By Kayla Boeke
“When I had nothing else, I had my mother and the piano. And you know what? They were all I needed.” -Alicia Keys
Pianist Sean Botkin began studying the piano with his mother as early as age five. The start of his extensive career began at his first orchestra appearance (four years later) with the Honolulu Symphony.
Botkin went on to continue his study privately with Neal O’Doan at the University of Washington. Under the direction of O’Doan, Botkin performed with the Seattle Symphony, Spokane Symphony, and Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra throughout his early career.
Sean has accumulated a multitude of prizes in an impressive list of international piano competitions that include: William Kapell International Piano Competition, Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, Busoni International Piano Competition, Cleveland International Piano Competition, World Piano Competition in Cincinnati, Dong-A International Music Competition of Korea, International Music Competition of Japan and the Washington D.C. International Competition.
As a graduate of Stanford University, the Juilliard School, and Indiana University at South Bend, Sean has studied with renowned artists such as; Adolph Baller, Martin Canin, and Alexander Toradze. Botkin is currently an Associate Professor of Piano at the University of Northern Iowa.
Sean has also had many opportunities to travel through his acclaimed performances. The range is substantial, and includes; The United States, Europe, Central and South America, Asia, and Russia.
Botkin’s concerto and recital performances include; Kazan and St. Petersburg, Russia; Tbilisi and Kutaisi, Georgia; Salzburg Festival, Ravenna Festival, Stresa Festival, Ruhr Klavier Festival, Gilmore Festival, London, Cagliari, Rome, Florence, Bologna, Palermo, Lisbon, Tokyo, Seoul, Bogotá and San Josá (Costa Rica).
Sean made his initial debut in New York at Alice Tully Hall in 1993, by performing Bartók’s Concerto No. 2 with the Juilliard Symphony, conducted by Carl St. Clair. In 2009, he made a CD recording of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No. 1 in D minor and performed a series of concerts in Europe sponsored by Alexander Rachmaninoff and the Rachmaninoff Foundation.
In 2012, Sean was also sponsored by the Rachmaninoff Foundation, when he performed Rachmaninoff’s 4th Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. In 2013, Sean continued this with the Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and guest conductor, Alexander Sladkovsky. In May 2015, Sean performed in Tbilisi, Georgia as part of the Easter to Ascension Festival.
Equally active in chamber music, reactions to Sean’s performances typically are expressed with phrases such as “multidimensional talents”, “superb musicianship”, and “beautiful and rare musical experience”.
Sean Botkin will be performing alongside percussionist Matt Andreini on March 21 for a virtual performance hosted by the Waverly Chamber Music Series.
The Artaria String Quartet first established in Boston Massachusetts and currently resides in Minnesota. The quarter was formed by Ray Shows, Nancy Oliveros, Annalee Wolf, and Patricia Ryan. The group currently has a residence at Sundin Music Hall on the campus of Hamline University and previously held a residence at Viterbo University and Boston College.
Artaria Quartet has been described as an exceptional ensemble with impressive confidence in its interpretations as well as Minnesota’s foremost teaching and performing string quartet. Recently the ensemble has celebrated 30 years of chamber music performances. With that comes numerous opportunities to travel and awards earned. The group has traveled to Europe, most notably France, Canada, and all over the United States. Their playing has awarded them with the National Endowment for the Arts award as well as the Minnesota State Arts Board for excellence in performance and educational outreach.
Artaria won the Minnesota State Arts Board for excellence through their music school called the Artaria Chamber Music School or ACMS for short. The school is a premier weekly string chamber music program based in Saint Paul that features the Artaria String Quartet and renowned guest artists. Every April, the school competes in the Saint Paul String Quartet Competition, which showcases the nation’s top high school-age string quartets. Artaria believes in the power of music and the importance of music education so it has dedicated the school to provide students with a musical mentor that allows them to share, create community, make friends, and make something happen all through the power of music.
