On Saturday, November 2, 2014, Music at the Institute presented a concert French Twist – The Apollo Trio. Works by Debussy, Arensky and Chausson performed by violinist Curtis Macomber, cellist Michael Kannen and pianist Marija Stroke.
Curtis Macomber, violin
Michael Kannen, cello
Marija Stroke, piano
The Apollo Trio was formed in 1997 after playing together in the Soirées des Junies Music Festival in the south of France and has performed to critical acclaim in the United States and in Europe. In addition to frequent appearances at American music festivals — from the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York to Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Oregon, and in chamber music series throughout the United States — the trio has performed at prominent New York venues, including Caramoor, Bargemusic, Avery Fisher Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
The Apollo Trio was featured in the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s “Great Day in New York” Festival at Alice Tully Hall (2001), and among their performances there the trio gave the New York premiere of David Schiff’s New York Nocturnes, and the world premiere of Bruce Adolphe’s Wind Across the Sky (2007) for piano trio and soprano. The Apollo Trio made its Kennedy Center debut in 2009. The trio recently finished recording the complete Dvorak piano trios.
Violinist Curtis Macomber was recently praised by The New York Times for the “thrilling virtuosity” of his playing and by Strad magazine for its “panache.” He enjoys a varied and distinguished career as soloist, chamber musician, and teacher, and he has for several decades been recognized as one of this country’s foremost interpreters and proponents of new music. Mr. Macomber’s extensive discography includes the complete Brahms and Grieg sonatas, violin concertos by Martin Boykan and Laura Schwendinger, and hundreds of critically praised recordings of contemporary solo and chamber works. His CD of Roger Sessions Solo Sonata was acclaimed by American Record Guide as “one of the best recordings of 20th Century solo violin music ever made.” A solo CD entitled Songs of Solitude was named by the New York Observer as one of 1996’s best instrumental solo discs (“Macomber’s intensely human fiddle…seems an entire universe, sufficient unto itself”). He has recorded for Nonesuch, Koch, Bridge, Arabesque, Naxos and Musical Heritage and Albany; he has performed, commissioned, and made first recordings of solo violin and chamber works by, among others, Carter, Davidovsky, Perle, Wuorinen, and Mackey. Mr. Macomber is a founding member of the Apollo Piano Trio and a member of the Da Capo Chamber Players, the Manhattan String Quartet, the Walden Chamber Players, and the New York Chamber Soloists. He was for many years the violinist of Speculum Musicae and has also appeared with the New York New Music Ensemble, Group for Contemporary Music, and in chamber music series across the country and in Europe. He has been a regular participant at La Musica in Sarasota, at the Yellow Barn Festival, and at the Monadnock Music Festival.
Cellist Michael Kannen has distinguished himself as a musician and educator of uncommon accomplishment who is comfortable in widely diverse musical situations and venues. He was a founding member of the Brentano String Quartet and for seven years performed with that group on concert stages around the world, on radio and television, and on recordings. During those years, the Brentano Quartet was awarded the first Cleveland Quartet Award, the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, a Royal Philharmonic Award, and was the first participant in the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center II program. Mr. Kannen continues to perform chamber music around the country as a member of the Apollo Trio, on period instruments with the Houston-based group Context and at major music festivals such as Yellow Barn, Chamber Music Northwest, Portland Chamber Music Festival, and the International Musicians Seminar in Prussia Cove, England. Mr. Kannen has collaborated with such artists as Jessye Norman, Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Sergiu Luca, Donald Weilerstein, Pamela Frank, Leon Fleisher, Mitsuko Uchida, Peter Frankl, Paula Robison, David Krakauer, Steven Isserlis, and with jazz artists Michael Formanek and Uri Caine. His activities range from performances on period instruments to premieres of the music of our time. He has recorded for the CRI label.
Pianist Marija Stroke has performed chamber music and solo recitals throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia, and Hong Kong. The New York Times has described her music making as “delightfully extroverted, Stroke’s playing was splendid” and “piercing through to the composer’s melancholy soul.” Ms. Stroke performs at such music festivals as Caramoor, the City of London Festival, Soirées des Junies in France, Chamber Music Virginia, the Moab Festival in Utah, La Jolla Summerfest, Juneau Jazz and Classics, and Chamber Music Northwest. She has made concerto appearances in the United States, France, Germany and Austria. Ms. Stroke is also co-artistic director of the Garden City Chamber Music Society. She has performed chamber music with the Brentano, Miami, Daedalus, and Borromeo string quartets. Her recordings include chamber music of Bruce Adolphe with the Brentano String Quartet on a CRI disc — Turning, Returning (“Stroke and the Brentano String Quartet offer performances that are spectacularly heartfelt, colorful, and technically assured” Stereophile), released in 1997, and the three sonatas for violin and piano of Edvard Grieg, with violinist Curtis Macomber, released in 2002 on the Arabesque label. Do You Dream in Color, a recording with mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin of music by Bruce Adolphe, Joaquin Rodrigo, and Gabriel Fauré was released by Bridge Records in 2012 and was awarded “Critics’ Choice” by American Record Guide.