Chopin and His Circle Chopin’s Piano Revolution with Adam Neiman

A Painting of Chopin

Close Encounters With Music continues its 18th season Saturday, April 24, 6PM with Chopin and His Circle, the second of two programs celebrating the bicentennial of Chopin’s birth. From John Field, father of the Nocturne, who paved the way for Frederic Chopin’s masterworks in the genre, to Hummel, whose music he heard in his youth and whose concerti he performed, to the cellist Franchomme, for whom Chopin composed his Cello Sonata, to the charismatic Paganini, a frequent collaborator, this program offers a spectrum of works by Chopin’s friends and mentors, as well as his own sublime Ballades and Nocturnes.

Chopin explored the resources of the developing pianos of his day, resulting in the creation of new territory for future generations to admire and plumb – with harmonies from beyond the boundaries of what was then theoretically possible. His calling cards were a polished personality and a body of highly individualistic music which projected its novel beauty instantaneously. In music as seduction of the ear, no composer has surpassed him.

Joining artistic director Yehuda Hanani at the Mahaiwe performance are pianist Adam Neiman, violinist Stefan Milenkovich, and cellist Amy Gillingham. The concert will be complemented by a Chopin Hour the following afternoon, part of Close Encounters’ Conversations With… a series of illuminating talks by notable speakers and performers. Guest pianist Adam Neiman is featured both at the Mahaiwe concert Saturday evening and on Sunday, April 25, 2 PM at the Hudson Opera House, Hudson, NY.

Adam Neiman is hailed as one of the premier pianists of his generation and praised for possessing a rare blend of power, bravura, imagination, and technical precision. With a burgeoning international career and an encyclopedic repertoire that spans over fifty concertos, he has performed as soloist with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Minnesota, and San Francisco, as well as with the New York Chamber Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra. He has won the Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Gilmore Young Artist Award, and the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists and joined the roster of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center II for the 2004-2006 seasons. As a composer, his output includes works for solo piano, voice, chamber ensembles, a symphony and a violin concerto.

Violinist Stefan Milenkovich is recognized internationally for both exceptional artistry and his life-long commitment to humanitarianism, begining with his appointment as Child Ambassador of the First Children’s Embassy founded in Medjasi, Yugoslavia, during the war in Bosnia. At age seven he won the grand prize in the Jaroslav Kozian Violin Competition, and came to international attention when at age ten he was invited to perform for President Ronald Reagan at a White House Christmas celebration. He also performed for former Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev and twice for Pope John Paul II. He has made concerto appearances with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, Belgrade Philharmonic, Orchestra of Radio-France, Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, St. Petersburg State Orchestra, National Orchestra of Belgium, and the Melbourne and Queensland Symphonies in Australia. He has served on the violin faculty of the Perlman Music Program on Shelter Island and is a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Cellist Amy Gillingham is an active solo, chamber, and orchestral musician and has given concerts across the eastern United States, Canada, Latin America, and Italy. She was hailed for her “rich sonority” by the Portland Press Herald. She holds degrees from the North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she is currently finishing a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree as a student of Yehuda Hanani and is an adjunct faculty member in the theory department. She recently performed with the Central Michigan Symphony Orchestra as solo cellist in a premiere performance of Tan Dun’s Water Passion after St. Matthew and at the Bowdoin International Music Festival.

Yehuda Hanani’s charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and reengagements across the globe. An extraordinary recitalist, he is equally renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony, Jerusalem Symphony, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, and Taipei and Seoul symphonies, among others. His recording of the monumental Alkan Cello Sonata—the first ever—received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination, and his other discs have won wide recognition. His best-selling recording of the Unaccompanied Bach Suites has become a standard-setter, and of his recent Naxos CD with the National Symphony of Ireland Fanfare Magazine wrote: “Renowned cellist Yehuda Hanani, great virtuoso that he is, handles this with astounding aplomb… .”

Close Encounters continues its tradition of commentary before each performance and of inviting the entire audience to the Afterglow reception to meet the artists immediately following the concerts.

Tickets for Saturday, April 24, $35 or $25 for adults and $10 for students, are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413.528.0100, through Close Encounters With Music at 800-843-0778, or by emailing [email protected]. Please visit our website at

Chopin and His Circle Saturday, April 24, 6 PM

Prague Spring—Czech Idyll Saturday, June 5, 6 PM

All performances take place at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Chopin Hour Sunday, April 26, 2 PM at the Hudson Opera House, 327 Warren Street, Hudson, New York. Tickets are available at the door. Reservations are suggested: [email protected]. $25 includes tea and pastries by Verdigris of Hudson

“A chamber music series on a par with anything heard at the height of the season. For this, we year-rounders are blessed.” —Rogovoy Report

“‘L’Histoire” known in English as “A Soldier’s Story,’ … was an intriguing project, and a noble effort… [an]exuberant theatrical adventure… Stravinsky’s winsomely galloping waltzes, polkas and marches framing the dialogues were in superb hands with the ensemble…”

—Berkshire Eagle (December 2009)

“There’s a palpable mystique about these Close Encounters concerts.” —Berkshire Eagle

“STUNNER CLOSES SEASON! Though Hanani, Prutsman and Upshaw all performed with that rare combination of mutual understanding and technical finesse which makes for the most satisfying chamber music, Hanani deserves special recognition for his astute program choices.”

—Albany Times Union

“An all-star lineup…CEWM’s usual high caliber.” —Metroland

About Soldier’s Tale! performance December 2009: “…an intriguing project, and a noble effort… exuberant theatrical adventure… Stravinsky’s winsomely galloping waltzes, polkas and marches framing the dialogues were in superb hands with the ensemble.” —Berkshire Eagle