The Muse: Clara Schumann

ProMedica Masterworks

Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle

February 22 & 23, 2019

Concert Time: 8:00 pm

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Lio Kuokman, conductor
Sara Davis Buechner, piano

R. Schumann - Overture to Genoveva
C. Schumann - Piano Concerto
Brahms - Symphony No. 1

Rumors of a love triangle between composers Robert Schumann, his wife Clara Schumann, and Johannes Brahms have intrigued the classical music world for over a century. This program takes a closer look at the serendipitous intersection between three young composers, poignant love, and music born from tragedy.

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Sara Davis Buechner is one of the leading concert pianists of our time. She has been praised worldwide as a musician of “intelligence, integrity and all-encompassing technical prowess” (New York Times); lauded for her “fascinating and astounding virtuosity” (Philippine Star), and her “thoughtful artistry in the full service of music” (Washington Post); and celebrated for her performances which are “never less than 100% committed and breathtaking” (Pianoforte Magazine, London). Japan’s InTune magazine says: “When it comes to clarity, flawless tempo selection, phrasing and precise control of timbre, Buechner has no superior.”

In her twenties, Ms. Buechner was the winner of a bouquet of prizes at the world’s première piano competitions -- Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, Leeds, Salzburg, Sydney and Vienna. She won the Gold Medal at the 1984 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, and was a Bronze Medalist of the 1986 Tschaikowsky International Piano Competition in Moscow.

With an active repertoire of more than 100 concertos ranging from A (Albeníz) to Z (Zimbalist), she has appeared as soloist with many of the world’s prominent orchestras: New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Saint Louis, San Francisco, Montréal, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Honolulu, Qingdao and Tokyo; the CBC Radio Orchestra, Japan Philharmonic, City of Birmingham (U.K.) Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Moscow Radio Symphony, Kuopio (Finland) Philharmonic, Slovak Philharmonic and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León (Spain). Audiences throughout North and South America have applauded Ms. Buechner’s recitals in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and the Hollywood Bowl; and she enjoys wide success throughout Asia where she tours annually.

Sara Davis Buechner’s numerous recordings have received prominent critical appraisal. The New York Times greeted her recent Koch International CD of piano music by Rudolf Friml as a “revelation,” and devoted the front page of its Sunday Arts & Leisure section to her 1997 world première recording of the Bach-Busoni “Goldberg” Variations. Her George Gershwin album was selected as a “Record of the Month” by Stereophile magazine, and her traversal of Hollywood piano concertos by Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman won Germany’s Deutsches Schauplatten Preis for best soundtrack. Ms. Buechner’s extensive discography also includes rare American music of Dana Suesse, Pauline Alpert and Joseph Lamb, as well as the the complete piano music of Miklós Rózsa. Her piano artistry may also be heard on the recent DVD of Carl Dreiser’s 1925 silent film “Master of the House,” available through the Criterion Collection.

Ms. Buechner can be seen and heard on numerous live video and audio recordings on her website and YouTube Channel; and she has created many essays in written, spoken and film format on her blog “Sara Says.” She has recorded more than ten disks for the Yamaha Disklavier, Piano Soft and Grand Touch systems.

Sara Davis Buechner has given premières of important new music and film scores by many composers including Larry Bell, Dorothy Chang, Pierre Charvet, John Corigliano, Richard Danielpour, Ray Green, Miriam Hyde, Dick Hyman, Vitězslavá Kaprálová, Henry Martin, Jared Miller, Joaquín Nin-Culmell, David Raksin, Miklós Rózsa, Yukiko Nishimura and Wim Zwaag. She is one of the few pianists to actively perform piano scores to silent movies, notably the 150-minute long restored version of Ben-Hur (1925) at Lincoln Center. Ms. Buechner has also collaborated on dance projects with choreographer Neta Pulvermacher, performance artist Nori Nke Aka, and mimist Yayoi Hirano, and toured extensively as pianist with the Mark Morris Dance Group.

Profiles of Ms. Buechner have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Macleans, Paris Match, Noticias del Argentina, Out, Blade and Frontiers magazines; and she has been featured on the television programs Entertainment Tonight, Extra, In the Life, and Bynon. Appearances on radio include profiles on NPR’s The Fishko Files and Performance Today, WFMT’s Dame Myra Hess Recital Series, WNYC’s New Sounds with John Schaefer, and CBC’s Westcoast Performance and Richardson’s Roundup.

In 2016 Sara Davis Buechner joined the prestigious piano faculty of the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University in Philadelphia. She is a former faculty member of New York University and the University of British Columbia, and is an Honorary Visiting Professor of Music at the University of Shanghai. Ms. Buechner has presented lectures and masterclasses worldwide, notably at the Royal Academy in London, the Juilliard School in New York City, Indiana University, the Eastman School of Music, Shanghai Conservatory, and the Kobe-Yamate Gakuen in Osaka, Japan. She is a regular adjudicator of the Concert Artists Guild International Music Competition in New York, and has also served as a juror for the Rudolf Firkušný International Piano Competition in Prague, and the International E-Competition. In addition, Ms. Buechner has edited numerous books and scores as a principal consultant to Dover Publications International. For over 30 years, she has been a dedicated Yamaha Artist.

She and her spouse make their home in both Philadelphia and Takatsuki, Osaka, Japan. A noted baseball fan, she has made celebrated videos for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, and performed at the Mets’ Citified on their first-ever LGBT Pride Night in 2016. Since 2007 she has also been an Honorary Member of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team of Osaka.

 

Praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer as ‘a startling conducting talent’, Lio Kuokman was the laureate at the Svetlanov International Conducting Competition in Paris. Lio has served as assistant conductor to music director Yannick Nézet-Seguin at the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first Chinese conductor to be appointed in this position in the history of the orchestra and recently appointed as the Music Director of the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble. Lio has worked with many leading orchestras around the world including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Radio France Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic and Danish National Symphony Orchestra.

Recent highlights include debut with the NHK Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, a new opera production of Puccini’s La bohème in Hong Kong, Vail festival with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Festival de la Roque d’Anthéron in France with Sinfonia Varsovia and return to Nantes and Japan La Folle Journées Festival, and a celebration concert conducting the Hong Kong Philharmonic with the presence of the President of China Xi Jinping. His coming season highlight include debut with the Moscow Philharmonic and subscription debut with the Kyoto Symphony.

Equally sought after as an opera conductor, Lio has conducted in many opera productions including L’elisir d’amore, Pagliacci, Turandot, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto, Carmen and was invited by Maestro Valery Gergiev to be the guest conductor at the Mariinsky theatre conducting Rimsky-Kosarkov’s The Maid of Pskov. As a pianist, he has performed as soloist with many orchestras including the Salzburg Camerata and the Fort Worth Symphony.

Lio received his degree from the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory. He has studied with Otto-Werner Mueller and Hugh Wolff and in master-classes coached by Sir Simon Rattle, Michael Tilson Thomas, James Levine, Christopher Eschenbach and Alan Gilbert. Lio is a founding member and President of the Macao Chamber Music Association. For his contributions to the development of arts and culture, Lio has received Certificate of Commendation and Medal of Cultural Merit from both governments of Hong Kong and Macao.

 

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