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Solaris: Solo Piano Works by Women Composers

June 3, 2021 4:00 PM EDT

This unique program curated by pianist Marta Brankovich features women composers from different parts of the world, all with works released on Navona Records and produced by PARMA Recordings. Brankovich, whose works War and Victory are also included in the program, says, “I have never experienced more diverse, eclectic, sensible, and New Age music in the same repertoire. Composers I have chosen have left a very personal mark on me as a classical pianist and composer. Each of these artists have incredible stories, fantastic musical journeys, and have made a huge impact on the 21st century composing process that I am happy to share.”

Program

  • Sarah Wallin Huff
    Crystallization: A Winter Passacaglia
  • Marta Brankovich
    War
  • Mari Tamaki
    Go-Kou-Fu
  • Emma-Ruth Richards
    Fantasia
  • Joanna Estelle
    Four short pieces from Umori [Moods]
  • Mari Kotskyy
    Capriccietto
  • Marta Brankovich
    Victory

About

Sarah Wallin Huff - composer

SARAH WALLIN HUFF is a lecturer and professor of music at California Polytechnic University of Pomona. She received her M.A. in Music Composition at Claremont Graduate University in 2008, and she was the Professor of Composition and Advanced Theory (as well as conductor of the Chamber Ensemble) at The Master’s University in Santa Clarita from 2012 to 2016.

Wallin Huff has been a performer on the violin, viola, and 6-string electric violin since 1990. She plays with diverse ensembles and performs as a soloist for a variety of events and concerts, as well as performing on various recording projects, large and small. Her original compositions have been performed throughout the States and abroad, including the Exeter Phoenix Auditorium in Devon, England and Zipper Hall in Los Angeles. Her work has been called “a stunning collection of gorgeous, orchestral selections…that are, at times, vividly haunting but always entirely engrossing” (Barbra Dillon); “…incredible depth and creative complexity” (Wesley Derbyshire); “Her music is quite complex and unusual and yet…very easy to absorb and appreciate” (Baby Sue); and “Sarah’s music has a classy, understated sound, yet it is baroque and ornate…A true masterpiece, with so many nuances” (ArtistRack). Her compositions range from solo works to chamber ensembles, orchestral concert pieces, and electronic work, as well as work for film and video games. While her sonic output crosses a variety of moods and styles, a common thread linking them all is what she calls “stream-of-consciousness composition,” in which every piece is built upon an enigmatic, underlying framework, from which the work fluidly evolves.

www.sarahwallinhuff.com

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Sustain Vol. 2Lock & Key Vol. 2PRISMA Vol. 3Soul of the MachineSoul of the Machine

Marta Brankovich“As a young pianist born in Serbia but resident in the United States for the past fifteen years, Marta Brankovich was steadfastly building an impressive resume as a concert artist when lightening struck and her career took flight. A dress, a movie, an enthusiastic crowd, suddenly she was The Black Swan of Piano, a soubriquet she revels in and one she hopes will engerize the blandly decorous image of the traditional piano recital. Meanwhile, her debut CD, Black Swan of Piano provides a tantalizing taste of what’s to come.’’

Fanfare Magazine ‘Black Swan of Piano Spreads Her Wings’- by Robert Schulslaper

Marta Brankovich was born in Belgrade, Serbia. She was only 21 years old when she graduated from the University of Belgrade, as the youngest student with the highest GPA in the generation. During her studies she received numerous international and domestic awards, scholarships, and public recognitions including winning the Third place on the famous Rubinstein piano competition in 1997 and receiving a special honorary scholarship from her country for making an outstanding career in the US in 2005. During her studies in Serbia she has accomplished another diploma in music marketing that gave her different perspective how classical pianists need to address a New Age demand of performance level. Marta is currently living in Miami where she has accomplished second Master diploma in piano performance in the class of well known pianist and professor Kemal Gekić in Florida International University. During her master studies she was participant of numerous festivals from EPTA in Europe, IKIF in New York, to New Music Festival and Subtropics Festival in South Florida.

Since 2010, Marta has held over one hundred and fifty solistic recitals in all major halls of Eastern Coast of USA, receiving great reviews and often being called ‘A New Force Of American Pianism’- News Magazine, and ‘Black Swan of Piano’- Miami Herald. She recorded for TV and Radio in Europe and USA. She has been collaborating with many international artists including playing in a piano duet with her own professor Kemal Gekić, receiving great reviews.
In the summer of 2016 she had her second concert tour in Europe in four years with fourteen recitals and lectures at various music concert venues in six different cities from Prague to Belgrade, Skopje, and Istanbul where she recorded for international TV and radio stations including famous Radio Vltava, and Radio Prague channel 3. In the next two years Marta is invited on another european concert tour including countries such as Germany, Italy, and Czech Republic. She is also invited to do the doctoral studies in Europe. In January of 2017 Marta became recording artist for Parma Recordings and Navona Records. Her first CD for Parma is featuring music of Serbian, French and American composers of the 20th and 21st century. Recently Marta became member of FOCM, Friends of Collegium Musicum that is helping young musical talents all over the world get the scholarships for Florida Universities by performing on recitals all over Florida. Marta is the owner and artistic director of the School for Talents called Agitato located in Miami, Florida.

www.blackswanofpiano.com

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Etereo - Trio Casals - Album Cover

Mari Tamaki - composerMARI TAMAKI is a Japanese cellist, composer, performer, and producer whose great improvisational and compositional skills create fascinating music, fluidly crossing through both classical and contemporary genres.

