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Nicholas Mann, President / David Geber, Vice President

The Walter W. Naumburg Foundation and The Town Hall Present
A Gala Concert (LIVE) Celebrating 50 Years of Chamber Music
Concert Took Place on Friday, October 8, 2021, at 7pm, in Town Hall

With performances by the American, Brentano, Emerson, Pacifica, and Telegraph String Quartets; 
Eighth Blackbird; Clarinetist Charles Neidich;
and Pianist Anton Nel – all Naumburg-winning artists

Introduction by Nicholas Mann

The entire concert can be viewed in the YouTube playlist below.
August 16, 2021 (New York, NY) – The Walter W. Naumburg Foundation and the Town Hall present a gala concert (LIVE) celebrating 50 years of chamber music on Friday, October 8, 2021, at 7pm, in Town Hall.  The evening will offer performances by Naumburg-winning ensembles and artists including the American, Brentano, Emerson, Pacifica and Telegraph String Quartets; the Grammy-winning Chicago-based contemporary ensemble Eighth Blackbird; soprano Dawn Upshaw; clarinetist Charles Neidich and pianist Anton Nel.  Nicholas Mann, Naumburg’s president will offer an introduction and John Corigliano, a member of Naumburg’s Board of Directors will offer comments.  

The Town Hall and the Naumburg Foundation share a long-standing relationship going back to 1925 when the first Naumburg artists were presented in debut concerts held in Town Hall.  After retiring from banking in 1923, Walter Naumburg served on numerous NYC boards including as the Chairman of Town Hall's Music Committee.  Incorporated as a Foundation in 1926, Naumburg for the next four decades would present its winners in Town Hall debut concerts.  From the 1920s until the arrival of Lincoln Center in the 1960s, the Town Hall had a reputation amongst performers and audiences as the best venue for a New York debut.  Early winners who made Town Hall debuts as Naumburg artists included pianists William Kapell, Constance Keene and Jorge Bolet; violinists Robert Mann and Joseph Silverstein; vocalist Shirley Verrett; and cellists Daniel Saidenberg and Ronald Leonard.  

Naumburg’s first chamber music competition was for string quartets taking place in 1965 naming the Beaux Arts String Quartet – Charles Libove and Stephen Clapp, violins; John Graham, viola; and Bruce Rogers, cello – its winner.  In 1971, a chamber music award was instituted expanding to all chamber ensembles.  For the past 50 years many of America’s most esteemed chamber ensembles have been winners, including Speculum Musicae, DaCapo Chamber Players, the Empire Brass Quintet and the Aspen Wind Quintet, as well as the Cavani, New World, Lark and Biava string quartets, among others.  The Naumburg Chamber Music Award includes a cash award, a New York debut concert and a commissioned work.  A roster of impressive American composers, have written works for Naumburg artists, including two Pulitzer Prize-winning compositions.  Naumburg commissioned composers include Leon Kirchner, Milton Babbitt, Ezra Laderman, Charles Wuorinen, Aaron Jay Kernis, Augusta Read Thomas, Richard Danielpour and Robert Sirota, to name a few.

Nicholas Mann, Naumburg’s president states, “It was a groundbreaking idea to promote chamber music in the United States in 1971, and the Naumburg Chamber Music Award quickly became the standard bearer of excellence in the chamber music world.  We are extremely proud of our winners and the compositions we have commissioned for the groups.  We are also extremely proud of our ties to Town Hall and proud to be presenting a Naumburg concert at Town Hall.  We look forward to a joyous celebration of these 50 years on October 8th in Town Hall.

Larry Zucker, Town Hall’s Executive Director adds, “During our centennial year, it’s wonderful for us to welcome back one of the earliest presenters of classical concert in our hall’s history.”

Introduction, Nicholas Mann, President, Walter W. Naumburg Foundation
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809):  String Quartet in F minor, Op. 20, No. 5
                 Brentano Quartet (1995)
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953):  String Quartet No, 2 in F Major, Op. 92
                ll.  Allegro
                Pacifica Quartet (1998)
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897):  Quintet in F minor, Op. 34
                ll.  Scherzo:  Andante
              IV.  Finale: Poco sostenuto – Allegro non troppo-Presto, non troppo
                American String Quartet (1974)
                Anton Nel, Pianist (1987)


