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Internationally acclaimed as a violist as well as violinist, Ida Kavafian is an artist-member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and former violinist of the Beaux Arts Trio. She performs as a soloist; in recital with her sister, Ani; as a guest with distinguished ensembles; and as artistic director of Music from Angel Fire in New Mexico. She is founder of the Bravo! Colorado festival and cofounder of the chamber ensembles Tashi and Opus One.
Ms. Kavafian has premiered numerous works, including concertos by Toru Takemitsu and Michael Daugherty. She has toured and recorded with jazz greats Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis, and fiddler/composer Mark O’Connor and has had a solo feature on CBS Sunday Morning.
Recent recordings include Fire and Blood by Michael Daugherty with the Detroit Symphony and O’Connor’s String Quartets, recorded with the composer.
Born in Istanbul of Armenian parentage, Ms. Kavafian is a graduate of the Juilliard School, where she studied with Oscar Shumsky. She made her debut under Young Concert Artists with the pianist Peter Serkin, and also received the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant.
She resides with her husband, violist Steven Tenenbom, in Philadelphia and Connecticut, where they breed and train prizewinning Hungarian vizsla show dogs.
Ms. Kavafian teaches at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, Julliard, and joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1998.
A violist of international reputation, Roberto Díaz is president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music, following in the footsteps of renowned soloist/directors such as Josef Hofmann, Efrem Zimbalist, and Rudolf Serkin. As a teacher of viola at Curtis and former principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Mr. Díaz has already had a significant impact on American musical life and continues to do so in his dual roles as performer and educator.
As a soloist, Mr. Díaz collaborates with leading conductors of our time on stages throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia. He has also worked directly with important 20th- and 21st-century composers, including Krzysztof Penderecki, whose viola concerto he has performed numerous times with the composer on the podium and whose double concerto he will premiere in the United States during the 13-14 season; and Edison Denisov, who invited Mr. Díaz to Moscow to work on and perform his viola concerto. Ricardo Lorenz and Roberto Sierra have written concerti for Mr. Díaz, and he will premiere a concerto by Jennifer Higdon in 2015.
As a frequent recitalist, Mr. Díaz enjoys collaborating with young pianists, bringing a fresh approach to the repertoire and providing invaluable opportunities to artists at the beginning of their careers. In addition to performing with major string quartets and pianists in chamber music series and festivals worldwide, Mr. Díaz has toured Europe, Asia, and the Americas a member of the Díaz Trio with violinist Andrés Cárdenes and cellist Andrés Díaz. The Díaz Trio has recorded for the Artek and Dorian labels.
Mr. Díaz’s recordings on the Naxos label with pianist Robert Koenig include the complete works for viola and piano by Henri Vieuxtemps and a Grammy-nominated disc of viola transcriptions by William Primrose. Also on Naxos are Brahms sonatas with Jeremy Denk and Jonathan Leshnoff’s Double Concerto with violinist Charles Wetherbee and the Iris Chamber Orchestra led by Michael Stern. On the New World Records label is a live recording of Mr. Díaz’s performance of Jacob Druckman’s Viola Concerto with Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Upcoming releases include the Walton Viola Concerto with the New Haven Symphony and William Boughton (Nimbus) and the Viola Concerto by Peter Lieberson with the Odense Symphony Orchestra and Scott Yoo (Bridge Records).
Since founding Curtis On Tour six seasons ago, Mr. Díaz has taken the hugely successful program to North and South America, Europe, and Asia, performing chamber music side-by-side with Curtis students and other faculty and alumni of the school. In addition to Curtis On Tour, his tenure as president of Curtis has seen the construction of a significant new building which doubled the size of the school’s campus, the introduction of a classical guitar department, the launch of Curtis Summerfest which is open to the public, and the debut of an online stage called Curtis Performs. In the fall of 2013 Curtis will become the first classical music conservatory to offer free online classes through Coursera. Also under Mr. Díaz’s leadership, the school has developed lasting collaborations with other music and arts institutions in Philadelphia and throughout the world and has established the Community Artists Program (CAP) to develop the entrepreneurial and advocacy skills of young musicians.
Mr. Díaz received an honorary doctorate from Bowdoin College and was awarded an honorary membership by the national board of the American Viola Society. In the fall of 2013 Mr. Díaz will become a member of the prestigious American Philosophical Society founded by Benjamin Franklin. As a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra, he was selected by Music Director Christoph Eschenbach to receive the C. Hartman Kuhn Award, given annually to “the member of the Philadelphia Orchestra who has shown ability and enterprise of such character as to enhance the standards and the reputation of the Philadelphia Orchestra.” Mr. Díaz received a bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Burton Fine, and a diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, where his teacher was his predecessor at the Philadelphia Orchestra, Joseph de Pasquale. Mr. Díaz also has a degree in industrial design.
