Jonathan Carney

Feb. 23: MPCS 'Mostly Mozart'

Master Players Concert Series presents 'Mostly Mozart II' all-star concert

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1:28 p.m., Feb. 11, 2013--The University of Delaware Master Players Concert Series will present “Mostly Mozart II,” an all-star concert celebrating the musical genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23, in Mitchell Hall.

The concert will include Mozart’s masterpiece Sonata in E Minor (K304) for violin and piano, featuring Jonathan Carney, concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and concert pianist Jeffrey Sharkey, director of the world famous Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University.

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The concert will also feature the Piano Quartet in E Flat Major (K493), featuring renowned British cellist and Peabody faculty member Alison Wells, and internationally renowned violinist Xiang Gao, Trustees Distinguished Professor of Music and director of the Master Players series.

The chamber music concert will conclude with one of the most beloved master compositions of all time, Piano Quartet in G Minor Op. 25 (“Gypsy”) by the leading German Romantic composer, Johannes Brahms.

Sharkey, who grew up in Newark, is a respected, world-class concert pianist and composer, and a leading administrator in the professional music field. His father is Stuart Sharkey, a Distinguished Faculty Fellow Emeritus and former UD vice president.

The concert is also a rare opportunity for music lovers to hear violinist Carney, who is not only a world famous concertmaster, but also a world-class violist. He will perform on the viola during the two piano quartets.

“Mostly Mozart” was sold out last season, so those interested in attending are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance. MPCS tickets cost $25 for the general public; $20 for senior adults, UD faculty, staff and alumni; and $10 for students with ID. Tickets are available at the REP box office in the Roselle Center for the Arts, telephone 302 831-2204.

For more information about the Master Players Concert Series, see the website.

Guest artist interviews

There will be no printed program notes during “Most Mozart II,” as MPCS has been reducing the use of paper in public events to protect the planet. To prepare the audience, Gao traveled to Baltimore in January to interview the master musicians in person to get their personal views on the compositions and other interesting elements of the concert. The interviews are now online; click here to hear what the artists think of the compositions and the composers in their own words.

Free, open master classes

Masters classes that are free and open to the public will be conducted by the guest artists and hosted by Gao from 3:30-5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 22, in Loudis Recital Hall of the Amy E. du Pont Music Building, and from 10-11:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 23, in Gore Recital Hall and Puglisi Orchestra Hall of the Roselle Center for the Arts. For more updated concert and master class information, visit the MPCS website.

Upcoming MPCS events

The series will continue with “6ix and Six” on March 15-16, with the MPCS ensemble-in-residence, 6ixwire Project, making UD history with world premiere performances of six six-minute long compositions commissioned with the support of a major grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts. The concert promises to be a memorable experience with many layers of colorful sound highlight the rich cultures of the world.

6ixwire Project will perform showpieces to balance the program, in addition to performing their own composition 6ixth Sense written in January in memory of the children and adults killed at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. The featured composers include UD’s Jennifer M. Barker, Kristin Kuster of the the University of Michigan, Paul Richards of the University of Florida, Changqun Ao of Sichuan Conservatory in China and UD graduate violin student David Brown, whose Celtic fiddle style composition will be performed.

On April 19-20, MPCS will present “iMusic 6 -- Languages of the World,” with Gao and 12 invited guest artists performing. To create the sixth annual iMusic concert – which he says will be the “most organic and powerful iMusic concert ever” -- Gao began collaborating with many accomplished international language educators, artists, and linguists. The concert will promote the inner connection between music from many regions of the world and the languages spoken in those regions. The concert will also promote foreign language education and celebrate the 90th anniversary of the nationally acclaimed UD study abroad program.

The multimedia event will be hosted by Shuhan Wang, former deputy director of the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland and education associate for world languages and international education for the Delaware Department of Education.

About the artists

Jeffrey Sharkey. The pianist, composer and veteran music educator became director of the Peabody Institute in 2006. Before joining Peabody, Sharkey had been dean of the Cleveland Institute of Music since 2001, serving as the chief academic officer of its college division. He was director of music at the Purcell School in London from 1996 to 2001, and head of composition and academic music at Wells Cathedral School, also in England, from 1990 to 1996.

He is a 1986 graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and earned a master of music degree in composition from Yale University in 1988 and a master of philosophy from Cambridge University a year later. 

Sharkey was a founding member of the Pirasti Piano Trio, which recorded with ASV Records in the United Kingdom and toured throughout Europe and the United States. Since returning to America, he has played in Trio Zannetti and performed regularly with members of the Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Institute faculty. In frequent collaboration with his wife, cellist Alison Wells, he remains an active participant in chamber music performances, including recent appearances in France, England, Singapore, and the U.S.

Jonathan Carney. The concertmaster begins his ninth season with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) after 12 seasons in the same position with London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Born in New Jersey, Carney hails from a musical family with all six members having graduated from the Juilliard School. After enjoying critically acclaimed international tours as both concertmaster and soloist with numerous ensembles, Carney was invited by Vladimir Ashkenazy to become concertmaster of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1991. He was also appointed concertmaster of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 1994 and the Basque National Orchestra in 1996. Recent solo performances have included concertos by Bruch, Korngold, Khatchaturian, Sibelius, Nielsen, the Brahms Double Concerto and Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending, which was featured as a live BBC broadcast from London's Barbican Hall.

Alison Wells. Wells is on the cello and chamber music faculties of the Peabody Conservatory. She was a founding member of the British-based Pirasti Trio, whose performances have been described as "absolutely incandescent" by The Strad and "eloquent, unfailingly stylish" by Gramophone. Her performing career has taken her to over 20 countries throughout Europe,North America and Asia.

Wells is a graduate of Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music in England, and holds a doctorate from Yale University. Additional awards from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust and the Martin Musical Scholarship Fund enabled her to participate in further studies at Prussia Cove and the International Menuhin Academy in Gstaad, Switzerland. In 1988 she joined the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, under Simon Rattle, and was honored as an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. The following year she gave her London solo recital debut at the South Bank, sponsored by the Maisie Lewis Young Artists' Trust.

Xiang Gao. Recognized as one of the world's most successful performing artists of his generation from the People's Republic of China, Gao’s musical integrity and virtuoso technique have gained accolades from audiences and reviewers around the world, and he has performed for many world leaders. Most recently, Gao was a featured soloist performing for the Chinese President Hu JinTao and the visiting King Carlos I of Spain.

Highlights of the recent season's engagements include the North American premier of Eduard Tubin's violin concerto No. 1 with the Detroit Symphony; the 2011 world premier of Kristin Kuster’s Two Jades for solo violin and symphony band in Disney Hall, Los Angeles and the National Center for Performing Arts, Beijing, China; and the U.S. premier performance of Eino Tamberg's violin concerto with the Absolute Ensemble in Merkin Hall, New York City. 

Gao is the founding director of the China Music Foundation and UD’s Master Players Concert Series. 

In addition to his named professorship at UD, Gao is also the ZiJiang Professor of Music at the East China Normal University in Shanghai. 

In 2007, the Stradivari Society in Chicago selected Gao to be a recipient of world famous Stradivarius violins for his international solo concerts.

For more on Gao, see the YouTube site.

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