Cello Plus Returns with Impressive Lineup

Chamber Music Festival Series. Fairchild Theatre, MSU Auditorium, April 4–10.

Cello Plus Chamber Music Festival returns for its 16th year at the MSU College of Music in April with a magnificent lineup of internationally renowned artists. The festival is comprised of four concerts, which feature exceptional talent from within the College of Music as well as accomplished guest artists. The series begins April 4 and continues with performances on April 6, 8, and 10, at Fairchild Theatre in the MSU Auditorium.

Suren Bagratuni, professor of cello at MSU and the artistic director of the festival, believes the Cello Plus series works as an excellent platform to bring a variety of wonderful musicians together. “Each year we host several artists from around the world to perform at MSU. It is a great way to expose the community to extraordinary talent and meaningful collaborations with our students and faculty.”


This Year’s Festival Lineup

Romantic Masterpieces

Mon., April 4, 7:30 p.m. Livia Sohn, violin (Stanford), Victor Uzur, cello (Weber State), join MSU faculty members Yuri Gandelsman, viola, Suren Bagratuni, cello, and students I-Pei Lin, violin, Yuri Ozhegov, viola, for a concert featuring Brahms’ String Quintet in G major and Schubert’s String Quintet in C major. Charlie and Nancy Seebeck are the generous sponsors of this concert.

Slavonic Masterworks 

Wed., April 6, 7:30 p.m. Suren Bagratuni, cello, and I-Pei Lin, violin, share the next concert with guest artists Sergei Babayan, piano (Juilliard School), Ruggero Allifranchini, violin  (St. Paul Chamber Orchestra), Victor Uzur, cello (Weber State), and Maiya Papach, viola (St. Paul Chamber Orchestra). Babayan, an award-winning pianist on faculty at the Juilliard School in New York City, will open the concert with solos by Liszt and Rachmaninoff, then he will be joined by faculty and guest artists for Beethoven and Dvořák. This concert is generously sponsored by the Belle and Julius Harris Visiting Artist Fund established by Lauren Julius Harris.

Chamber Music Favorites:
Stars from Korea

Fri., April 8, 8 p.m. Korean stars Hae Sun Paik, piano (Cleveland Institute), and Kyung-Sun Lee, violin (Seoul National University), will join guests Ruggero Allifranchini, violin (St. Paul Chamber Orchestra), and Maiya Papach, viola (St. Paul Chamber Orchestra), as well as Suren Bagratuni, cello, for the third concert—a tribute to Brahms piano quartets. This concert is generously sponsored by Beth and the late Dr. Milton Muelder.

From Haydn to…Prutsman 

Sun., April 10, 3 p.m. The final concert of the 2016 festival features Canada’s premier chamber ensemble, the St. Lawrence String Quartet (Geoff Nuttall, violin; Lesley Robertson, viola; Owen Dalby, violin; Christopher Costanza, cello), performing string quartets by Haydn. Composer and pianist Stephen Prutsman will also perform an original piano quintet with the group. Stanley and Selma Hollander are the generous sponsors of this concert.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors (age 60 and older), and $5 for students with ID and anyone under 18. Tickets may be purchased online by clicking the event links above, calling the box office at (517) 353-5340, or at the door.

Cello Plus Artists

MSU Artist-Faculty

Suren Bagratuni, cello, won the silver medal at the 1986 International Tchaikovsky Competition while still a student at the Moscow Conservatory. He has toured worldwide, earning enthusiastic praise in both the traditional and contemporary repertoire. He has performed with major orchestras in the former Soviet Union, including the Moscow Philharmonic, and has also appeared with numerous orchestras in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. In addition to his solo activities, he performs as a member of Trio Nobilis, serves as artistic director of the Cello Plus music festival, and conducts master classes worldwide. A former faculty member of the New England Conservatory and the University of Illinois, he is professor of cello, co-chair of the string area, and artist teacher at the MSU College of Music.