In addition to his decade-long tenure as principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he performed the entire standard viola concerto repertoire with the orchestra and gave a number of Philadelphia Orchestra premieres, Mr. Díaz was also principal viola of the National Symphony under Mstislav Rostropovich, a member of the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa, and a member of the Minnesota Orchestra under Sir Neville Marriner. Mr. Díaz plays the ex-Primrose Amati viola.
Peter Wiley, a 1974 graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, has played at leading festivals including the Marlboro Music Festival, for which he also tours and records. As a recitalist he has appeared at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. A member of the Beaux Arts Trio from 1987 to 1998, Mr. Wiley succeeded his teacher, David Soyer, as cellist of the Guarneri String Quartet from 2001 to 2009. He is also a member of the piano quartet Opus One, with Curtis faculty members Ida Kavafian and Steven Tenenbom and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott.
Mr. Wiley entered Curtis at age thirteen. At twenty he was named principal cello of the Cincinnati Symphony, after one year with the Pittsburgh Symphony. He made his concerto debut at Carnegie Hall in 1986 with the New York String Orchestra conducted by Alexander Schneider.
Mr. Wiley teaches at the University of Maryland and Bard College Conservatory of Music, and joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1996.
Harold Robinson joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as principal double bass in September 1995. He previously served as principal bass with the National Symphony Orchestra, assistant principal bass of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, and principal bass of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra (then known as Albuquerque Symphony).
A prizewinner at the 1982 Isle of Man Solo Competition, Mr. Robinson has performed concertos with the Houston Symphony and Houston Pops, the New York Philharmonic, the American Chamber Orchestra, and the Greenville (S.C.) Orchestra.
A native of Houston, Texas, Mr. Robinson studied at Northwestern University and the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. He teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music and has given recitals and master classes throughout the United States, Korea, Japan, and Europe.
Sharon Wei has appeared as viola soloist with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Stratford Civic Orchestra, Orchestra of Southern Utah, Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra, and Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra. She has been guest principal violist of the Cincinnati Symphony and the Canadian Opera Company and has worked with conductors such as James Levine, Kent Nagano, Paavo Jarvi, Zubin Mehta and Yuri Termirkanov. She is guest principal violist of Ensemble Matheus in Paris under Jean Christophe Spinosi and is the co-founder of Ensemble Made in Canada.
Ms. Wei has given recitals throughout North America and Europe. She has performed at the Ravinia, Banff, Sarasota, Prussia Cove, Toronto Summer Music, Tuckamore, Agassiz, Summer Solstice, and Verbier festivals, as well as Festival of the Sound and Ottawa’s Chamberfest. She twice toured France with violinist Joseph Silverstein and pianist Claude Frank. She has also performed chamber music with James Levine, Lynn Harrell, Gary Hoffman, Lawrence Lesser, Peter Frankl, Lara St John, Jonathan Crow, Mark Fewer, Joel Quarrington, James Campbell, James Sommerville, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
Ms. Wei studied at Western University with Lorand Fenyves and Ralph Aldrich; at the Curtis Institute of Music with Roberto Diaz and Karen Tuttle; and at Yale University with Jesse Levine. Her honors include Western’s Alumni Award, Yale’s Viola Prize, a CBC Galaxie Prize, and the grand prize at the London Music Foundation Scholarship competition; and she has been featured in Chatelaine Magazine’s 80 women to watch. She has given master classes in China, the U.S., and throughout Canada. She is currently on the faculty at Stanford University in California.
The recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, cellist Sophie Shao has won top prizes at the Rostropovich and Tchaikovsky competitions. The New York Times has applauded her “eloquent, powerful” interpretations of repertoire ranging from Bach to Beethoven to Crumb.
This season, Ms. Shao gives recitals at the Phillips Collection, Middlebury College, Bargemusic, and Tuesday Musical Club (Tex.). She also performs in “What Makes it Great” at Lincoln Center and appears as soloist with the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Pacific Symphony.
Highlights of previous seasons include the premiere of Howard Shore’s concerto Mythic Gardens with the American Symphony Orchestra, the complete Bach suites in one evening at Union College, recitals at Middlebury College and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, a two-week American tour as soloist with the BBC Concert Orchestra, and a recording of the complete Bach suites.
Ms. Shao attended the Curtis Institute of Music, studying with David Soyer, and continued her studies at Yale with Aldo Parisot, receiving a B.A. in Religious Studies and an M.M. from the Yale School of Music. She is on the faculty of Vassar College and the Bard Conservatory and plays on an 1860 Honoré Derazey cello once owned by Pablo Casals.