On Sunday, January 18, 2015, Music at the Institute presented Festival Chamber Music “Folk Tunes, Serenade, and More….” Works by Prokofiev, Stepovy, Bonkovsky, Zaremba, Beethoven and a Ukrainian folk song performed by Christine Antenbring, mezzo-soprano, Ruth Sommers, cello, Charles Neidich, clarinet and Mikhail Hallak.

Festival Chamber Music was founded in 1987 as a summer festival in Westchester (Dobbs Ferry). It continued for six seasons, drawing audiences from all over Westchester, Rockland, and Fairfield counties, and New York City and was broadcast on WQXR. In 1992, with a grant from the Vidda Foundation, Festival Chamber Music began a three-concert series in New York at Merkin Hall. The season was sold out and the following year, the series was expanded to its current five concert format. Since 2008, Festival Chamber Music Concerts have been held at Weill Hall in Carnegie Hall.

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Canadian mezzo-soprano CHRISTINE ANTENBRING is admired for the beauty of her voice, the incredible depth of her interpretations, and the craft she brings to the stage. Her repertoire spans four centuries, in thirteen different languages. She has performed to critical acclaim in Canada, the United States, and Europe. After a child-rearing hiatus, Ms. Antenbring returned to the stage in 2013, appearing with Festival Chamber Music at Carnegie Hall (Weill), the Baroque Orchestra of Maine in Cold Spring, N.Y., and also in recital at Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, Iceland, later reprised for Nuna(now) in her hometown of Winnipeg, Canada. Christine Antenbring was born into a family where music and singing were omnipresent. She graduated with an honors degree in Economics from the University of Winnipeg before pursuing vocal studies at Indiana University with renowned Romanian soprano Virginia Zeani. She and her family currently divide their time between Winnipeg and New York City.

Cellist RUTH SOMMERS, director of Festival Chamber Music, is a graduate of Juilliard, where she studied with Leonard Rose and Harvey Shapiro. She began her career under the auspices of Young Concert Artists and was a winner of a Concert Artists Guild Award. She is a frequent performer of chamber music and recitals in the United States and Europe. She has participated in the Caramoor and Wolftrap Festivals and was soloist with the Master Virtuosi Orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall. In 1988, she founded the Dobbs Ferry Chamber Music Festival, of which she was a director until becoming the director of this series in 1992.

Clarinetist CHARLES NEIDICH regularly appears as soloist and as collaborator in chamber music programs with leading ensembles, including the Saint Louis Symphony, Minneapolis Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, I Musici di Montreal, Tafelmusik, Handel/Haydn Society, Royal Philharmonic, Deutsches Philharmonic, MDR Symphony, Yomiuri Symphony, National Symphony of Taiwan, and the Juilliard, Guarneri, Brentano, American, Mendelssohn, Carmina, Colorado, and Cavani String Quartets. He is also a sought after participant in many music festivals, such as Marlboro and Sarasota in the U.S., Orford and Domaines Forget in Canada, BBC Proms in England, Festival Consonances and Pontivy in France, Corsi Internazionali di Perfezionamento in Italy, Kuhmo, Crusell Week, Turku, and Korsholm festivals in Finland, Apeldoorn Festival in Holland, Music from Moritzburg in Germany, the Kirishima and Lilia summer festivals in Japan, and the Beijing Festival in China.

Pianist MIKHAIL HALLAK, a native of Waterloo, Belgium, studied at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, where he received the Premier Prix de Piano and Premier Prix de Musique de Chambre. He completed further studies in Mons (Diplome Superieur de Piano Avec Distinction) and in the Netherlands, at the Maastricht Konservatorium, where he obtained an Uitvoeren Musicus (Doctorate) with the Highest Honors. In addition to receiving grants from the Fifty-One Club and the Queen Elizabeth Competition, he was both a Fulbright and Rotary scholar. Before his work as a collaborative pianist, he maintained an extensive schedule as a solo recitalist and orchestral soloist, as well as a chamber musician appearing on some of the world’s most important stages, including the Paris Opera Bastille, the Metropolitan Opera, as well as such prestigious institutions as the Cleveland Art Song Festival. Mr. Hallak was the founder and Artistic Director of the Belgian chamber music festival “Les Nuits d’Hiver au Chateau.” His first CD, dedicated to Jascha Heifetz, was released in 1998.

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