Yuri Gandelsman, viola, has been entertaining audiences around the world for the last 35 years as a soloist, chamber musician, and a conductor. Winner of the 1980 National Viola Competition, Gandelsman served as principal violist with the Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and later with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, where he performed as a soloist under the baton of Maestro Zubin Mehta in Israel, the U.S., Luxembourg, Portugal, and Spain. He was a member of the Fine Arts Quartet, (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) for seven years. Gandelsman has performed solo recitals in many parts of the world, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Warsaw, Istanbul, Budapest, and Florence. He has made numerous solo recordings for "Melodya," "Sony Classical," "Lyrinx," "ASV," and "Naxos" labels. He is professor of viola at the MSU College of Music.

Guest Artists

Ruggero Allifranchini, violin, is the Associate Concertmaster of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He was born into a musical household in Milan, Italy, and raised on a diverse musical diet, ranging from Beethoven to John Coltrane. He studied at the New School in Philadelphia with Jascha Brodsky and later at the Curtis Institute of Music with Szymon Goldberg and, for chamber music, Felix Galimir. He was the recipient of the Diploma d’Onore from the Chigiana Academy in Siena, Italy. In 1989, he cofounded the Borromeo String Quartet, with which he played exclusively for 11 years. As a chamber musician of diverse repertoire and styles, Allifranchini is a frequent guest artist of the Chamber Music Societies of Boston and Lincoln Center, as well as chamber music festivals in Seattle, Vancouver, and El Paso. He is currently concertmaster of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra in New York. He is the violinist of the trio Nobilis, with pianist Stephen Prutsman and cellist Suren Bagratuni. Nobilis has performed chamber music and solos with orchestras in Europe, South America, and South Africa as well as in North America. Over the past few seasons he has played as guest concertmaster with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Minnesota Orchestra.

Pianist Sergei Babayan began his career winning several consecutive prizes in major international competitions, including the Cleveland, Hamamatsu, and Scottish international competitions. As soloist, he has performed with the Mariinsky Theater, London, Cleveland, Baltimore, Detroit, BBC Scottish, and New World symphony orchestras, the Warsaw and Rotterdam Philharmonic orchestras, and the Orchestre National de Lille. He has collaborated with conductors Valery Gergiev, Yuri Temirkanov, David Robertson, Neeme Järvi, Tugan Sokhiev, Hans Graf, and Kazimierz Kord, among others. Babayan is a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory and has studied with Georgy Sarajev, Vera Gornostayeva, Lev Naumov, and Mikhail Pletnev. His deep interest and love for the music of Bach led him to study with Helmuth Rilling, and he also studied conducting in order to deepen his orchestral understanding. His concerto repertoire includes 54 concertos, and he has made several recordings for EMC, Connoisseur Society, Pro Piano, and Mariinsky labels. Among his chamber music partners are Martha Argerich, Daniil Trifonov, Ivry Gitlis, and the Borodin Quartet. Babayan will remain as the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Gilliam Artist-in-Residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Violinist Kyung Sun Lee has been a laureate in the Tchaikowsky, Queen Elizabeth, Washington, D'Angelo and Montreal International Competitions, and has performed and taught worldwide. Her career has included concerto performances with orchestras throughout North America, as well as the Munich Radio Orchestra under Yehudi Menuhin, Moscow National Orchestra, and Belgian National Orchestra in Europe, the Seoul Philharmonic, KBS Orchestra, Pu-Chun Philharmonic and Taipei City Symphony in Asia, and the New Zealand Symphony. As a chamber musician she has participated in the Marlboro, Ravinia, and Cape & Islands Festivals in the US, and the Prussia Cove Festival in England. Lee received degrees in music from Seoul National University and the Peabody Conservatory. She also attended the Juilliard School in the professional studies program. Her teachers included Nam Yun Kim, Sylvia Rosenberg, Robert Mann, Dorothy DeLay, and Hyo Kang. She has served on the faculty at the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Houston, and currently teaches at Seoul National University. She has been an artist and teacher at the music festivals of Aspen, Marlboro, and Ravinia as well as numerous chamber music festivals. She is a leader of Hwaum Chamber Orchestra and Seoul Virtuosi. Lee plays a Joseph Guarnerius violin made in 1723.

