Parker Quartet | Cristina Zavalloni, soprano | Blake Pouliot, violin | Stephen Prutsman, piano | Vera Quartet
The 38th Rockport Chamber Music Festival opens with a spectacular evening of music inspired by the Roaring 20’s and followed by a celebratory cocktail party with the artists. The Opening Night concert brings music by Ravel, Milhaud, and an original score by Stephen Prutsman performed to Buster Keaton’s 1927 film College, highlighting how the explosion of jazz during the 1920’s inspired classical music and the world around it. For example, in 1922, Milhaud’s experience of hearing jazz in Harlem impacted his musical perspective including La Creation du monde, in which he used elements of jazz for the ballet score. Ravel was also inspired by jazz and blues for his Violin Sonata No. 2.
All Opening Night concert attendees are invited to a celebratory cocktail reception immediately following the concert at the Rockport Art Association & Museum.
STEPHEN PRUTSMAN, piano
Stephen Prutsman has been described as one of the most innovative musicians of his time. Moving easily from classical to jazz to world music styles as a pianist, composer and conductor, Prutsman continues to explore and seek common ground and relationships in the music of all cultures and languages. Stephen has served as Artistic Partner with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra as well as Artistic Director of the Cartagena International Festival of Music, South America’s largest festival of its kind.
As a composer, Stephen’s long collaboration with Grammy Award-winning Kronos Quartet has resulted in over 40 arrangements and compositions for them. Other leading artists and ensembles who have performed Stephen’s compositions and arrangements include Leon Fleisher, Dawn Upshaw, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Spoleto USA, and the Silk Road Project. As a pianist or arranger outside of the classical music world he has collaborated with such diverse personalities from Joshua Redman to Jon Anderson of “YES.” Passionate about the value of music for all, Stephen actively promotes music and arts education wherever he visits and is involved in several projects to create enjoyable artistic or recreational environments for children on the autistic spectrum and their families. Stephen lives in San Francisco.
Inspiring performances, luminous sound, and exceptional musicianship are the hallmarks of the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet. Renowned for its dynamic interpretations and polished, expansive colors, the group has rapidly distinguished itself as one of the preeminent ensembles of its generation.
Founded and currently based in Boston, the Parker Quartet’s numerous honors include winning the Concert Artists Guild Competition, the Grand Prix and Mozart Prize at France’s Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition, and Chamber Music America’s prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award. Now Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music, and also in-residence at USC School of Music, the Quartet has held numerous prestigious residencies over its history. The Parker Quartet’s members hold graduate degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School.
BLAKE POULIOT, violin
Establishing himself as one of Canada’s most promising young artists, 2wenty-four-year-old violinist Blake Pouliot won the Grand Prize at the 2016 Orchestra Symphonique de Montréal (OSM) Manulife Competition and has been described by the Toronto Star as “one of those special talents that come along once in a lifetime.” Mr. Pouliot is currently a Professional Studies Certificate candidate at the Colburn School Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, where he studies with Robert Lipsett, the Jascha Heifetz Distinguished Violin Chair. At Colburn, Mr. Pouliot has been a member of the Colburn Artists program for students readying to launch solo or chamber-music careers.
CRISTINA ZAVALLONI, soprano
Born in Bologna, Italy, Cristina Zavalloni’s musical background is steeped in jazz, bel canto, and composition. She attended the Conservatorio di Musica ‘Giovan Battista Martini’ and also studied classical and modern dance for several years. Ms. Zavalloni has appeared at the Montreux Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Free Music Jazz Festival (Antwerp), Umbria Jazz, and the London Jazz Festival, as well as the finest concert halls throughout the world.
Her repertoire today ranges from Monteverdi to Mozart, and from twentieth century music to contemporaries including James MacMillan, Michael Nyman, Cornelis De Bondt, and Paolo Castaldi among others. As a composer and a jazz bandleader, Ms. Zavalloni has conceived several programs. She is currently signed with Italian label EGEA, for which she recorded IDEA (2006) and Solidago (2009), which includes her own compositions and a selection of Charles Aznavour covers.
Winners of the 2018 Astral Artists National Auditions, the Vera Quartet has been named the String Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music. The Quartet also received Grand Prizes at recent Plowman and Yellow Springs competitions, top prizes from the M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, and the St. Lawrence award from the Wigmore Hall String Quartet Competition. With members from Spain, Cuba, and the USA, the ensemble shares a deep commitment to exploring and programming the music of their roots, in juxtaposition with the great masterworks of the string quartet repertoire.
Formed in 2015, the Vera Quartet has been in residence at the Beethovenhaus in Bonn, Germany and at the Jacobs School of Music. In 2017, the quartet was chosen as part of NPR’s Performance Today’s Young Artist in Residence program and has participated in residency programs at the Banff Centre in Canada and Aspen Music Festival, where they worked closely with Augusta Read Thomas performing the Aspen premiere of her piece, Selene.