Violinist, Ray Shows is passionate about 20th-century music and has recorded music of today’s leading composers, including Gunther Schuller, Augusta Read Thomas, Marjorie Merryman, and Thomas Oboe Lee. In 2010, Ray was named MNSOTA Studio Teacher of the year. His students are concerto soloists, scholarship recipients at renowned American music schools, are prizewinners at national competitions, and have appeared on National Public Radio From the Top. Shows also received the coveted Director’s Award and graduated with distinction from Boston University and Florida State University in Violin Performance.
Nancy Oliveros is also a violin player. Nancy was a fellowship student at Aspen, Kneisel Hall, and the Florida Festival and was a graduate teaching assistant at The Florida State University and Boston University studying violin and chamber music. Nancy is a founding member of the ASQ and a 2004 McKnight Fellow.
Annalee Wolf is the viola player for ASQ and she has received her undergraduate degree at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Wolf has earned a Premier Prix in viola performance from the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, and subsequently studied chamber music and the humanities at eh European Mozart Academy. Her talents have allowed her to play in places in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. as both a guest solo artist and as part of an ensemble.
Patricia Ryan is the cello player for ASQ. Patricia has completed her second Masters of Music at Rice University Shepherd School of music on a full-tuition scholarship. Patricia has participated and received the top prize in the Plowman, Coleman, and Fischoff Chamber Music Competitions and has [performed internationally in Portugal and China as part of the Viana de Castello International Music Festival and the San Francisco-Shanghai International Chamber Music Festival.
As a group, ASQ has stated that Artaria is a conversation among equals, each voice is heard and respected and the remarkable music we are privileged to study and perform guides us through the greatest thoughts and emotions humanity can express.
“Our greatest joy as curators of the great medium of string playing has been to see students in our coaching programs grow into the awareness that they are part of something greater than themselves.”
“Our next challenge is presenting the cycle of string quartets of Beethoven. We feel honored to have this opportunity and are delighted to share our love of chamber music with the people of Minnesota and beyond.”
The Artaria String Quartet will perform on March 15 at 2 p.m. in the Narthex of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School in Waverly, IA.
In the third century, a Greek engineer named Ctesibius of Alexandria created what we now call the organ. The instrument was originally called the hydraulis as the instrument made noise through water pressure flowing through a set of pipes allowing the instrument to produce different notes based on the size of the pipe and how much pressure was put through the pipe. The hydraulis would mainly be played in arenas of the Roman Empire to get the crowd excited, similarly how the organ is used today at ballparks to play Take Me Out To The Ball Game.
Today the organ still uses different sized pipes to create sound, but makers have since replaced the pressurized water system with pressurized air. The organ is composed of two or more manuals (keyboards) played by the hands and a pedalboard which is played by the feet. Each set of keyboard controls a new group of stops. Stops are groups of pipes that can replicate different sounds that can be played on the organ.
The average number of stops that an organ can have is 32 stops, meaning there are 32 different sized pipes inside the organ. Many large organs will have 64 stops, and the largest organ in the world has 78 stops. Stops are used to reference different pipes inside of the organ because each pipe only plays one note. In order to have 88 different notes represented as well as four different types of sounds, many organs will have an average of 785 pipes inside of them, with the largest organ in the world, located in Atlantic City, New Jersey, has 33,114 pipes.
There are four different groups in the organ called the organ families. These families are in charge of making different sounds on the organ based on what stops are pulled before playing. The first family is called the principals.
The principals are the main stops of the organ and sound like the gloomy almost scary sound of the organ that gets featured most in Dracula movies.
The second family is the flutes. This family is what it sounds like, when the flute stops are pulled, the organ an imitate various instruments of the flute family such as the recorder, orchestral flute, and piccolo.
Third in the family are the strings. The string stop can make the organ sound like string instruments such as violin, viola, cello, or double bass.
Finally in the organ family are the reeds. The reeds are a special family are unlike their organ siblings, the pipes are made differently in order to get the sounds for the reed stops. All of the pipes in the reed family have a brass plate called the tongue which lines the small opening of the pipe in order to have a different vibration of air travel through the pipe. Reeds can then be broken down into two different groups, solo reeds, and chorus reeds. However, all reed stops imitate various kinds of wind instruments like oboe, clarinets, french horn, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, and tuba.
