Learn more about Chamber Music for Adult Musicians at Curtis Summerfest.
Marc Johnson, co-program director and string faculty
Marc Johnson was born to a musical family in Lincoln, Neb. Under the tutelage of his first teacher, Carol Work, he won several national competitions and was accepted as a scholarship student at the Eastman School of Music. While there, he studied with Ronald Leonard and John Celentano. He continued his studies at Indiana University, where he was a student of Janos Starker and Josef Gingold.
Mr. Johnson began his professional career while still a student. At age 18 he became the youngest member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and he played in that orchestra for four seasons. He has also been a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He continued to have success in competitions, winning first prize in the prestigious Washington International Competition, among others.
For 35 years Mr. Johnson performed as the cellist of the renowned Vermeer Quartet. The quartet appeared regularly in the world’s musical capitals on five continents and made extensive tours yearly in Europe and North America. Its recordings, which gathered critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, include the complete Beethoven string quartets (Teldec). The quartet can also be heard on the Alden, Cedille, Orfeo, and Naxos labels. It received three Grammy nominations: one for Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ, another for a recording of the Shostakovich and Schnittke piano quintets, and a third for the complete Bartók quartets. The Vermeer appeared regularly at the world’s great music festivals and held residency positions with Northern Illinois University; Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine; and the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England.
Mr. Johnson has continued to pursue an active career since the quartet’s retirement in 2007, appearing in recital and as soloist with orchestras in North America and Europe, and he is a frequent presenter of master classes here and abroad. He and his late wife, the pianist Katherine Johnson, were co-directors of Bay Chamber Concerts, the Next Generation, a series of free chamber music seminars for students from the state of Maine. He has been active in the commissioning of new works for both cello and string quartet and has recorded for CRI Records. He joined the faculty of Boston University in September 2007. In 2008 he was granted an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Dominican University. He was also awarded the Chevalier du Violoncelle by the Eva Janzer Cello Center at Indiana University. His cello is a fine old Italian instrument made c. 1730 by Francesco Stradivarius.
Both of Mr. Johnson’s children are musicians. Nicole is the cellist of the Cassatt Quartet in New York, and Kirsten is the associate principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He lives in Cushing, Maine.
Mimi Stillman, co-program director and woodwind faculty
Mimi Stillman is one of today’s most celebrated flutists. She has been hailed by The Washington Post as “a magically gifted flutist, a breath of fresh air,” and praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer for “full-toned charisma.” Critically acclaimed for her dazzling artistry, technical brilliance, and penetrating interpretation, she has performed as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Bach Collegium Stuttgart among other orchestras, and as recitalist and chamber musician at venues including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, La Jolla Chamber Music Society, Verbier Festival, and Israeli radio Kol Hamusica.
At age 12, Ms. Stillman was the youngest wind player ever admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Julius Baker and Jeffrey Khaner. A Yamaha Performing Artist, she was the youngest wind player ever to win the Young Concert Artists competition. She has won numerous other prizes and awards, including Astral Artists auditions, fellowships from the Earhart and Bradley Foundations, and the 2012 Women in the Arts Award from Women for Greater Philadelphia.
She can be heard on eight CDs, including Odyssey: Eleven American Premieres for Flute and Piano with pianist Charles Abramovic (Innova Recordings), which has received rave reviews and radio plays on four continents.
Ms. Stillman holds an MA in history from the University of Pennsylvania and is a published author on music and history. She has given flute master classes, lecture-recitals, and new music symposia at the Eastman School of Music, University of California, University of Arizona, National Flute Association, Texas Flute Society, and numerous other institutions.
As artistic and executive director of Dolce Suono Ensemble, Ms. Stillman has presided over its establishment as a highly regarded pioneering force in the music world. According to the New York Times, “this adventurous Philadelphia ensemble has commissioned 23 pieces since its founding in 2005 by gifted flutist Mimi Stillman.” Her unique project Syrinx Journey, a tribute to Claude Debussy on his 150th anniversary through her daily recordings of Syrinx on her blog, has garnered an international following. www.mimistillman.org
Amy Yang, piano faculty
Hailed by The New York Concert Review as “a magnificent artist and poet”, pianist Amy Yang is a seasoned soloist and chamber musician. In the 2012–13 season, she played over 70 concerts, including solo appearances with the Mansfield Symphony and Shenyang Conservatory Philharmonic and performances in Merkin Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Detroit Institute of the Arts, and the Kravis Center, among others.
First prizewinner of competitions including the International Corpus Christi Young Artists’ Competition and the Kosciuszko National Chopin Piano Competition, Ms. Yang has collaborated with numerous renowned musicians, soloed with symphonies such as the Houston Symphony, and toured with Musicians from Ravinia and Curtis on Tour. Festival appearances include Marlboro Music Festival, Ravinia Festival, Prussia Cove Masterclasses, Verbier Academy, Chamber Music Northwest, OK Mozart, and Music from Angel Fire. She gave world premieres of music by Ezra Laderman and Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw.
Ms. Yang is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, and the Yale School of Music, where she received the Parisot Prize for an Outstanding Pianist as well as the Alumni Association Prize. She is a chamber music mentor within the Curtis Institute of Music’s young artist initiative.
During Curtis Summerfest 2014 Ms. Yang will serve as program director and piano faculty for the Young Artist Summer Program and piano faculty for Chamber Music for Adult Musicians.
Kensho Watanabe, conductor
Kensho Watanabe from Greenwich, Conn., received a diploma in 2013 from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with distinguished conducting pedagogue Otto-Werner Mueller. He returned to Curtis as a conducting fellow in Fall 2013 as the Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow.
Recent conducting experiences with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra include Jennifer Higdon’s blue cathedral, a duet from Tchaikovsky’s unfinished opera Romeo and Juliet, and Wagner’s Flying Dutchman Overture at Verizon Hall; and Richard Danielpour’s Consecration at Gould Rehearsal Hall. This fall he conducted the Curtis Opera Theatre’s production of The Emperor of Atlantis. Mr. Watanabe previously served as the assistant conductor of the Yale Symphony Orchestra under Toshiyuki Shimada, leading the YSO in concerts at Woolsey Hall and Battell Chapel. He has also served as the music director of Yale’s Berkeley College Orchestra from 2006 to 2009, in addition to being a staff conductor for the Greenwood Music Camp in Cummington, Mass.
Mr. Watanabe started the violin at age two and was accepted into the precollege division of the Juilliard School at age nine. He has since received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Yale College and a master’s degree in violin performance from Yale School of Music. Mr. Watanabe is the winner of numerous competitions and awards, most recently the William Waite Concerto Competition, the Irving S. Gilmore Fellowship, and the Alumni Association Prize from the Yale School of Music.