Remarks, John Corigliano
Holly Harrison:  Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup (2016)
Tom Albert (b. 1948):  Thirteen Ways, VIII: Steady, Rhythmic (1997)
Gustav Santaolalla (b. 1951): Suéltate las Cintas (arr. Duvall, 2004)
                Eighth Blackbird (2000)
                Dawn Upshaw, Soprano (1985)
 W.A. Mozart (1756-1791):  Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K.581
                ll.    Larghetto
                IV.  Allegretto con variazioni
                Telegraph Quartet (2016)
                Charles Neidich, Clarinetist (1985)
Béla Bartók (1881-1945):  Quartet No. 3
                Emerson String Quartet (1978)
About the Artists

American String Quartet
Peter Winograd and Laurie Carney, violins; Daniel Avshalomov, viola; Wolfram Koessel, cello
The American String Quartet, winner of the 1974 Naumburg Chamber Music Award, celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2019, and, in its years of touring, has performed in all fifty states and has appeared in the most important concert halls worldwide.  The ASQ’s presentations of the complete quartets of Beethoven, Schubert, Schoenberg, Bartók and Mozart have won worldwide critical acclaim.  As champions of new music, the American has given numerous premieres, including George Tsontakis’s Quartet No. 7.5, Maverick, Richard Danielpour's Quartet No. 4, and Curt Cacioppo's a distant voice calling and Robert Sirota’s American Pilgrimage. Resident quartet at the Aspen Music Festival since 1974 and at Manhattan School of Music in New York since 1984, the American has also served as resident quartet at the Taos School of Music, the Peabody Conservatory, and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Brentano Quartet
Mark Steinberg and Serena Canin, violins; Misha Amory, cello; Nina Lee, cello

The Brentano Quartet formed in 1992 winning the Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 1995.  Since that time, the Quartet has launched numerous projects that reimagine the standard concert program.  They celebrated their tenth anniversary by commissioning ten composers to write companion pieces for selections from Bach’s Art of the Fugue.  They later revisited Bach’s masterpiece, performing the entire work in a multimedia project at the 92nd Street Y with dancers, narrated excerpts, and an art installation by Gabriel Calatrava.  The Quartet maintains a strong commitment to new music, and upcoming commissions and collaborations include a work by Lei Liang, a viola quintet from James MacMillan, and a large-scale dramatic work, Dido Reimagined by Melinda Wagner and Stephanie Fleischmann to be performed with Dawn Upshaw.  The Brentano Quartet currently serves as Artist-in-Residence at the Yale School of Music.

Eighth Blackbird
Matthew Albert, violin ; Molly Barth, flute ; Matthew Duvall, percussion ; Zachary Good, clarinet;
Lisa Kaplan, piano; Nick Photinos, cello

The Grammy Award-winning contemporary ensemble Eighth Blackbird was named winner of a Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 2000.  Based in Chicago, the ensemble derives its name from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens’ poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.  Since its founding in 1996, Eighth Blackbird has commissioned works by such composers as Steve Reich, David Lang, George Perle, Joseph Schwantner, Jennifer Higdon, and Derek Bermel, among others.  The ensemble received the first BMI/Boudleaux-Bryant Fund Commission and the 2007 American Music Center Trailblazer Award.

Emerson String Quartet
Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, violins; Lawrence Dutton, viola; Paul Watkins, cello

The Emerson String Quartet was named winner of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 1978.  The Quartet has made more than 30 acclaimed recordings, and has been honored with nine Grammy Awards, three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize and Musical America’s “Ensemble of the Year” award.  The Quartet collaborates with some today’s most esteemed composers and has partnered in performance with artists including Renée Fleming, Barbara Hannigan, Evgeny Kissin, Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman to name a few.  Formed in 1976 the Emerson String Quartet was one of the first quartets to have its violinists alternate in the first chair position.  The Quartet’s name is from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.  The Emerson String Quartet serves as Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University.  In 2015, the Quartet received the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, Chamber Music America’s highest honor.

Charles Neidich, Clarinetist
Winner of the 1985 Naumburg Clarinet Award, Charles Neidich was hailed by the New Yorker as “a master of his instrument and beyond a clarinetist.”  He appears regularly as soloist and a collaborator in chamber music programs with leading ensembles such as the Saint Louis Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, IMusici di Montreal, Handel/Haydn Society, Yomiuri Symphony and quartets including the Juilliard, Guarneri, Brentano, and American, among others.  Neidich is renowned as a leading exponent of period instrument performance practice and was one of the first soloists to improvise cadenzas and ornamental classical concertos.  He has performed his restoration of the Mozart Concerto worldwide on both modern and period instruments.  He is also an ardent exponent of new music and has premiered works by composers including Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, William Schuman, Ralph Shapey and Joan Tower. He is a champion of John Corigliano’s Concerto.  Charles Neidich serves on the faculties of Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, Queens College of the City University of New York, and Mannes.