She began her musical studies on the piano at the age of 3 and began cello studies at the age of 11 with Mr. Yuji Tsukitari of Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. She developed her musical talents and instrumental skills without attending formal music schools. She earned her master’s degree in quantum chemistry from Chiba University in Japan. Her journey to become a professional musician was unique and special. When she was a graduate student at the age of 24, she played as an amateur cellist at an orchestra conducted by Mr. Shigenobu Yamaoka, a famous Japanese conductor. He quickly discovered her buried talent and guided her to become a professional cellist and musician. Her unique background and experience as a professional musician allow her to aggressively and actively perform in borderless musical genres.

As a composer, she has successfully created works in a variety of styles, including classical music, progressive rock, free improvisation, avant-garde, and collaboration with the Butoh dance form. In her pieces, she skillfully transitions from tense dissonance to complete harmonization by the end. She employs a lyrical style while emphasizing dissonance.

With the elegant, delicate, and dynamic sounds of her music, she is well-known for scores of string quartet pieces. “The Romantic Cafe” has been used as theme music for television. She also produced “KAGEROHI(heat haze),” the theme music for a recitation drama; “ASAHI DE KOME WO TOGU (washing rice in the rising sun),” the theme music for a stage drama featuring the actor Mr. Keisuke Sagawa; and “Aluett,” the theme music played for a theatrical drama performed by Theatre Murs, along with many other pieces.

She has been pursuing musical adventures as an innovative cellist. She created work reflecting Japanese’ spirituality by collaboration with Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio and Saga Kobayashi at Istituto Di Cultura Tokyo in Butoh. She performed works at Pacifico Yokohama Convention Hall that have been inspired by the sound of the natural environment. At Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall in Arkansas, she performed a work for violin duo entitled “Tennyo no mai (the heavenly maiden’s dance)” using a phrase of Japanese traditional 能 (Noh) as a subject. She always focuses on Japanese archetype in her works.

She released her first album of inspiring music pieces performed not only at concert halls but also at live houses, drama theaters, and art studios. The title of the album was the 1st movement/Ripple played by “R-Aal,” Japan’s first string quartet with a repertoire of original Japanese musical pieces that had never been previously recorded.

www.maritamaki.com

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Playing on the Edge

Emma-Ruth Richards - composerEMMA-RUTH RICHARDS is a composer much in demand in the UK and overseas, acclaimed for her understanding of both instrumental and vocal writing which has earned her a role as a favorite among musicians and singers.

2017 saw the premieres of a new commission from London Sinfonietta, a new chamber orchestra piece for Britten Sinfonia premiered at the Barbican Centre, and Two Worlds CD release of You Cannot Fold a Flood. Also in 2017 was a showcase of her new opera Traffick, written with librettist Nic Chalmers. Traffick is commissioned and developed with the Nordland Teater of Norway, the Royal Opera House in London, and Mahogany Opera. The 2018/9 season has seen American premieres with Camerata Pacifica (Nicholas Daniel, oboe) touring California, and two portrait concerts in Manchester’s Stoller Hall including a world premiere with the Zelkova Quartet. Until a Reservoir No Longer Remains, a new cello duet for Classical Brit Award winner Guy Johnston and the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year Sheku Kanneh-Mason, premieres in London in June 2019. Richards is currently working on a new piano trio for the Albany Trio, commissioned by Stoller Hall for International Women’s Day 2019, and a string quartet commissioned for the Carducci Quartet for Presteigne Festival 2020.

Previously, Richards has been commissioned by London Sinfonietta, Opera North Orchestra, London Philharmonia, Håkan Hardenberger, Colin Currie, Nicholas Daniel, Mark Van de Wiel, Paul Silverthorne, Dudok Kwartet, BBC NOW Chamber Players, and The Absolution Saxophone Quartet amongst others. She is a Royal Northern Gold Medal composer and has featured in festivals including Presteigne (2018), Mahogany Opera’s Various Stages Festival (2017), York Spring Festival (2017), Mons Capital of Culture (2015), Southbank’s Changing Britain Festival (2015), Aldeburgh (2014), Sound Scotland (2013), Internationaal Kamermuziekfestival Den Haag (2012), St. Magnus Festival (2012), Sounds New Canterbury (2010), and Music of Today Southbank (2009).