Pianist HaeSun Paik has performed throughout the world following her triumphs at major international piano competitions, including top prizes at the William Kapell (U.S.A., 1989), the Leeds (England, 1990), the Queen Elisabeth (Belgium, 1991), and the Tchaikovsky (Russia, 1994) International Piano Competitions. She has appeared with many of the world's leading orchestras, including the Boston Symphony, National Symphony, London Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Radio France Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony, Warsaw Philharmonic, Moscow Philharmonic and Russian National Orchestra. In addition to concerto performances, she has appeared frequently as a recitalist at such venues as New York's Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Jordan Hall in Boston. She was the youngest pianist to be appointed as a music professor at Seoul National University. After teaching at the university for 10 years, she decided to leave her position to devote more of her time to numerous performance engagements and broaden her musical horizons. Paik began her musical studies in her native Korea. At 14, she came to the U.S. to study music at Walnut Hill School for Performing Arts in Boston and graduated from New England Conservatory where she was a student of Russell Sherman and Wha Kyung Byun. 

Maiya Papach is principal violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, having been a member of the orchestra since 2008. She has made frequent national and international appearances as a chamber musician, with a versatile profile in her performances of both traditional and contemporary repertoire. She is a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble with whom she has performed frequently at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, New York’s Le Poisson Rouge, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and dozens of experimental venues. She has toured extensively in the former Soviet Union with the Da Capo Chamber Players, across North America with Musicians from Marlboro, and has made appearances at Prussia Cove (UK), the Boston Chamber Music Society, the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival, the Chattanooga Chamber Music Festival, and Chamber Music Quad Cities. She is also a member of Accordo, a Twin Cities-based chamber music group. Papach is a 2013 recipient of the McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians administered by the MacPhail Center for Music, and is looking forward to commissioning a new work for solo viola and ensemble with the award. She is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and the Juilliard School, and her principal teachers include Roland Vamos, Karen Tuttle, Benny Kim, and Hsin-Yun Huang.

Stephen Prutsman, piano, has served as artistic partner with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, where he conducted concertos from the keyboard, performed in chamber ensembles, conducted works of living composers, developed and arranged collaborations for their Engine 408 series of contemporary and world music. More recently, he was the artistic director of the Cartagena International Festival of Music. He was a medal winner at the Tchaikovsky and Queen Elisabeth Piano competitions, and received the Avery Fisher Career Grant. He performs the classical concerto repertoire as soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras and his classical discography includes acclaimed recordings of the Barber and McDowell concerti with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. Born in Los Angeles, Stephen first began playing the piano by ear at age 3, before moving on to more formal music studies. In his teens and early 20s he was the keyboard player for several art rock groups including Cerberus and Vysion. He was also during those years a solo jazz pianist playing in many southern California clubs and lounges and was the music arranger for a nationally syndicated televangelist program. A former student of Aube Tzerko, Leon Fleisher, and Jack Wilson Stephen studied at the University of California at Los Angeles and the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

St. Lawrence String Quartet Established in 1989, the St. Lawrence String Quartet has developed an undisputed reputation as one of the world's great ensembles. The group continues to build its reputation for imaginative and spontaneous music-making through an energetic commitment to the great established quartet literature, as well as the championing of new works. In 2015, the quartet toured Europe with the San Francisco Symphony, and later in the season, SLSQ performed at Carnegie Hall; in Vancouver and Toronto; Madison, WI; Worcester, MA; and Eugene, OR. Two spring 2016 highlights include a residency at the University of Maryland and a special Haydn event at the 92nd Street Y in New York. In recent seasons, SLSQ has paid special attention to Franz Josef Haydn with a series of concerts in which the foursome explores and unpacks the composer’s string quartets from various perspectives and then performs the works in their entirety. Lesley Robertson and Geoff Nuttall are founding members of the group, and hail from Edmonton, Alberta, and London, Ontario, respectively. Christopher Costanza is from Utica, NY, and joined the group in 2003. Owen Dalby, from the San Francisco Bay area, joined in 2015. All four members of the quartet live and teach at Stanford University in California.

