cello & piano
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, Paul 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.
Paul plays on a cello made by Domenico Montagnana and Matteo Goffriller in Venice, c.1730.
Tai Murray, violin
Described as “superb” by The New York Times, violinist Tai Murray has established herself a musical voice of a generation.“Technically flawless… vivacious and scintillating… It is without doubt that Murray’s style of playing is more mature than that of many seasoned players… “ (Muso Magazine)
Appreciated for her elegance and effortless ability, Murray creates a special bond with listeners through her personal phrasing and subtle sweetness. Her programming reveals musical intelligence. Her sound, sophisticated bowing and choice of vibrato, remind us of her musical background and influences, principally, Yuval Yaron (a student of Gingold & Heifetz) and Franco Gulli. Winner of an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2004, Tai Murray was named a BBC New Generation Artist (2008 through 2010). As a chamber musician, she was a member of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society II (2004-2006).
She has performed as guest soloist on the main stages world-wide, performing with leading ensembles such as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Symphony Orchestra, and all of the BBC Symphony Orchestras. She is also a dedicated advocate of contemporary works (written for the violin). Among others, she performed the world premiere of Malcolm Hayes’ violin concerto at the BBC PROMS, in the Royal Albert Hall.
As a recitalist Tai Murray has visited many of the world’s capitals having appeared in Berlin, Chicago, Hamburg, London, Madrid, New York’s Carnegie Hall, Paris and Washington D.C., among many others.
Tai Murray’s critically acclaimed debut recording for harmonia mundi of Ysaye’s six sonatas for solo violin was released in February 2012. Her second recording with works by American Composers of the 20th Century was released by the Berlin-based label eaSonus and her third disc with the Bernstein Serenade on the French label mirare.
Tai Murray plays a violin by Tomaso Balestrieri fecit Mantua ca. 1765, on generous loan from a private collection.
Yura Lee, violin/viola
Violinist/violist Yura Lee is one of the most versatile and compelling artists of today. She is one of the very few in the world that has mastery of both violin and viola, and she actively performs both instruments equally. Her career spans through various musical mediums: both as a soloist and as a chamber musician, captivating audiences with music from baroque to modern, and enjoying a career that spans more than two decades that takes her all over the world.
Yura Lee was the only first prize winner awarded across four categories at the 2013 ARD Competition in Germany. She has won top prizes for both violin and viola in numerous other competitions, including first prize and audience prize at the 2006 Leopold Mozart Competition (Germany), first prize at the 2010 UNISA International Competition (South Africa), first prize at the 2013 Yuri Bashmet International Competition (Russia), and top prizes in Indianapolis (USA), Hannover (Germany), Kreisler (Austria), and Paganini (Italy) Competitions.
At age 12, Yura Lee became the youngest artist ever to receive the Debut Artist of the Year prize at the “Performance Today” awards given by National Public Radio. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant given by Lincoln Center in New York City. Yura Lee’s CD with Reinhard Goebel and the Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie, titled ‘Mozart in Paris’ (Oehms Classics) received the prestigious Diapason d’Or Award in France.
Yura Lee was nominated and represented by Carnegie Hall for its ECHO (European Concert Hall Organization) series. For this series, she gave recitals at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall and at nine celebrated concert halls in Europe: Wigmore Hall in London, Symphony Hall in Birmingham, Musikverein in Vienna, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Stockholm Konserthus, Athens Concert Hall, and Cologne Philharmonie.
As a soloist, Yura Lee has appeared with many major orchestras, including New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Monte Carlo Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic, to name a few. She has performed with conductors Christophe Eschenbach, Lorin Maazel, Leonard Slatkin, Myung-Whun Chung, Mikhail Pletnev, among many others.
As a chamber musician, Yura Lee regularly takes part in the Marlboro Festival, Salzburg Festival, Verbier Festival, La Jolla SummerFest, Seattle Chamber Music Festival, ChamberFest Cleveland, Caramoor Festival, Kronberg Festival, Aspen Music Festival, among many others. She has collaborated with many artists including Gidon Kremer, Andras Schiff, Leonidas Kavakos, Mitsuko Uchida, Miklós Perényi, Yuri Bashmet, Menahem Pressler, and Frans Helmerson. Yura Lee is currently a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (New York City), and Boston Chamber Music Society.
Yura Lee studied at the Juilliard School (New York City), New England Conservatory (Boston), Salzburg Mozarteum (Austria), and Kronberg Academy (Germany). Her main teachers were Namyun Kim, Dorothy DeLay, Hyo Kang, Miriam Fried, Paul Biss, Thomas Riebl, Ana Chumachenko, and Nobuko Imai. She teaches at the Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California.
For violin, Yura Lee plays a fine Giovanni Grancino violin kindly loaned to her through the Beares International Violin Society by her generous sponsors. For viola, she plays an instrument made in 2002 by Douglas Cox, who resides in Vermont.
