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Born in modern day Lvov, Poland, Emanuel Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. His studies at the Juilliard School were supported by the sponsorship of the Epstein Scholarship Program of the Boys Clubs of America, and he subsequently won the Young Concert Artists Award. Additionally, he attended Columbia University where he majored in French. Mr. Ax made his New York debut in the Young Concert Artists Series, and captured public attention in 1974 when he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. In 1975 he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists followed four years later by the coveted Avery Fisher Prize.
In partnership with colleagues Leonidas Kavakos and Yo-Yo Ma, he begins the current season with concerts in Vienna, Paris and London with the trios of Brahms recently released by SONY Classical. In the US he returns to the orchestras in Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Washington, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Nashville and Portland, OR, and to Carnegie Hall for a recital to conclude the season. In Europe he can be heard in Munich, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Vienna, London, and on tour with the Budapest Festival Orchestra in Italy.
Always a committed exponent of contemporary composers, with works written for him by John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Krzysztof Penderecki, Bright Sheng, and Melinda Wagner already in his repertoire, most recently he has added HK Gruber's Piano Concerto and Samuel Adams' "Impromptus".
A Sony Classical exclusive recording artist since 1987, recent releases include Mendelssohn Trios with Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, Strauss' Enoch Arden narrated by Patrick Stewart, and discs of two-piano music by Brahms and Rachmaninoff with Yefim Bronfman. In 2015 Deutche Grammophon released a duo recording with Mr. Perlman of Sonatas by Faure and Strauss, which the two artists presented on tour during the 2015/2016 season. Mr. Ax has received GRAMMY® Awards for the second and third volumes of his cycle of Haydn's piano sonatas. He has also made a series of Grammy-winning recordings with cellist Yo-Yo Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. His other recordings include the concertos of Liszt and Schoenberg, three solo Brahms albums, an album of tangos by Astor Piazzolla, and the premiere recording of John Adams's Century Rolls with the Cleveland Orchestra for Nonesuch. In the 2004/05 season Mr. Ax also contributed to an International EMMY® Award-Winning BBC documentary commemorating the Holocaust that aired on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In 2013, Mr. Ax's recording Variations received the Echo Klassik Award for Solo Recording of the Year (19th century music/Piano).
A frequent and committed partner for chamber music, he has worked regularly with such artists as Young Uck Kim, Cho-Liang Lin, Mr. Ma, Edgar Meyer, Peter Serkin, Jaime Laredo, and the late Isaac Stern.
Mr. Ax resides in New York City with his wife, pianist Yoko Nozaki. They have two children together, Joseph and Sarah. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Skidmore College, Yale University, and Columbia University.
Emanuel Ax, piano
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Yo-Yo Ma's multi-faceted career is testament to his continual
search for new ways to communicate with audiences, and to his
personal desire for artistic growth and renewal. Whether performing
new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, coming together
with colleagues for chamber music or exploring cultures and musical
forms outside the Western classical tradition, Mr. Ma strives to
find connections that stimulate the imagination.
Yo-Yo Ma maintains a balance between his engagements as soloist
with orchestras throughout the world and his recital and chamber
music activities. He draws inspiration from a wide circle of
collaborators, creating programs with such artists as Emanuel Ax,
Daniel Barenboim, Kayhan Kalhor, Ton Koopman, Yu Long, Edgar Meyer,
Mark Morris, Cristina Pato, Kathryn Stott, Chris Thile, Michael
Tilson Thomas, Wu Man, Wu Tong, and Damian Woetzel. Each of these
collaborations is fueled by the artists' interactions, often
extending the boundaries of a particular genre. One of Mr. Ma's
goals is the exploration of music as a means of communication and
as a vehicle for the migration of ideas across a range of cultures
throughout the world. To that end, he has taken time to immerse
himself in subjects as diverse as native Chinese music with its
distinctive instruments and the music of the Kalahari bush people
Expanding upon this interest, in 1998, Mr. Ma established
Silkroad, a nonprofit organization that seeks to create meaningful
change at the intersections of the arts, education and business.
Under his artistic direction, Silkroad presents performances by the
acclaimed Silk Road Ensemble and develops new music, cultural
partnerships, education programs, and cross-disciplinary
collaborations. Silkroad's ongoing affiliation with Harvard
University has made it possible to develop programs such as the
Arts and Passion-Driven Learning Institute for educators and
teaching artists, held in collaboration with the Harvard Graduate
School of Education, and a new Cultural Entrepreneurship initiative
in partnership with Harvard Business School. More than 80 new
musical and multimedia works have been commissioned for the Silk
Road Ensemble from composers and arrangers around the world.
