GILAD KARNI, viola
Violist Gilad Karni has been praised throughout the world for his tone and interpretation. His technique and musicality have earned him countless honors, from first prizes at competitions to leadership roles in some of the world’s finest orchestras. Equally at home in orchestral and solo or chamber music settings, Karni can be heard on concert stages around the globe in a range of repertoire, as well as on recordings.
Karni has left his mark on many international viola competitions, including taking First Prize in the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition 1994 and Third Prize at the ARD Munich International Music Competition in 1993. Among Karni’s career highlights were concerts performing with the late Isaac Stern at his 70th birthday celebration in Tel-Aviv, with the Guarneri String Quartet in Carnegie Hall, and giving the 2009 world premiere of Prokofiev’s “Romeo & Juliet” arranged for viola and orchestra with the Berlin Symphony. Karni was a founding member of the Huberman quartet (1996-2001) and performed as a guest with the Jerusalem Quartet on tour with world famous pianist Menachem Pressler. He is currently Principal Violist of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, and prior to that, he was Principal Viola at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Karni plays on a viola made by Hiroshi Iizuka in 1982, previously owned by American violist and pedagogue Emmanuel Vardi.
BARRY SHIFFMAN, viola
Artistic director of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival and classical music at Rockport Music, internationally acclaimed violinist and violist Barry Shiffman is well-respected as a musician, educator and administrator. He was co-founder of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, and currently serves as both the Associate Dean and Director of Chamber Music at the Glenn Gould School and Dean of the Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. While in SLSQ, Shiffman served as artist-in-residence at Stanford University from 1998 to 2006 and as visiting artist at the University of Toronto from 1995 to 2006. He has also served in numerous roles at the Banff Centre and is currently Executive Director of the Banff International String Quartet Competition. Recipient of the Longy School’s Nadia Boulanger Prize for Excellence in the Art of Teaching, he received his formal studies at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, University of Toronto, Utrecht Conservatory, Hartt School of Music, Juilliard School and Yale University.
Nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award for its debut album Blueprinting, the Aizuri Quartet has quickly risen to the top echelon of chamber ensembles with its recent Grand Prize win at the 2018 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition. Through its engaging and thought-provoking programs, branded by The New York Times as “genuinely exciting” and “imaginative,” the Quartet has garnered critical acclaim. Based in New York City, the Aizuri Quartet was the 2017-2018 MetLiveArts String Quartet-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, presenting five unique programs throughout the season.
DANNY KOO, violin
Described as “unstinting in energetic projection every step of the way” (Calgary Herald), violinist Danny Koo has carved out a distinctive professional profile as a chamber musician, soloist, and recitalist in appearances throughout the world. An outgoing personality, Danny has been profiled on Korean television and in print media, including Marie Claire Korea and Scene Playbill Magazine. Most recently, Danny shared at two TEDxBeaconStreet conferences. He currently leads Toronto’s Academy Chamber Orchestra alongside Barry Shiffman at the Royal Conservatory of Music, where he is a Rebanks Fellow. In Korea, he has partnered with ‘Pinkfong’ (creators of Baby Shark) to educate and excite the youngest generation of our world about classical music. He holds a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the New England Conservatory. He plays on a violin made in Naples by Vincenzo Postiglione in 1901.
KEVIN AHFAT, piano
An acclaimed pianist who “leaves no question about his riveting presentation and technical finesse” (Seattle Times), Kevin Ahfat has made a name for himself as both a soloist and chamber musician throughout North America. Ahfat completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at the Juilliard School in New York under the tutelage of Mr. Joseph Kalichstein and Mr. Stephen Hough, where he also served as a Keyboard Teaching Fellow. Beginning in the fall of 2018, he began the prestigious Rebanks Family Fellowship & International Performance Residency at the Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory in Toronto.