Typically only one stop would be played at a time during the duration of a piece, but their can be multiple stop changes throughout a piece. There are some rare occasions where multiple stops are played at once, but most composers avoid this as to not make the piece sound crunchy or filled with too much noise at once.
Many people argue that the organ is the instrument of all instruments because it can replicate four different families of instruments, and it can also be compared to the voice. In order to sing, the larynx has three operating systems, the actuator (respiratory mechanism), the vibrator (phonatory mechanism), and the resonator. All three of these components can be found within the organ. The actuator or the respiration comes from the air pressure that is constantly circulating throughout the instrument in order to have sound come from each of the pipes. The vibration or phonation comes from the pipes itself, as each pipe is a different size and can be lined, sealed or created from different materials such as wood or metal that creates different vibrations of sound. Finally, the resonation comes from the stops and the manuals as the organ player is the one that is in charge of creating the dynamic level of each pipe when a note is played. The pipes can also fit in the category of resonation as each pipe comes in different sizes that will enhance the tone quality when played.
Overall, the organ is a very large and complicated instrument, not only to build but to play as well. One must have fine-tuned coordination to play the organ as they have to use their feet, and hands, to play while simultaneously changing stops and turning pages of music. The number of people that know how to play the organ has slowly been on the decline, but many schools are trying to reverse that by offering students organ lessons for free.
No matter how invested one gets into learning how the organ works, or even how to play it, I think one thing can remain true. No wedding, church service, or baseball game would ever be the same if we didn’t have the organ.
Heng-Jin Park, the new Artistic Director of Halcyon Music Festival, has been heralded as a “pianist of unusual artistry and musical imagination,” by the Washington Post. Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe also wrote of Ms. Park, “A centered musician with uncommon control over the sonorous possibilities of her instrument; she plays boldly with a full spectrum of colors.”
Ms. Park is renowned for her versatility as a soloist, chamber musician, pedagogue, and music director.
Ms. Park started playing the piano at age five and made her solo debut with the Boston Pops in Symphony Hall at age 15 performing the Schumann Piano Concerto. She has had numerous engagements with the Boston Pops, and has also made concerto appearances with the Boston Classical Orchestra, Boston Philharmonic, New England Philharmonic, L’Orchestre Symphonique Française, and many others. She has given solo recitals in Boston’s Jordan Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Library of Congress, Ambassador Hall in California, and the Gardner Museum in Boston, as well as concerts in Canada, France, Switzerland and Korea. Ms. Park has also been featured in the Boston Celebrity Series.
Heng-Jin Park is a passionate chamber member and founding member and current pianist of the Boston Trio. With the Boston Trio, Ms. Park has performed internationally in some of the most respected concert series and venues, including Carnegie Hall, Jordan Hall, Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, Merkin Concert Hall in New York, Sanders Theater, UCLA, Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, Sanibel Festival in Florida, Detroit Pro Musica, Chamber Music Society of Williamsburg, Rockefeller University, and Kolarac Hall in Belgrade, Serbia, Rockport Chamber Music Festival, and Univ of Winnipeg, Canada.The trio has been in residence at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School.
Outside of her work with Boston Trio, Ms. Park has been a guest artist with First Monday Concert Series in Jordan Hall, Maui Classical Music Festival, Andover Chamber Music Series, the Boston Chamber Music Society, Boston Musica Viva, Music at Eden’s Edge, Market Square Concerts in Pennsylvania, the University of Kansas, Penn State, Park University in Missouri, ArtMusic Concerts in Dallas, and the Walden Chamber Players. She has collaborated with such artists as the Borromeo String Quartet, the Fry Street Quartet, Abel Pereira, Wendy Warner, Martin Chalifour, David Hardy, members of the Ying Quartet, Peter Stumpf, Ronald Thomas, and Andres Diaz. Ms. Park has made numerous appearances on WGBH and other NPR stations around the country, and she has recorded for Albany and Centaur Records.
