MINIFEST: Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival In Residence





MINIFEST: Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival In Residence

The British Connection

  • $35 Assigned Rows 1-2
  • $25 Assigned Rows 3-5
  • $15 General Admission
  • Paul Watkins, cello/artistic director
  • Trio HonorĂ©
  • Altius Quartet
  • Friction Quartet
  • Alessio Bax, piano

Event Details

The Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival returns to KCH for its MiniFest residency. KCH is pleased to collaborate with this festival of international stature.

This performance is made possible through the generous support of Bennett Optometry and in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Check out all three different MINIFEST programs!


Driftwood on Sand Piers Hellawell
Friction Quartet
Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor, Op. 40 Dmitri Shostakovich
Paul Watkins, cello; Alessio Bax, piano
Three Rags for String Quartet William Bolcom
Altius Quartet
Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 32 Anton Arensky
Trio Honoré

Paul Watkins

Acclaimed for his inspirational performances and eloquent musicianship, Paul Watkins enjoys a distinguished career as concerto soloist, chamber musician and conductor. Born in 1970, he studied with William Pleeth, Melissa Phelps and Johannes Goritzki, and at the age of 20 was appointed Principal Cellist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. During his solo career he has collaborated with world renowned conductors including Paavo Berglund, Leonard Slatkin, Sakari Oramo, Gianandrea Noseda, Sir Mark Elder, Richard Hickox, Andris Nelsons, Sir Andrew Davis, and Sir Charles Mackerras. He performs regularly with all the major British orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia and City of Birmingham Symphony. He has made seven concerto appearances at the BBC Proms, most recently in a performance of the Lutoslawski Cello Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Adès and recorded live by BBC Radio 3. Read more.

He made his concerto debut at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of chief conductor Yakov Kreizberg, and has performed with the Norwegian Radio, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony and Queensland Orchestras, and with Konzerthausorchester Berlin and the RAI National Symphony Orchestra of Turin. He has toured to Italy and Prague with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and to China and the Far East with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Highlights of recent seasons include concerto appearances with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Bournemouth Symphony, and concerts in the Netherlands, Belgium and Japan with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, and his US concerto debut with the Colorado Symphony. He also premiered (and was the dedicatee of) Mark-Anthony Turnage’s new concerto with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic and Edo de Waart, the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and Hannu Lintu, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Vasily Petrenko; and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Andris Nelsons.

A dedicated chamber musician, Watkins was a member of the Nash Ensemble from 1997 to 2013, and joined the Emerson String Quartet in May 2013. He is a regular participant at festivals and chamber music series, including at the Lincoln Center New York, Music@Menlo, the Roros Festival in Norway, and in 2014 was appointed Artistic Director of the Great Lakes Music Festival of Detroit. He regularly performs with the world’s finest musicians, including Menahem Pressler, Jaime Laredo, Lars Vogt, Christian Tetzlaff and Vadim Repin, and has given solo recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, De Doelen in Rotterdam, the South Bank Centre, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and Queens Hall, Edinburgh.

In 2009 Paul Watkins signed an exclusive contract with Chandos Records for a series of recital and concerto discs. Recent releases include Britten’s Cello Symphony, the Delius, Elgar and Lutoslawski cello concertos, and discs of Martinu’s and Mendelssohn’s music for cello and piano, and an ongoing series of Britsh sonatas with his brother Huw Watkins. His past recordings include the Britten solo cello suites and a recital programme of twentieth century British repertoire for Nimbus, Takemitsu’s Orion and Pleiades for BIS Records and the concertos of Richard Rodney Bennett, Tobias Picker and Cyril Scott for Chandos.

He also maintains a busy career as a conductor and in the 2009/10 season became the first ever Music Director of the English Chamber Orchestra, following two successful years as Associate Conductor. He also served as Principal Guest Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra from 2009 to 2012. Since winning the 2002 Leeds Conducting Competition he has conducted all the major British orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony and BBC Symphony Orchestras. Outside the UK he has conducted the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Prague Symphony, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Tampere Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic and the Melbourne Symphony, Queensland and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestras. In 2006 he made his opera debut conducting a critically praised new production of Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine for Opera North. Recent highlights include his debuts with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Royal Northern Sinfonia and a tour of Norway with the English Chamber Orchestra. See less.