Violinist Livia Sohn performs widely on the international stage as concerto soloist, recitalist, and festival guest artist. Her 2015-16 season included performances of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in Veracruz, Mexico, with conductor Jorge Mester, followed by appearances with the Quad City Symphony in IA, and the Folsom Symphony in CA, as well as recitals in South Windsor, CT, and Deerfield, MA. Highlights of this season include a performance of the Beethoven Triple Concerto in Carnegie's Zankel Hall with pianist Stephen Prutsman and cellist Suren Bagratuni. Sohn has been a guest soloist in North America with the symphony orchestras of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Seattle, Milwaukee, Edmonton, Rochester, Austin, Phoenix, New York Chamber Symphony, Boston Pops, and Brooklyn Philharmonic San Antonio, Oregon, Dayton, Winston-Salem, Hartford, Cheyenne, Quad Cities, Green Bay, Boca Raton, Louisville, I Musici de Montreal, and Aspen Festival Orchestra. Internationally, Sohn has performed as soloist with the Budapest Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony, Cologne Philharmonic, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Mexico City Philharmonic and Boca del Rio Philharmonic in Mexico, Hungarian Radio Philharmonic, Orchestra del Teatro Marrucino di Chieti in Italy, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Limburgs Sinfonie Orkest in Holland, The City of London Sinfonia, Asia Philharmonic Orchestra, Korea’s Seoul and Pusan Philharmonics, and the Wuhan Philharmonic in China.

Cellist Viktor Uzur has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician in many countries of Europe, Asia, North America and South America. His performances, interviews and compositions have been broadcast on television and radio stations in the former Yugoslavia, Russia, and United States. Uzur is regularly featured on NPR’s “Performance Today” with the Richter Uzur Duo. He has given concerts and has been an artist in residence at festivals in Austria, Spain, Italy, France, Russia, Canada, Korea, China, Latvia, Brazil, United States, and the former Yugoslavia. His previous engagement as the principal cellist and soloist with ARCO Moscow Chamber Orchestra brought him many CD releases and international tours. Uzur received his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Cello Performance with soloist diploma from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow during which time he worked with teachers A. Fedorchenko, D. Miller and N. Shakovskaya. In the United States he has also worked with Bernard Greenhouse, Lynn Harrell, Carter Brey, Michael Flaxman, Peter Wiley and David Starkweather. He holds a doctoral degree from Michigan State University where he studied with Suren Bagratuni.

MSU Student Artists

I Pei Lin, violin, is a doctoral student at Michigan State University and studies with Dmitri Berlinsky. She received a performer diploma at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in 2013 and studied with Alexander Kerr. She got her Master's Degree and Bachelor's Degree at the National Taiwan Normal University in 2012 and studied with Nanette Chin-Horng Chen. She attended the Festival of Heifetz International Music Institute, and accepted the instruction by David  Linda Cerone, Mihaela Martin, Ani Kavafian, Alexander Kerr and Philip Setzer in 2011. She performed at National Concert Hall in Taipei in 2009.

Yuri Ozhegov, viola, is a doctoral student at Michigan State University and studies with Yuri Gandelsman. He graduated from the Academic Music College, Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory then continued his studies at Moscow State Conservatory with Yuri Tkanov. From 2010-2013 Ozhegov performed with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra as vice-principal violist. He now serves as the principal violist with the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra and in other orchestras in Michigan. He was recently one of 30 participants chosen from around the world to take part in Japan’s Third Tokyo International Viola Competition. He won second prize at the International Festival “Flowers of Saxony” in Prague in 2006.

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