Each year brings a project or chapter in pianist Stewart Goodyear’s life that means so much to him. During this particular season, the phenomenal musician and composer hopes listeners leap out of their seats and dance, just like he felt like doing while recording his latest album with conductor Wayne Marshall and Chineke! Orchestra.
Fifth House Ensemble (5HE) wants everyone to just play. This is the focus on the group’s recent projects, which explore different ways to produce music, as well as how we send that music out into the world and how the audiences experience it.
“We spend so much time perfecting skills, getting things right, and getting ahead that we forget to connect with our own creative impulses on a daily basis,” said Melissa Ngan, executive director and founding member of 5HE. “It's this space that produces innovation, human connection, and a true sense of self.”
Even when he wanted to run away, life brought cellist Dale Henderson back to music.
“One of the many things I heard as a student and didn’t think too much about was ‘you can’t hid with the cello’,” he said. “But then learned through experience was 100% true. No matter who you are on the outside, when you’re playing your inner self will show through. You’re totally exposed.”
Instead of following the typical classical music handbook, conductor Andrew Gourlay decided to write his own. As Music Director of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León (OSCyL) in Spain, Andrew and the OSCyL announced this fall it launched its own recording label. Now, a few months later, the organization released its first recording, Rachmaninov: The Isle of the Dead / Symphony No. 2.
“For the first recording on our new label, we wanted to show what the orchestra can do, and what better way than with major symphonic repertoire?” Andrew said.
The only thing violinist Kristin Lee wants people to remember about her is her honesty in expressing her love for music. Her goal every time she steps on the stage or curates a program is that it comes off genuinely and that she can be as transparent as possible.
Conductor Shiyeon Sung found her passion for classical music at a young age, through starting piano at 4 years old and her mother’s love for the same music. Though she thrived as a pianist and won many youth competitions, she developed a problem with her arm and had to stop playing for a while.
Pianist Karim Said moved to the UK from his native Jordan at age 11 without his family to study music. It is through this independence and the structure of Purcell School that have influenced his music-making.
German pianist Frank Dupree can be described with one word: versatility. He doesn’t think in stereotypes and has experimented with a variety of musical genres and instruments.
“Why isn’t it possible that one person plays a Beethoven Piano Sonata and improvises over a song by Duke Ellington in the same concert? I say it is! It’s all about making music,” said Frank, winner of the 2018 Opus Klassik Award for Piano Concerto Recording of the Year (20th/21st century).
Baritone Holger Falk thinks an authentic artistic expression is always connected to real life. “The work and the transformation I do and have in my ‘real life’ always allow and enforce different artistic possibilities,” he said.
For Russian-American violinist Yevgeny Kutik, family and history play a center role in his life. Arriving at age 5 as a refugee from the USSR, the hardship, work, and success that went along with it continually inspires his work.
“Exploring my cultural heritage and background has compelled me to move in unexpected directions as an artist,” he said.
Flemish composer and musician Wim Henderickx trusts his intuition. It is through this intuition he has become successful at his craft, with releasing albums, collaborating with different musical groups, and creating beautiful works of art. He is also a professor at Royal Conservatoire in Antwerp and at the Conservatoire in Amsterdam.
Despite her young age, success follows accordionist Hanzhi Wang. She is the first accordionist to join the roster of Young Concert Artists in its 57-year history, making her debut in New York this past fall. If that wasn’t enough, the record label Naxos releases its first-ever solo accordion album, Hanzhi’s On the Path to H.C. Andersen.
French Canadian pianist Alexandra Stréliski is inspired by emotions, people, and the experiences she lived. “I cannot make a distinction between that and the way I write,” she said. This is why her work touched many emotions to those her listen to her work, recently via Jean-Marc Vallée’s films Dallas Buyers Club (2013) and Demolition (2016), as well as the trailer of the acclaimed HBO series Big Little Lies (2017).