Anton Nel, Pianist
Anton Nel, winner of the 1987 Naumburg International Piano Competition, continues a multifaceted career that has taken him to North and South America, Europe, Asia and South Africa.  A native of Johannesburg he captured first prizes in all the major South African competitions while in his teens, toured his native country and became a well-known radio and television personality.  Since coming to the US in 1983, he has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra and the symphonies of Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit and London, among many others.  He is an acclaimed Beethoven interpreter, having performed the concerto cycle several times as well as performed numerous all-Beethoven solo recitals.  For two decades he has been on the faculty at the University of Texas in Austin where he heads the Division of Keyboard Studies and in 2010, became the first holder of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Piano.

Pacifica Quartet
Simin Ganatra and Austin Hartman, violins; Mark Holloway, violist; Brandon Vamos, cello

The Pacifica Quartet was named winner of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 1998, and for more than twenty-six years has been recognized for its virtuosity, exuberant performance style and often daring repertory choices.  In 2012, they were named Quartet in Residence at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Previously they served as Quartet-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  In 2017, they were appointed to lead the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies at Aspen.  The Pacifica Quartet has received multiple Grammy Awards for Best Chamber Music Performance.    They are the recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award.  An ardent advocate of contemporary music, the Pacifica Quartet commissions and performs many new works including those by Keeril Makan, Julia Wolfe, and Shulamit Ran.

Telegraph Quartet
Joseph Maile and Eric Chin, violins; Pei-Ling Lin, viola; Jeremiah Shaw, cello

Winner of the 2016 Naumburg Chamber Music Award, the Telegraph Quartet is based in the San Francisco Bay area where they serve as Quartet-in-Residence and as members of the chamber music faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory.  A fervent champion of contemporary repertoire, the Telegraph Quartet co-commissioned John Harbison’s String Quartet No. 6 giving its premiere in the fall of 2017.  Other composers they have championed include Richard Festinger, and Robert Sirota.  Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Telegraph launched an online video project named TeleLab, in which the ensemble collectively breaks down the components of a movement from various works for quartet.  TeleLab draws the listener deeper into how those components fit together and evolve over the course of the piece while giving the audience the time to deepen their experience of the music.

Dawn Upshaw, Soprano
Dawn Upshaw was named the winner of the Naumburg Vocal Award in 1985.  Since that time she has received worldwide celebrity as a singer of opera and concert repertoire.  Among her awards include a McArthur Genius Award, the first vocal artist to be given the prize, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.  Her acclaimed performances on the opera stages comprise the great Mozart roles (Susanna, llia, Pamina, Despina and Zerlina) as well as modern works by Stravinsky, Poulenc, Messiaen.  New works created for her include The Great Gatsby by John Harbison, L’Amour de Loin and La Passion de Simone by Kaija Saariaho, John Adams’s El Nño, and Osvaldo Golijov’s chamber opera Ainadamar and song cycle Ayre.  A five-time Grammy Award winner, Dawn Upshaw is featured on more than fifty recordings.  She is the Head of the Vocal Arts Program at the Tanglewood Music Center and was the founding Artistic Director of the Vocal Arts Program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music.  
History of the Organizations

The Walter W. Naumburg Foundation was launched in 1926 by Walter Naumburg, a banker and amateur cellist.  The Naumburg Foundation continues today in fulfilling Mr. Naumburg’s ideals.  The Naumburg Foundation is dedicated to discovering and launching the careers of exceptional young artists.

The Town Hall, a U.S. National Historic Landmark, has played an integral part in the electrifying cultural fabric of New York City for one hundred years.  Town Hall was built by the League for Political Education whose fight for the 19th Amendment led them to build a meeting space to educate people on the important issues of the day.  The Hall was designed by renowned architects McKim, Mead & White to reflect the democratic principles of the League.  Box seats were eliminated and no seats had an obstructed view giving birth to the term, “Not a bad seat in the house.”  In 1921, Richard Strauss gave a series of concerts that cemented the Halls reputation as an ideal space for musical performances.  In the years that followed, artists from Rachmaninoff, Feodor Chaliapin, Marian Anderson, and the Kolisch Quartet to Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Charles Mingus, Billy Holiday and Whitney Houston have all graced the stage at the Town Hall.