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PREVIEW: Close Encounters with Music presents Great Quintets — Dvořák and Brahms at the Mahaiwe on June 9

Award-winning Jamaican-American violist Jordan Bak makes his CEWM debut on the 9th.

Great Barrington — Close Encounters with Music concludes its 32nd season at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on June 9 with a pair of piano quintets by Dvořák and Brahms performed by an all-star lineup of world-class musicians sharing the stage with Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani.

The program opens with Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A Major and closes with Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F minor, op. 34.

Named one of ClassicFM’s “30 Under 30” Rising Stars, award-winning Jamaican-American violist Jordan Bak makes his CEWM debut on the 9th. Critics have described Bak as “an exciting new voice in Classical performance” (I Care If You Listen), “a powerhouse musician, with a strong voice and compelling sound” (The Whole Note), and have noted the “haunting lyrical grace” of his playing (Gramophone).

Mr. Bak has performed as a guest with the Verona Quartet and Merz Trio and has collaborated with Jonathan Biss, Lara Downes, Jennifer Frautschi, Ani Kavafian, Soovin Kim, Charles Neidich, Marina Piccinini, Gilles Vonsattel, and many others. He has performed chamber music at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Wigmore Hall, Jordan Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Princeton University Concerts, Perelman Theater at The Kimmel Center, Elgar Concert Hall, and Helsinki Musiikkitalo.

Jordan Bak earned his bachelor’s degree in viola performance from the New England Conservatory and his master’s and artist diploma in viola performance from The Juilliard School. Formerly professor of viola at Bowling Green State University, Jordan now teaches at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Korean-born Hye-Jin Kim won First Prize at the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition at the age of 19 after graduating from the Curtis Institute of Music (which she entered at age 14!) and earned her master’s degree at the New England Conservatory. Kim is associate professor of violin at East Carolina University and a member of the Cooperstown Quartet. Violinist Jaime Laredo called Kim’s playing “… the most pure and beautiful sound I have heard on a violin.”

The first American to win First Prize at the Guardian Dublin International Piano Competition, Max Levinson is in high demand in the Boston area, having appeared as soloist with many major orchestras, including the Boston Pops, and with chamber musicians such as Pinchas Zukerman and Richard Stoltzman. He has worked with the Tokyo, Vermeer, Mendelssohn, and Borromeo quartets and a great many others. Levinson teaches collaborative piano at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where he has given instruction in piano performance, chamber music, and piano literature for over two decades. He is well known to CEWM audiences.

Ara Gregorian is the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival Distinguished Professor in Music at East Carolina University and was recently named chair of string and piano chamber music at New England Conservatory, effective in the fall of 2024. He made his New York recital debut in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and his debut as soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra in Symphony Hall. Festival appearances include the SpringLight (Finland), Storioni (Holland), Summer Solstice (Canada), Casals (Puerto Rico), Intimacy of Creativity (Hong Kong), Voice of Music in the Upper Galilee (Israel), Taos, Bard, Bravo! Vail Valley, Santa Fe, Skaneateles, Music in the Vineyards, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Cactus Pear, Chesapeake, Madeline Island, Kingston, and Manchester.

Cellist and CEWM Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani has performed with such orchestras as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, and Israel Philharmonic. He has performed at Aspen, Chautauqua, Marlboro, and Grand Canyon festivals; Finland Festival; Great Wall (China); Leicester (England); Ottawa; Prades (France); Oslo; and Australia Chamber Music festivals. He has collaborated with such renowned musicians as Leon Fleisher; Aaron Copland; Christoph Eschenbach; Itzhak Perlman; Dawn Upshaw; Shlomo Mintz; Jeremy Denk; Yefim Bronfman; Eliot Fisk; the Tokyo, Vermeer, Muir, Escher, Dover, Avalon, and Manhattan quartets; as well as members of the Cleveland, Juilliard, Borromeo, and Emerson.

Hear pianist Max Levinson, violinists Ara Gregorian and Hye-Jin Kim, violist Jordan Bak, and CEWM Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani perform a pair of piano quintets from Dvořák and Brahms at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on June 9, at 4 p.m. Tickets are available from the Mahaiwe box office.


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