Pianofest in the Hamptons Prepares for NY Premiere of Viktor Ullmann Work

Pianist Konstantin Soukhovetski, pianist Michael Brown, and D. Terry Williams, Professor Emeritus of Theatre at Western Michigan University

Pianist Konstantin Soukhovetski, pianist Michael Brown, and D. Terry Williams, Professor Emeritus of Theatre at Western Michigan University

Composer Viktor Ullmann is one of the most notable of the artists who continued to compose while entrapped in Nazi concentration camps. Although many manuscripts were undoubtedly destroyed as their creators met an untimely fate, some were smuggled out or hidden. Ullmann wrote and premiered music while imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camp Terezin (Theresienstadt) before he was ultimately murdered in a gas chamber at Auschwitz. Pianofest in the Hamptons will present the New York premiere of one of Viktor Ullmann's works written in the concentration camp, The Tale of the Love and Death of Cornet Christopher Rilke for Narrator and Piano, on Wednesday, April 17, at the Louis K. Meisel Gallery in SoHo (141 Prince St, New York, NY 10012).

This piece was one of the last for Czech composer Viktor Ullmann and is rarely performed. In the last 20 years, there has been more effort to highlight the music of the talented composers whose potential (so it would seem) was ended in the German concentration camp.

The Tale of the Love and Death of Cornet Christopher Rilke for Narrator and Piano is based on successful poems by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Ullmann extracted twelve vignettes as well as the introduction from Rilke’s poem, which describes a soldier’s last campaign from the vantage point of Cornet Rilke von Langenau. Ullmann’s music serves as a tonal “soundtrack,” similar to Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat, but is more directly atmospheric of the various events of the poem.

Pianofest alumnus and Artist-in-Residence Konstantin Soukhovetski will perform Ullmann, and D. Terry Williams, professor emeritus of theatre at Western Michigan University, will play the role of narrator. In addition to this piece, Pianofest alumnus Michael Brown will perform music by Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland, including the West Side Story Suite (arr. Leo Smit) and El Salón México (arr. Leonard Bernstein).

This event takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m in the Louis K. Meisel Gallery, which exhibits new paintings by many of the original Photorealist artists as well as the younger generation of realist painters and sculptors. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served before the musical program, which starts at 7 p.m.  Seating is limited to 75 people. $75/ticket for general admission. Learn more and purchase tickets online.

Pianofest in the Hamptons

Pianofest is a summer festival that offers concentrated study to a small group of pianists who have auditioned for the festival. Weekly evening concerts featuring these emerging artists occur at different venues in the Hamptons from June to August. Learn more on their website.

About the Artists

Konstantin Soukhovetski has led a formidable career with solo performances in venues such as London's Wigmore Hall, New York’s Weill Recital and Zankel Halls at Carnegie Hall, Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, and Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland. He is an alumnus of The Juilliard School where he has earned multiple degrees under Jerome Lowenthal. Born in Moscow to an artistic family, Konstantin studied at the Moscow Central Special Music School, under the auspices of the Moscow State Conservatory, with Anatoly Ryabov.

D. Terry Williams, professor emeritus of theatre at Western Michigan University, served as chair of the Department of Theatre for 23 years, the longest term of service for a chair in the history of WMU. He has directed more than 100 productions for educational, community and professional theatre and presented dozens of papers and chaired many panels at professional association meetings. He was on the board of directors and the accreditation commission for the National Association of Schools of Theatre, chair of the Theatre Division of the Speech Communication Association and president of Theta Alpha Phi National Honorary Drama Fraternity, and has served on numerous Kalamazoo community arts boards. He is the recipient of the Arts Council’s Community Medal of Arts Award and the Outstanding Teaching Award from the Michigan Council of Governing Boards.

Michael Brown has been described as “one of the most refined of all pianist-composers” (International Piano) and “one of the leading figures in the current renaissance of performer-composers” (The New York Times). Hiscreative approach to programming often interweaves the classics and his own compositions. Winner of the 2018 Emerging Artist Award from Lincoln Center and a 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Brown has recently performed as soloist with the Seattle Symphony, the National Philharmonic, and the Grand Rapids, North Carolina, Maryland and Albany Symphonies; and recitals at Carnegie Hall, Caramoor, the Smithsonian, and the Gilmore Festival. He was selected by András Schiff to perform on an international solo tour making debuts in Berlin, Milan, Florence, Zurich’s Tonhalle, and New York’s 92nd Street Y.  Brown is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, performing frequently at Alice Tully Hall and on tour, and is a former member of CMS Two. He regularly performs recitals with his longtime duo partner, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and has appeared at festivals including Tanglewood, Marlboro, Music@Menlo, Ravinia, Saratoga, Bridgehampton, Bard, Sedona, Moab, and Tippet Rise. Learn more on his website.

— Darby Swab