Richards read music at Cardiff University and then completed her PhD at the Royal Northern College of Music. She has since worked with composers such as Alexander Goehr, Oliver Knussen, Judith Weir, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and Colin Matthews.

www.emmaruthrichards.com

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Joanna EstelleJoanna Estelle (Joanna Estelle (Storoschuk) is a Canadian composer, lyricist, and arranger whose music has won critical acclaim from Parliament Hill, Ottawa to London (UK), Barcelona (Spain), and elsewhere around the world. Estelle studied classical piano and theory with the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto) as a youth, but her parents dissuaded her from pursuing music as a career. Instead, she graduated with degrees in Psychology and English (Brock, ’72), then went on to study Certified Management Accounting. However, her enthusiasm for music never waned. While building a successful professional career in Canada’s federal public service, Estelle channeled her creative energies into composing songs by studying modern piano, advanced theory, and arranging in her free time. She completed an undergraduate degree in music after eight years as a part-time special student at University of Ottawa, graduating summa cum laude on the Dean’s list as winner of the Faculty of Art’s silver medal (2009).

After leaving the public service, Estelle completed the M.A. Music Programme at York University, Toronto (2009-2011), benefitting from the tutelage of choral conductor Dr. Lisette Canton and pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, as well as composer Larysa Kuzmenko (University of Toronto). She became a Melodious Accord Fellow of the renowned American choral composer Alice Parker and completed Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz’s Abwoon Interspiritual Leadership Program. She was a doctoral candidate in composition through the University of Sheffield (UK) from 2016-2018 with her research focused on exploring the relationship between spirituality, science, and creativity, particularly as applied to choral and vocal music. This preliminary work led to a change in direction for Estelle: she is currently completing a Byzantine liturgical song cycle that began as a doctoral assignment but has evolved into a major touring and recording project for the Ewashko Singers (Ottawa).

Among Estelle’s many accomplishments, her work has been arranged and orchestrated for performance and recording by artists and choirs in Canada, the United States, and Europe, as well as broadcast on CBC. Two of her choral compositions were premiered at Canada’s National Arts Centre in Ottawa as part of the UNISONG festival on Canada Day (2004 and 2009). Her music is often included in recitals by the Dominion Carillonneur from the Peace Tower, Parliament Hill, Ottawa, and her choral works are published by Cypress Choral Music (Vancouver). A member of the Canadian League of Composers (CLC) and an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre (CMC), Estelle served on the board of the Association of Canadian Women Composers (ACWC) for many years to help promote their work internationally. She also established the Joanna Estelle Commemorative Scholarship Fund as a bequest to the University of Ottawa to encourage other women to find their musical voices.

In 2018, PARMA Recordings released Estelle’s first international album EMERGENCE on the Navona label. Upon completion of her song cycle project, she will continue writing additional new material for her upcoming second album.

www.joannaestelle.com

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Mari Kotskyy - composer

Mari Kotskyy is a composer, arranger and pianist with the unique ability to forge both the classical and the contemporary in stunning alchemy. Her award winning work has been performed internationally as she builds a significant profile as a truly exciting talent.

Based in New York, Mari Kotskyy was born in Hokkaido, Japan. Beginning music lessons at just four years of age, she began composition classes when she was six, at the Yamaha School of Music in Japan. Prodigiously talented at such a young age, the exposure to this tuition helped a young musician learn to express and emote through the creation of music. It was in 2008 that Kotskyy moved to New York to study composition at the Julliard School Evening Division under the guidance of Conrad Cummings. Finding time to also study film scoring at Paracademia under the tutelage of Milica Paranosic, Kotskyy has absorbed a broad, rich and enlightening strata of music education, developing a range of sophisticated skills and refining a sharp and powerful talent. Currently she studies at Berklee (online), taking a major in Music Composition for Film, TV and Games. This is a creative who simply refuses to stop growing.

Mari Kotskyy composes classical and neo-classical works. As a classical composer her work ‘Snowfall’ was recognized at ‘The Contemporary Piano 2019’ international composition competition in Greece.
Further works have accumulated critical acclaim, including ‘Migrating Birds’, selected by RMN Classical in the United Kingdom. Kotskyy’s work also features the piano album ‘Modern Music for Piano 2’. Exploring works using flute, clarinet and piano, her work ‘Colors’ features on the album ‘AERO’, performed by acclaimed contemporary flutist, Dieter Flury. Her piano trio piece is included on the album ‘Focus 3’, released by RMN Classical in 2020.

Amongst the success of her classical work, Mari Kotskyy has a rich and diverse body of neo-classical works that outline her unique and original talent. Her album ‘Rest’ was released in 2018 and a piano solo piece ‘Song for You’ was released on Blue Spiral Records. Kotskyy’s work somehow embodies the quality of ‘memory’; an ability to transport the listener to another place and time, be that a place of peace, reflection or contemplation. Delicate melodies unfold across beautifully constructed songs, offering the listener gentle escapism and a space for careful thought.

Mari Kotskyy continues to develop as an exciting musician. Working with filmmakers, including the director Trevor Williams on short film ‘The Jane’ (2013), Kotskyy is forging a career as a composer and pianist of significant skill. Explore music that is light of touch, somehow both new and familiar at the same time; seek out the work of Mari Kotskyy, today.​

www.marikotskyy.com

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