed for almost two years.
Ben's first professional engagement took him to New Zealand where he was Associate Principal Violist of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. While in New Zealand, Ben also served as Principal of the Auckland Chamber Orchestra and regularly performed as soloist with both orchestras. He then returned to the United States and joined the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra viola section for two seasons before his appointment in Charlotte.
In addition to his work in the Charlotte Symphony, Ben teaches and performs at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, NC and performs in the Arizona Musicfest Orchestra in Phoenix, AZ. Ben also coaches string programs in Charlotte area schools and has been a guest teacher at the Atlanta Music Project. Ben has also performed in the National Repertory Orchestra, Spoleto Festival USA, Aspen Music Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Brevard Music Center, Interharmony International Music Festival, and the New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall. This is Ben's second appearance at Pierce Hill.
Ben performs on a Theodore Skreko award-winning viola, 2007, and a Matthew Wehling bow, 2008.
Known for his “rich tone and lyrical acumen” (Chicago Tribune), violist Michael Isaac Strauss has performed around the world as a soloist, recitalist, in chamber music, and in symphonic settings. His love for the intimate concert setting has led to performances on concert series, live radio broadcasts, and festival appearances across Europe, North America, and Asia.
A former member of the distinguished Fine Arts Quartet, Strauss made several European and domestic tours with them, as well as a critically acclaimed recording of Mozart’s complete viola quintets on the Lyrinx label. He is a founding member of the new Indianapolis Quartet, in residence at the University of Indianapolis since 2016, where he also serves on the faculty. Strauss has also taught at Youngstown State University’s Dana School of Music since 2016 and is the violist for the Dana Trio, in residence at Youngstown State University.
Strauss’ solo work is featured on several CDs—the debut recording of Jennifer Higdon’s Viola Sonata, David Finko’s Viola Concerto (re-released in 2015), Stamitz’s works for solo viola with orchestra (Centaur), and the Suzuki Viola School CDs, Volumes 8 and 9. He has also recorded chamber works by living composers with the Philadelphia-based Orchestra 2001, the complete string quintets by Mozart with the Fine Arts Quartet, and he recently released Wordless Verses (Naxos)—trio works inspired by poetry for oboe, viola, and piano with the Jackson Trio.
Strauss was principal violist of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for 20 years and has served on the faculty of several prominent schools including Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, and Swarthmore College. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music. This is Strauss' second appearance at Pierce Hill.
Michael performs on a Matteo Albani viola, Bolzano, Italy, ca.1704.
Cellist Wyatt Sutherland has performed with the New Orleans Philharmonic, Baton Rouge Symphony, Shreveport Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Yamagata Symphony Orchestra (Japan), Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and is the former Principal Cellist of the Louisville Chamber Orchestra, Oklahoma City Chamber Orchestra, and Baltimore Chamber Orchestra.
Wyatt became interested in the cello after hearing the legendary cellist and pedagogue, Janos Starker perform the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the Louisville Orchestra. At nine years of age he started cello studies with Guillermo Helguera, at the University of Louisville Suzuki String Academy, and upon graduating high school began cello studies with Starker at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington. Other teachers include Raya Garbousova, Susanna Onwood, Thaddeus Bryce and Yoshio Sato.
Wyatt has a deep passion for chamber music and has worked with such renowned artists as Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Mischa Schneider, Gunther Schuller, Josef Gingold, Menahem Pressler, Louis Krasner, Gilbert Kalish, Burton Fine, Juilliard String Quartet, Tokyo String Quartet, and the Vermeer String Quartet. He was a recipient of the Aspen Fellowship, Tanglewood Fellowship, Leonard Bernstein Scholarship, Gustav Golden Award, Mark Allen Everett Foundation Award, and Phillips Petroleum Foundation Award. Wyatt gave the North American premiere performance of Yehudi Wyner's "De Novo" for Cello and Chamber Ensemble at the Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival. Wyatt can be heard on the Naim Record Label (UK) performing the Mendelssohn Octet for Strings with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
During the week Wyatt is an Agile/Lean/XP Technical Software Craftsman Coach to Fortune 500 companies and amateur chef during the weekends. When Wyatt is not performing chamber music or coaching software teams or working on a construction project he can be found in his commercial kitchen whipping up something yummy for family and friends.
In 2018 Wyatt founded Pierce Hill Performing Arts, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission of providing scholarships for young musicians who want to attend music camps and need financial support to help reach their potential.
Wyatt resides in Viroqua, WI, with his wife, Monika, in a renewable energy-efficient home they built with their four children.
Wyatt performs on a Gennaro Gagliano cello, Napoli, Italy, ca. 1760.