Trio Honoré

Chloé Kiffer, violin
Phuc Phan, cello
Hsin-Chiao Liao, piano

Consisting of three young and passionate musicians, violinist Chloé Kiffer, cellist Phuc Phan and pianist Hsin-Chiao Liao; Trio Honoré, a dynamic young New York based trio has established itself among one of the most communicative, passionate and exhilarating ensembles in the area. Since its establishment, the trio has enjoyed a demanding and multi-faceted career that spans a busy concert schedule and frequent community outreach. During the past year, the trio has been selected to participate in an intensive piano trio seminar with cellist Colin Carr; as well as coachings from Gilbert Kalish, Philip Setzer, David Finckel and Paul Watkins. In the coming season 2016-2017, the trio’s engagements include concert tours as well as chamber music masterclasses at local music schools and festivals in North America, France and Southeast Asia.

Altius Quartet

Joshua Ulrich, violin
Andrew Giordano, violin
Andrew Krimm, viola
Zachary Reaves, cello

Hailed as "rich" and "captivating" by the renowned music blog, "I Care If You Listen," the Altius Quartet is quickly garnering an international reputation and enrapturing the hearts of audiences everywhere.

Altius was the silver medalist at the 2014 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in South Bend, IN, and were first prize recipients at both the 2014 Coltman Chamber Music Competition in Austin, TX, and the 2013 Plowman Chamber Music Competition in Columbia, MO. Altius has just competed at the Seventh Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition as one of eight string quartets selected worldwide. Read more.

Formed in 2011 at Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts, Altius holds the position as Fellowship String Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where they are mentored by the Takács Quartet. The quartet has an active performance schedule including engagements at music festivals, series, and universities throughout the United States. Highlights of the 2015-16 season include: performances at Music at Kohl Mansion in San Francisco and California State University in Fullerton, residencies at the Fayetteville Chamber Music Festival, the Western Slope Concert Series, and participation in the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival as Shouse Artists.

During their tenure at Southern Methodist University, Altius Quartet served as Ensemble-in-Residence working closely with Matt Albert, Emanuel Borok, and Andres Diaz. In addition, Altius has worked with and been guided by many of the foremost artists in chamber music including the Emerson String Quartet, Miro Quartet, Shanghai Quartet, Kronos Quartet, Arnold Steinhardt, Håkan Rosengren, and James Dunham.

Altius Quartet is deeply committed to outreach, often performing concerts and teaching master classes in public schools and alternative performing venues including: jazz clubs, bars, and cafes. In July 2013, the quartet commenced an educational residency with the Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony where they perform for and mentor young artists in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In addition, the quartet served as the 2014 fellowship quartet at the Music in the Mountains Conservatory in Durango, CO, where they had the opportunity to coach several young string quartets.

Founding member and violinist Andrew Giordano received his Bachelor of Music degree at Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music, where he studied with Kathleen Winkler, Federico Agostini, and Koichiro Harada. Giordano continued his studies at the Southern Methodist University, Meadows School of the Arts, where he completed a Masters of Music with Emanuel Borok. Violinist Joshua Ulrich joined the quartet in the spring of 2014. Ulrich received his Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Artist Diploma from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and is currently a doctoral candidate from the same institution. During his tenure at the University of Cincinnati, he studied with Won-Bin Yim, Dorothy Delay, and Henry Meyer. Violist Andrew Krimm is a founding member of the quartet. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder where he studied with Erika Eckert and Geraldine Walther and received his Performer Diploma from Southern Methodist University, Meadows School of the Arts where he studied with Ellen Rose. Cellist Zachary Reaves is a founding member and received his Bachelor of Music and Performer Diploma from Southern Methodist University, Meadows School of Arts where he studied with Andres Diaz and Christopher Adkins.

In their spare time, members of the Altius Quartet enjoy watching the NFL and NBA, playing fantasy football, hiking the Colorado Mountains, spending time with their dogs, and are always striving to sharpen their witty, and at times borderline inappropriate sense of humor. See less.

