Ilya Poletaev wins Grieg Competition in Florida

Ilya Poletaev, a Yale School of Music graduate who now teaches in the Department of Music, has won first prize in the Grieg Festival Young Artists Competition at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida. The competition, which is open to pianists, vocalists, and violinists, is part of a three-day Grieg Festival highlighting important but lesser-known works of Edvard Grieg.  The grand prize-winner will undertake a concert tour in Norway, including concerts at Oystese Hardanger, Troldhaugen (Grieg’s estate) in Bergen, and at the 2009 Grieg Festival in Oslo.

Poletaev leads a multi-faceted career as a classically-trained pianist as well as a performer on early keyboards. As a solo pianist, he has appeared with the Toronto and Hartford symphony orchestras; as a chamber musician, he has performed alongside distinguished artists such as Robert Mann, Donald Weilerstein, Gary Hoffmann, Boris Berman, Paul Hersh, and Susan Narucki. He has also appeared at such prestigious festivals as Moab, Caramoor, Sarasota, Norfolk, Yellow Barn, Banff, the Orford Arts Center, and Stratford Summer Music Festival. He is a recent Laureate of the 2008 National Stepping Stone Competition in Canada. As a harpsichordist, he has been heard in such venues as Weill Hall in Carnegie Hall and the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. As a continuo player, he has played under such conductors as Andrew Lawrence-King, Graham O’Reilly, and Helmuth Rilling.

Published January 20, 2009
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Shizuo Kuwahara ’01MM wins 2008 Solti Competition

Frankfurt, November 9, 2008 – The Fourth International Conductors’ Competition Sir Georg Solti has a winner: the 32 year old American Shizuo Kuwahara picked up first prize. Eugene Tzigane (26, also from the USA) received second prize, and Andreas Hotz (27) from Germany came in third place. He was the first German candidate to reach the final round of the International Conductors’ Competition Sir Georg Solti. In 2006 Shizuo took second place in the Solti Competition.

First prize is €15,000, second prize €10,000 and the candidate in third place receives €5,000. The first and second prize winners also received bonus prizes: invitations to conduct for the Frankfurt Museum Orchestra, the hr Symphony Orchestra as well as other German and international orchestras. The public finale concert today, Sunday morning, in Frankfurt’s Alter Oper saw three finalists at the conductor’s stand of the hr Symphony Orchestra performing the following works (selected by drawing lots): Gioacchino Rossini’s “William Tell” overture (Andreas Hotz), Carl Maria von Weber’s “Oberon” overture (Shizuo Kuwahara) and Giuseppe Verdi’s “The Force of Destiny” overture (Eugene Tzigane). Then all three candidates each conducted Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” (from No. 4 to the end). After a short break to discuss the winner, the jury chairman Rolf-E. Breuer announced the decision, unanimously agreed by the members of the jury after evaluating the two rehearsal days, Friday and Saturday, and the public finale today, Sunday.

To conclude the morning’s thrilling events there was a performance of Michael Glinka’s “Ruslan and Ludmilla”, conducted by Shizuo Kuwahara, the first prize winner.

The members of the jury for the final round, as chaired by Rolf-E. Breuer, were: Lady Valerie Solti (Patroness of the Competition and widow of the legendary conductor Sir Georg Solti), Ulrich Edelmann (First Concertmaster of the hr Symphony Orchestra), Zdenĕk Mácal (Head Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic), Andreas Mölich-Zebhauser (Director of the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden), Matthias Pintscher (composer and conductor), Sebastian Weigle (General Music Director for the City of Frankfurt am Main, Head Conductor of the Frankfurt Museum Orchestra) and Lothar Zagrosek (Head Conductor of the Konzerthaus Orchestra in Berlin).

Shizuo Kuwahara  •  www.shizuokuwahara.com

The audience in Frankfurt will still remember Shizuo Kuwahara well as the second prize winner of the last Solti Competition. Since then he (32) has been invited to be a guest conductor by numerous orchestras, such as the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie (German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra) as well as the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, which he conducted at the Weilburger Schloss concerts. He received his training at Yale University and the Eastman School of Music, where he graduated with distinction. His first positions were as Associate Conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach, before he was appointed Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the IPPO Philharmonic in Tokyo.

Published January 20, 2009
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alumniVentures to “advance the cause of music”

Yale School of Music supports alumni projects with grants totaling $100,000

In June, 2008, Dean Robert Blocker of the Yale School of Music announced alumniVentures, a bold and innovative program that will provide $100,000 in grants to the School’s alumni. In the first year of what Dean Blocker promised to be an annual program, alumniVentures grants would be given to projects that best followed one simple but transcendent criterion: to advance the cause of music. Three hundred proposals from 329 alumni (there were several joint proposals) were submitted, including commissions, travel to support teaching and scholarship, recital performances, recording projects, and outreach. The number of responses was remarkable, considering that the Yale School of Music, a small graduate professional school, has just over three thousand alumni. On November 10, the grants were announced. MORE

Published January 20, 2009
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