Through his work with Silkroad, as throughout his career, Yo-Yo
Ma seeks to expand the cello repertoire, frequently performing
lesser known music of the 20th century and commissions of new
concertos and recital pieces. He has premiered works by a diverse
group of composers, among them Elliott Carter, Richard Danielpour,
Osvaldo Golijov, Leon Kirchner, Zhao Lin, Christopher Rouse,
Giovanni Sollima, Bright Sheng, Tan Dun, John Williams and Dmitri
Yanov-Yanovsky. In February of 2017 he will premiere a new concerto
by Esa-Pekka Salonen.
As the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Judson and Joyce Green
Creative Consultant, Mr. Ma is partnering with Maestro Riccardo
Muti to provide collaborative musical leadership and guidance on
innovative program development for The Negaunee Music Institute of
the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and for Chicago Symphony artistic
initiatives. Ma's work focuses on the transformative power music
can have in individuals' lives, and on increasing the number and
variety of opportunities audiences have to experience music in
their communities. In March 2016, he was appointed Artistic Advisor
at Large to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as
part of their expansive initiatives honoring the centenary of JFK's
birth and to encourage the idea of creative citizenship.
Yo-Yo Ma is strongly committed to educational programs that not
only bring young audiences into contact with music but also allow
them to participate in its creation. While touring, he takes time
whenever possible to conduct master classes as well as more
informal programs for students - musicians and non-musicians alike.
At the same time, he continues to develop new concert programs for
family audiences, for instance helping to inaugurate the family
series at Carnegie Hall. In each of these undertakings, he works to
connect music to students' daily surroundings and activities with
the goal of making music and creativity a vital part of children's
lives from an early age. He has also reached young audiences
through appearances on "Arthur," "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and
Mr. Ma's discography of over 100 albums (including 18 Grammy
Award winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. He has made
several successful recordings that defy categorization, among them
"Appalachia Waltz" and "Appalachian Journey" with Mark O'Connor and
Edgar Meyer, and two Grammy-winning tributes to the music of
Brazil, "Obrigado Brazil" and "Obrigado Brazil - Live in Concert."
Mr. Ma's recent recordings include: "The Goat Rodeo Sessions," with
Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile and Stuart Duncan, which received the 2013
Grammy for Best Folk Album, and "Songs from the Arc of Life," with
pianist Kathryn Stott. His most recent release, "Sing Me Home,"
recorded with the Silk Road Ensemble, was released in April 2016 as
the companion album to documentary film The Music of Strangers.
Created by Oscar-winning producer Morgan Neville, the film follows
the Ensemble's more than 50 musicians, composers, visual artists
and storytellers as they explore the ways art can both preserve
traditions and shape cultural evolution. In spring 2017, Mr. Ma
will release and tour "Bach Trios," recorded with Edgar Meyer and
Chris Thile. Mr. Ma remains one of the best-selling recording
artists in the classical field. All of his recent albums have
quickly entered the Billboard chart of classical best sellers,
remaining in the Top 15 for extended periods, often with as many as
four titles simultaneously on the list.
Yo-Yo Ma was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He
began to study the cello with his father at age four and soon came
with his family to New York, where he spent most of his formative
years. Later, his principal teacher was Leonard Rose at the
Juilliard School. He sought out a traditional liberal arts
education to expand upon his conservatory training, graduating from
Harvard University in 1976. He has received numerous awards,
including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the Glenn Gould Prize
(1999), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Dan David Prize
(2006), the Leonie Sonning Music Prize (2006), the World Economic
Forum's Crystal Award (2008), the Presidential Medal of Freedom
(2010), the Polar Music Prize (2012) and the Vilcek Prize in
Contemporary Music (2013). In 2011, Mr. Ma was recognized as a
Kennedy Center Honoree. Appointed a CultureConnect Ambassador by
the United States Department of State in 2002, Mr. Ma has met with,
trained and mentored thousands of students worldwide in countries
including Lithuania, Korea, Lebanon, Azerbaijan and China. He also
serves as a UN Messenger of Peace. He has performed for eight
American presidents, most recently at the invitation of President
Obama on the occasion of the 56th Inaugural Ceremony.
Mr. Ma and his wife have two children. He plays two instruments,
a 1733 Montagnana cello from Venice and the 1712 Davidoff
Yo-Yo Ma, cello