Friction Quartet

Kevin Rogers, violin
Otis Harriel, violin
Taija Warbelow, viola
Doug Machiz, cello

Friction Quartet, whose performances have been called “terribly beautiful” (San Francisco Classical Voice), “stunningly passionate” (Calgary Herald) and “chillingly effective” (San Francisco Examiner), exists to expand the string quartet repertoire and audience for adventurous contemporary music. Joshua Kosman (San Francisco Chronicle) declared that Friction Quartet is “an artist who should be discovered” and described their performance as “high-octane music making…a fine blend of rhythmic ferocity and tonal flair.” John Adams shared Friction’s video of the second movement of his first string quartet on Facebook and Twitter and called it “spectacular.”

Since forming in 2011, Friction has given 63 world premiere performances and commissioned 30 works for string quartet. They opened for Kronos Quartet, in Kronos’s “Under 30″ series. Friction received a Chamber Music America grant to commission a new piano quintet from Andy Akiho to be performed with Jenny Q Chai. They also received a grant from San Francisco Friends of Chamber music to commission a new work from Mark Winges. Friction was selected as one of eleven artists featured in the SF Bay Guardian’s 2014 On the Rise issue. Their recording of David Conte’s second string quartet was just released on Albany Records. Read more.

While Friction has garnered international attention as commissioners and interpreters of new music, they are also devoted to performing masterworks of the string quartet repertoire at the highest level. They were quarter finalists in the 2015 Fischoff Competition and placed second at the 2015 Frances Walton Competition. In October 2015 they will compete in the semi finals of the Concert Artists Guild Competition. They received the 2012 Berkeley Piano Club Award. Friction has participated in the St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar, the Banff Chamber Music Residency, and the Deer Valley Music Festival.

Friction Quartet is an artist in residence at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center and quartet in residence with West Edge Opera in Summer 2015. They are ensemble in residence with the Center for New Music and San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music for the 2015-2016 season.

Friction Quartet loves to collaborate with artists of all disciplines. Their premiere of Garrett-Moulton’s “A Show of Hands,” described by the SF Chronicle as “the greatest dance bargain offered in this town since the San Francisco Ballet performed in Stern Grove last summer,” took place in October 2013. The piece features Dan Becker’s original score for string quartet, commissioned by New Music USA, and six dancers that interact with the string quartet by gesturing, lifting, and lowering the musicians.

Friction Quartet is dedicated to building new audiences for contemporary music. In collaboration with composer Danny Clay, Friction realized a graphic score that Danny created using drawings that a third grade class made after listening to Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge. Danny’s video of the performance synced with the children’s drawings is one of Friction’s most viewed YouTube videos. Friction works with an after-school program called “Little Opera” that guides elementary school students through the process of creating an opera. They workshop graphic scores that the students create and present excerpts of old and new string quartets. The Little Opera students consistently report that Friction plays exactly what the students had in mind. As part of their 2014 winter residency at the Trinity Alps Chamber Music Festival, Friction gave several performances at local schools. Their recompositions of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” were the biggest hits.

Friction Quartet takes risks to enlarge the audience’s understanding of what a string quartet can be, through the use of digital sound processing, percussion, amplification, movement and by combining music with other media such as dance and film. But they never lose sight of the quartet’s essence—the endlessly nuanced interaction of four analog voices, even when those voices are used to channel real and produce faux digital sounds. See less.

Alessio Bax

Pianist Alessio Bax creates “a ravishing listening experience” with his lyrical playing, insightful interpretations, and dazzling facility. “His playing quivers with an almost hypnotic intensity,” says Gramophone magazine, leading to what Dallas Morning News calls “an out-of-body experience.”First Prize winner at the Leeds and Hamamatsu international piano competitions—and a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient—he has appeared as soloist with over 100 orchestras, including the London and Royal Philharmonic orchestras, the Dallas and Houston symphonies, the NHK Symphony in Japan, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic with Yuri Temirkanov, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Sir Simon Rattle. Read more.