Yura Lee divides her time between Los Angeles (California) and Portland (Oregon).
Clive Greensmith, cello
From 1999 until its final season in 2013, Clive Greensmith was a member of the world-renowned Tokyo String Quartet, giving over one hundred performances each year in the most prestigious international venues, including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, London’s South Bank, Paris Chatelet, Berlin Philharmonie, Vienna Musikverein, and Suntory Hall in Tokyo. He has collaborated with international artists such as Andras Schiff, Pinchas Zukerman, Leon Fleisher, Lynn Harrell, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Alicia de Larrocha, and Emanuel Ax.
Mr. Greensmith has given guest performances at prominent festivals worldwide. In North America, he has performed at the Aspen Music Festival, Marlboro Music Festival, Music@Menlo, La Jolla SummerFest, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Cleveland Chamber Fest, and the Ravinia Festival. He is a regular guest of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and will undertake a national tour with Paul Huang, Wu Han, and Matthew Lipman in 2020. Internationally he has appeared at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, Pacific Music Festival in Japan and the Hong Kong Arts Festival. As a soloist, Clive Greensmith has performed with the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, and the RAI Orchestra of Rome among others.
During a career spanning over twenty-five years, Mr. Greensmith has built up a catalog of landmark recordings, most notably The Complete Beethoven String Quartets for Harmonia Mundi with the Tokyo String Quartet, Mozart’s ‘Prussian’ Quartets with the Tokyo String Quartet, Brahms Cello Sonatas with Boris Berman for Biddulph Recordings, and Clarinet Trios of Beethoven and Brahms with Jon Nakamatsu and Jon Manasse for Harmonia Mundi. In June 2018 he performed the newly reconstructed Pál Hermann cello concerto (1925) with the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor, Theodor Kuchar. Toccata Classics released a live recording of his world premiere performance of the Concerto with Theodore Kuchar and the Lviv International Symphony Orchestra in the spring of 2019.
Deeply committed to the mentoring and development of young musicians, Clive has enjoyed a long and distinguished teaching career. In addition to his fifteen-year residency with the Tokyo String Quartet at Yale University, Mr. Greensmith has served as a faculty member at the Yehudi Menuhin School and Royal Northern College of Music in England, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. In 2013, following the final concerts of the Tokyo String Quartet, Mr. Greensmith joined the faculty at the Colburn School where he is currently a professor of cello and coaches chamber music for the Conservatory of Music and the Music Academy. Students of Mr. Greensmith have gone on to secure major positions in orchestras throughout the world and have won a number of prestigious awards.
In July 2019, he succeeded Günther Pichler as director of string chamber music at the Accademia Chigiana International Festival and Summer Academy in Siena, Italy. Also in 2019, Greensmith became the Artistic Director of the Nevada Chamber Music Festival.
Mr. Greensmith is a founding member of the Montrose Trio with pianist Jon Kimura Parker, and violinist Martin Beaver.
Clive Greensmith proudly uses Pirastro strings.
Nicholas Phan, tenor
Described by theBoston Globe as “one of the world’s most remarkable singers,” American tenor Nicholas Phan is increasingly recognized as an artist of distinction. Praised for his keen intelligence, captivating stage presence and natural musicianship, he performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies. Also an avid recitalist, in 2010 he co-founded the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC) to promote art song and vocal chamber music, where he serves as artistic director.
A celebrated recording artist, Phan’s most recent album, Clairières, a recording of songs by Lili and Nadia Boulanger, was nominated for the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. His album, Gods and Monsters, was nominated for the same award in 2017. He is the first singer of Asian descent to be nominated in the history of the category, which has been awarded by the Recording Academy since 1959. His other previous solo albums Illuminations, A Painted Tale, Still Fall the Rain and Winter Words, made many “best of” lists, including those of the New York Times, New Yorker, Chicago Tribune, WQXR, and Boston Globe. Phan’s growing discography also includes a Grammy-nominated recording of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony, Berlioz’ Roméo et Juliettewith Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, Scarlatti’s La gloria di primavera and Handel’s Joseph and his Brethren with Philharmonia Baroque, an album of Bach’s secular cantatas with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan, Bach’s St. John Passion (in which he sings both the Evangelist and the tenor arias) with Apollo’s Fire, and the world premiere recordings of two orchestral song cycles: The Old Burying Ground by Evan Chambers and Elliott Carter’s A Sunbeam’s Architecture.
