Chamber trio opens Lawrence University’s 2016-17 Artist Series

The combined musical genius of violinist Ani Kavafian, pianist Anna Polonsky and clarinetist David Shifrin visit the Lawrence Memorial Chapel Friday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. to open Lawrence University’s 2016-17 Artists Series.

A photo of violinist Ani Kavafian.
Violinist Ani Kavafian

Tickets, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Polonsky is a late substitute for originally scheduled pianist Andre-Michel Schub, who had to cancel his appearance due to a medical emergency.

Each performer is an individual award-winning artist while  Kavafian and Shifrin have performed with Schub as a trio since 2005. As an ensemble, they have performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as well as in major national and international concert halls. While works by Mozart, Stravinsky and Poulenc are staples of their repertoire, the trio also features contemporary composers such as William Bolcom.

Catherine Kautsky, chair of the piano department at Lawrence’s conservatory of music hailed Kavafian and Shifrin as “an absolute master of their instrument.”

““I remember Ani Kavafian from her days as a very young violinist in New York and have heard her since on numerous occasions,” said Kautsky. “She’s a consummately sensitive collaborative player. David Shifrin must be one of the two or three most famous clarinetists in the world these days.”

A photo of clarinetist David Shifrin.
Clarinetist David Shifrin

Lawrence violin professor Wen-Lei Gu, who studied with Kavafian’s sister in New York City, called the concert “a rare opportunity for music lovers in the Fox Valley area to experience a top notch, world-class performance.”

“When I was going to graduate school in New York City, I had the great pleasure of seeing the Kavafians perform as part of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society concert series,” said Gu. “Each time it was an incredibly moving and inspiring experience. The upcoming concert is going to be a real musical treat.”

Each artist enjoys notable solo careers and each holds teaching positions at prestigious institutions: Kavafian and Shifrin at Yale School of Music, Polonsky at Vassar College.

A native of Istanbul, Turkey, Kavafian launched her professional career as a winner of the 1973 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. Three years later she was the recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant.

David Bell, who teaches clarinet in the Lawrence conservatory, called Shifrin “arguably the premiere clarinetist of his generation.”

“He has quite literally done it all — principal clarinet of a major symphony at age 23, a chamber musician of extraordinary skill throughout his career, a universally acclaimed concert soloist and recitalist and a fantastic career as one of the premiere teachers of his instrument,” said Bell. “He continues to perform at the highest level. For those of us who have gotten to know him a bit, he is an unfailingly humble, generous and warm human being. One of the really ‘good guys.’  It’s a privilege to have him coming to our campus and I hope many people will take advantage of the opportunity to attend his performance.”

A photo of pianist Anna Polonsky.
Pianist Anna Polonsky

Awarded an honorary professorship at China’s Central Conservatory in Beijing in 2007, Shifrin is one of only two wind players ever to win Avery Fisher Prize in the award’s 42-year history. Early in his career, Shifrin was a grand prize winner in both the Munich and the Geneva International Competitions and a recipient of a Solo Recitalists’ Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

A former student of renowned pianist Peter Serkin, Polonsky made her solo debut at the age of seven in Moscow, Russia. She has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia and is a frequent guest at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She has collaborated with many of the world’s leading chamber music artists and ensembles, including David Shifrin, Yo-Yo Ma, Richard Goode, Guarneri and Shanghai quartets.

Other performers on this year’s Artist Series line-up include the Elias String Quartet, Feb. 3, 2017; Mnozil Brass, March 29, 2017; and Roomful of Teeth, April 7, 2017.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.