Swiss-born American pianist Gilles Vonsattel is the recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award, and winner of the Naumburg and Geneva competitions. He has appeared with the Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Boston Symphony, and San Francisco Symphony. Recent performances include appearances with the Chicago Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Vancouver Symphony, Florida Orchestra, as well as multiple appearances in New York and on tour with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. A deeply committed chamber musician, he appears regularly at festivals such as Santa Fe Chamber, Music@Menlo, Chamber Music Northwest, Spoleto USA, and has performed with the Emerson, Escher, Miró, Danish, Ebène, Calidore, Pacifica, St. Lawrence, Doric, and Borromeo Quartets. Vonsattel received his bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Columbia University and his master’s degree from The Juilliard School. He serves on the faculties of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Bard College Conservatory.
Eugene Istomin Endowed Piano Chair
Grammy-winning violinist Yvonne Lam served as a co-artistic director and violinist/violist of Eighth Blackbird for eight years. In 2017, she co-founded the Blackbird Creative Lab, an intensive tuition-free training program for performers and composers in Ojai, California, as a way to inspire future generations of artists to champion new work and engage audiences with innovative and dynamic performances. Lam also served three seasons as Assistant Concertmaster of the Washington National Opera Orchestra and as Associate Concertmaster of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. She has appeared as soloist in many world renowned orchestras.
Lam studied violin and piano at the Colburn School of Performing Arts and continued her studies for two years at the Peabody Institute. She earned her Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music, and her Master of Music from the Juilliard School. Winner of the silver medal at the 2005 Michael Hill World Violin Competition, Lam has also garnered top prizes at many other national and international competitions.
She is the Assistant Professor of Violin at Michigan State University.
Henry Meyer Endowed Violin Chair
Violinist Tessa Lark is one of the most captivating artistic voices of our time, consistently praised by critics and audiences for her astounding range of sounds, technical agility, and musical elegance. In 2020 she was nominated for a GRAMMY in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category and received one of Lincoln Center’s prestigious Emerging Artist Awards: the special Hunt Family Award. Other recent honors include a 2018 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and a 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Silver Medalist in the 9th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, and winner of the 2012 Naumburg International Violin Competition.
She solos regularly with many of the major orchestras around the world, from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra to Seattle Symphony, and has appeared in recital in such prestigious venues and series as Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and Carnegie Hall’s Distinctive Debuts series in Weill Hall (2017).
She is also a highly acclaimed fiddler in the tradition of her native Kentucky, delighting audiences with programming that includes Appalachian and bluegrass music and inspiring composers to write for her – most notably SKY, a bluegrass-inspired violin concerto written for Tessa by Michael Torke which earned both a GRAMMY nomination for Tessa and a Pulitzer finalist distinction for Torke.
Lark is a graduate of New England Conservatory and completed her Artist Diploma at The Juilliard School. She plays a ca. 1600 G.P. Maggini violin on loan from an anonymous donor through the Stradivari Society of Chicago.
Sponsored by Martha Pleiss
Acclaimed for his inspirational performances and eloquent musicianship, Paul Watkins enjoys a remarkably varied and distinguished career as concerto soloist, chamber musician and conductor. He is the artistic Director of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and in 2019, he was appointed Professor of Cello at the Yale School of Music.
He regularly appears as concerto soloist with orchestras throughout the world. Recent concerto highlights include a BBC Proms appearance performing the world premiere of his brother Huw Watkins’ Cello Concerto and a tour with the European Union Youth Orchestra under the baton of Bernard Haitink.
A much sought–after chamber musician, Watkins was a member of the Nash Ensemble from 1997 until 2013, when he joined the Emerson String Quartet. With the Quartet he has travelled extensively, performing at major international festivals including Tanglewood, Aspen, Ravinia, Edinburgh, Berlin and Evian, and has collaborated with eminent artists such as Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Evgeny Kissin, Renée Fleming and Barbara Hannigan. He is a regular guest artist at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, where he recently performed the complete Beethoven cello sonatas with Alessio Bax.
He has conducted all the major British orchestras and a wide range of orchestras throughout the world. In recent seasons he made his conducting debuts with the Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Omaha Symphony and at the Lake Tahoe Music Festival. He was the first ever Music Director of the English Chamber Orchestra, and also served as Principal Guest Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra from 2009 to 2012.
Watkins has made over 70 recordings, including 18 solo albums for Chandos. Recent critically acclaimed releases include the Walton, Delius, Elgar and Lutoslawski concertos, as well as discs of British and American sonatas with his brother, Huw Watkins. His first recording as a conductor, of the Britten and Berg violin concertos with Daniel Hope, received a Grammy nomination.
Watkins plays on a cello made by Domenico Montagnana and Matteo Goffriller in Venice, c.1730.
Sponsored by Gail & Ira Mondry