Phan has appeared with many of the leading orchestras in the North America and Europe, including the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Philharmonia Baroque, Boston Baroque, Les Violons du Roy, BBC Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, Strasbourg Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra of London, and the Lucerne Symphony. He has toured extensively throughout the major concert halls of Europe and has appeared with the Oregon Bach, Ravinia, Marlboro, Edinburgh, Rheingau, Saint-Denis, and Tanglewood festivals, as well as the BBC Proms. Among the conductors he has worked with are Marin Alsop, Harry Bicket, Herbert Blomstedt, Pierre Boulez, Karina Canellakis, James Conlon, Alan Curtis, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Charles Dutoit, James Gaffigan, Alan Gilbert, Jane Glover, Matthew Halls, Manfred Honeck, Bernard Labadie, Louis Langrée, Cristian Măcelaru, Nicholas McGegan, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, John Nelson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Helmuth Rilling, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Masaaki Suzuki, Michael Tilson Thomas, Bramwell Tovey and Franz Welser-Möst.
An avid proponent of vocal chamber music, he has collaborated with many chamber musicians, including pianists Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, Jeremy Denk, Graham Johnson, Lisa Kaplan, Roger Vignoles, Orion Weiss, Inon Barnatan, Myra Huang and Alessio Bax; violinist James Ehnes; cellist Paul Watkins; guitarist Eliot Fisk; harpist Sivan Magen; the Brooklyn Rider, Jasper, and Spektral string quartets; and horn players Jennifer Montone, Radovan Vlatkovic, and Gail Williams. In both recital and chamber concerts, he has been presented by Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, Boston’s Celebrity Series, and the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. In addition to his work as artistic director of CAIC, he also has served as guest curator for projects with the Laguna Beach Music Festival, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Merola Opera program, WQXR, and San Francisco Performances, where he served as the vocal artist-in-residence from 2014-2018.
Phan’s many opera credits include appearances with the Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Chicago Opera Theater, Seattle Opera, Portland Opera, Glyndebourne Opera, Maggio Musicale in Florence, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, and Frankfurt Opera. His growing repertoire includes the title roles in Bernstein’s Candide, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Handel’s Acis and Galatea, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Fenton in Falstaff, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and Lurcanio in Ariodante.
A graduate of the University of Michigan, Phan is the 2012 recipient of the Paul C Boylan Distinguished Alumni Award and the 2018 Christopher Kendall Award. He also studied at the Manhattan School of Music and the Aspen Music Festival and School, and is an alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio. He was the recipient of a 2006 Sullivan Foundation Award and 2004 Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation.
Rolston String Quartet
With their debut recording, “Souvenirs” recently named BBC Music Magazine ‘recording of the year’, Canada’s Rolston String Quartet continues to receive acclamation and recognition for their musical excellence. As the 2018 recipient and first international ensemble chosen for the prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award from Chamber Music America, their accolades and awards precede them. In 2016, a monumental year, they won First Prize at the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition, Grand Prize at the 31st Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition, and Astral’s National Auditions.
Recent highlights include debut performances at Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, The Freer Gallery, and Chamber Music Houston, two major Canadian tours under the Prairie Debut and Debut Atlantic touring networks, and three European tours with dates in Leipzig, Berlin, Lucerne, Heidelberg, Barcelona, and Graz among others. Their 2019-20 season includes concerts at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music, Texas Performing Arts, Chamber Music Northwest, and Calgary Pro Musica; the chamber music societies of Detroit, Fort Worth, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Vancouver; and the Louvre Museum. As Süddeutsche Zeitung states, “they showed such delicacy, slender elasticity, impeccable intonation, and such eminent sense of tonal balance…This is a new bright star on the truly not empty string quartet sky of our day.”
Notable collaborations include performances with renowned artists Janina Fialkowska, Gary Hoffman, Nobuko Imai, Miguel da Silva, and David Shifrin, as well as the St. Lawrence, and Dover Quartets. The quartet are associated artists at the Queen Elizabeth Music Chapel, and completed a two-year term as the Yale School of Music’s fellowship quartet-in-residence in spring 2019. Previously, they were the graduate quartet-in-residence at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. Keeping in the teaching tradition, they have taught at the Yale School of Music, University of Toronto, and the Bowdoin International Music Festival among others. Primary mentors include the Brentano Quartet, James Dunham, Norman Fischer, and Kenneth Goldsmith, and the quartet has received additional guidance from the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Miguel da Silva, and Alastair Tait.
The Rolston String Quartet was formed in the summer of 2013 at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s Chamber Music Residency. They take their name from Canadian violinist Thomas Rolston, founder and long-time director of the Music and Sound Programs at the Banff Centre. The original members are all graduates of The Glenn Gould School (GGS), and it was at the GGS that they founded their passion for chamber music and, under the guidance of Barry Shiffman, focused their artistic growth and ensemble playing. In addition, Ms. Lee, was an alumna of The Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program at the GGS.
Luri Lee plays a Carlo Tononi violin, generously on loan from Shauna Rolston Shaw. The Rolston String Quartet performs on the Eugène Ysaÿe quartet of instruments. The set was made by Samuel Zygmuntowicz, and is on generous loan from the El Pasito Association. The Rolston String Quartet is endorsed by Jargar Strings of Denmark.