After a whirlwind summer playing fourteen festivals on three continents, including his Minnesota Orchestra debut under Andrew Litton and return to Bravo! Vail with the Dallas Symphony led by Jaap van Zweden, Bax opens the Colorado Symphony’s 2015-16 season, and launches a South American recital tour, crowned by three concerts at the famed Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. With violinist Joshua Bell, he embarks on a tour of Asia, collaborates for the first time with the Emerson String Quartet, plays four-hand piano concerts with Lucille Chung in Canada, and returns to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for engagements in New York and on tour. Among his solo recitals, Bax performs in the Cliburn Concerts series in Ft. Worth. September brings the release of his next solo album for Signum Classics, featuring music by Mussorgsky and Scriabin.

Highlights of recent seasons include Beethoven and Rachmaninov in a UK tour with the Royal Philharmonic, Rachmaninov and Mozart with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic under Temirkanov, Barber with the Dallas Symphony under Jaap van Zweden, Mozart with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Hans Graf, Rachmaninov with London’s Southbank Sinfonia led by Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Mozart with the same orchestra under Simon Over, as well as concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall, L.A.’s Disney Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, and New York’s Carnegie Hall. He opened – with a pair of Mozart piano concertos – and closed the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s 2014-15 season. Besides giving solo recitals at the Lincoln Center and in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Minneapolis, Bilbao, and Tokyo, Bax partnered with Joshua Bell for over thirty concerts in Europe and North and South America, and with Lucille Chung in the U.S., Canada, France, and Hong Kong.In 2013, he received the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award and Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, which recognizes young artists of exceptional accomplishment.

Bax’s celebrated discography for Signum Classics includes Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” and “Moonlight” Sonatas (Gramophone “Editor’s Choice”); Bax & Chung, a duo disc with Lucille Chung, presenting Stravinsky’s original four-hand version of the ballet Pétrouchka as well as music by Brahms and Piazzolla; Alessio Bax plays Mozart, comprising Piano Concertos K. 491 and K. 595 with London’s Southbank Sinfonia led by Simon Over; Alessio Bax plays Brahms (Gramophone “Critic’s Choice”); Rachmaninov: Preludes and Melodies (American Record Guide “Critics’ Choice 2011”); and Bach Transcribed; and for Warner Classics, Baroque Reflections (Gramophone “Editor’s Choice”). He performed Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata for maestro Daniel Barenboim in the PBS-TV documentary Barenboim on Beethoven: Masterclass, available as a DVD box set on the EMI label. His performances have been broadcast live on the BBC (UK); CBC (Canada); RAI (Italy); RTVE (Spain); NHK (Japan); WDR, NDR, and Bayerischer Rundfunk (Germany); American Public Media’s “Performance Today”; WQXR (New York); WGBH (Boston); WETA (Washington, DC); and Sirius-XM satellite radio, among many others.

Hailed by International Piano as “a pianist of refreshing depth,” Bax’s extensive concerto repertoire has led to performances with such esteemed conductors as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Marin Alsop, Sergiu Commisiona, Vernon Handley, Pietari Inkinen, Hannu Lintu, Andrew Litton, Jonathan Nott, Vasily Petrenko, Sir Simon Rattle, Alexander Shelley, Yuri Temirkanov, and Jaap van Zweden. His international festival appearances include London’s International Piano Series (Queen Elizabeth Hall); the Verbier Festival in Switzerland; England’s Aldeburgh and Bath festivals; and the Ruhr Klavier-Festival and Beethovenfest Bonn in Germany. He has also appeared multiple times at such U.S. festivals as Bravo! Vail, Bard Music Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and Music@Menlo, and has given recitals in major music halls around the world, including in Rome, Milan, Madrid, Mexico City, Paris, London, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, New York, and Washington, DC. An accomplished chamber musician, Bax has collaborated with Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Sol Gabetta, Steven Isserlis, Nicholas Phan, Paul Watkins, and Jörg Widmann, among others.

Alessio Bax graduated with top honors at the record age of 14 from the conservatory of his hometown in Bari, Italy, where his teacher was Angela Montemurro. He studied in France with Francois-Joël Thiollier and attended the Chigiana Academy in Siena under Joaquín Achúcarro. In 1994 he moved to Dallas to continue his studies with Achúcarro at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, and he is now on the teaching faculty there. A Steinway artist, Bax resides in New York City with his wife, pianist Lucille Chung, and their daughter. See less.