In addition to her performing activities, Ms. Park enjoys an international reputation as a pedagogue of both piano and chamber music. As an Artist-in-Residence at Harvard University, she has received the university’s Certificate of Distinction in Teaching award numerous times. She is also on the piano faculty at MIT and the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, has taught chamber music at Tanglewood Music Center and the Walnut Hill School, and gives frequent master classes worldwide.
Ms. Park held the position of artistic director of Killington Music Festival in Vermont from 2011 to 2013.
Born in Korea and raised in the Boston area, Ms. Park studied with Leonard Shure and Russell Sherman at the New England Conservatory. While receiving her bachelor and master's degrees at NEC, she won several awards and prizes including the Tourjée Grant for graduate study and the Frank H. Beebe Grant for study abroad. She also worked with Marie-Françoise Bucquet at Conservatoire Nationale Superieur de la Musique de Paris. She currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Jonah Ellsworth is acclaimed as one of the greatest cellists of his generation. Ellsworth has won critical acclaim for his solo performances with the Boston Symphony, Akron Symphony, Boston Philharmonic, Jacksonville Symphony, and New Bedford Symphony, among others. Ellsworth has been referred to as “a kind of unrepentant Tannhäuser” and “a player to watch,” by The Boston Globe and Clevelandclassical.com. The Boston Musical Intelligencer wrote that he is “fearless, [with a] complete range of expressive richness” and “definitely a player to watch.” These praises were earned after performances of the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto with the Boston Philharmonic, the Dvořák Cello Concerto with the Akron Symphony, and his performance of Strauss’s Don Quixote with the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (BPYO).
Ellsworth was featured as a soloist with the New Bedford Symphony on their regular subscription series in 2012, performed as a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Symphony Hall in 2011, and with Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra under the baton of the late Gunther Schuller. He was invited to participate at Marlboro Music Festival for 2014, 2015, and will return next summer. He is a member of the cello section of the Boston Philharmonic.
When Ellsworth recently performed Strauss’s Don Quixote with conductor Benjamin Zander and the BPYO in Prague, former Boston Globe critic Richard Dyer wrote “Ellsworth’s grasp of what the notes mean, of the stories they tell, of the feeling behind and within the notes, is firm, and very deep. His playing of some of the quieter episodes, the yearning that Don Q feels for the idealized Dulcinea, was profoundly moving, and there was a high amount of energy as he tilted against windmills and scattered sheep. And he plays the death sigh of Don Quixote as tenderly and movingly as I have ever heard it – it is with a profound content that this Don Quixote he leaves this life, and not with a sigh of regret.” On this same tour, Ellsworth performed the Dvořák Concerto in Basel, Switzerland. The following is Dyer’s comparison of this performance to that of Natalia Gutman (a legendary Russian cellist who was also soloist with BPYO on this tour): “Ellsworth’s performance was the more mature, serene and centered, and he played with technical mastery, imagination, passion and deep feeling and he was fearless, despite the fact that moments before the concert his cello was knocked over and the bridge was cracked.”
His performance of the Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with YPO in Slovakia prompted the critic from The Boston Musical Intelligencer to write, “… Any praise of Jonah’s technical abilities is likely to be an understatement. He is completely assured and intensely musical; each of the variations had a distinctive character and tone color… This is a young man on the verge of an international career.”
Ellsworth was finalist of the 2011 Stulberg International String Competition in Michigan and received top prize from the Harvard Musical Association in 2012. He appeared on the PBS TV show of the “From the Top” taped live in Carnegie Hall in New York City which has been broadcast on PBS stations nationwide.
Ellsworth has studied with Lawrence Lesser at New England Conservatory and Peter Wiley at Curtis Institute of Music. Other teachers include Andrew Mark and Natasha Brofsky. He has attended Meadowmount Music School where he studied with Hans Jansen, Greenwood Music Camp, Orford Arts Center in Canada.