Close Encounters with Music Opens 23rd Season with “Mozart: Rejoice/ Exult!”

Photographs of Performing Artists

Roman Rabinovich, piano and celesta; Tara Helen O’Connor, flute; James Austin Smith, oboe; Daniel Phillips, violin; Xiao-Dong Wang, viola; Yehuda Hanani, cello

The 2014-15 Close Encounters With Music season opens at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Saturday, October 25, 6 PM with an all-Mozart program.  No composer has survived the shifting tides of ideas, styles and fashion more assuredly than Mozart.  The celestial blend of strings and winds in major works (Oboe Quartet in F, Flute Quartet in D) will affirm his status as incomparable master of the lighthearted as well as the profound. Stars of the chamber music world gather to showcase works written for wind virtuosos of his age—plus the Piano Quartet in E-Flat and rarely heard Quintet for Glass Harmonica, the instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin—and his incandescent Rondo in A minor for solo piano.

The “Mozartiana” program introduces oboist James Austin Smith, already inducted into Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society (“virtuosic” and “brilliant’ performances– The New York Times) in his Berkshire debut.  Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani is also joined by violinist Daniel Phillips, first of the noted Orion String Quartet; violist Xiao-Dong Wang; and flutist Tara Helen O’Connor.  Pianist Roman Rabinovich, winner of the 2008 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv, performs on both piano and celesta.   

For Concerts at the Mahaiwe
Tickets, $45 (Orchestra and Mezzanine) and $25 (Balcony), are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413.528.0100. Subscriptions are $225 ($195 for seniors) for a series of 6 series concerts PLUS one subscriber-only concert. Visit our website at

Flutist Tara Helen O’Connor is sought after for her unusual artistic depth, brilliant technique, and colorful tone in music of every era. Last season she premiered a new chamber work by John Zorn, made appearances at the Avila Chamber Music Celebration in Curaçao, and performed concerts in Hawaii and Georgia. She also gave her debut performance at the Mainly Mozart Festival with Windscape and returned to the festival to perform a concerto with Maestro David Atherton. This season she premieres Jonathan Berger’s new opera with the Saint Lawrence String Quartet. Ms. O’Connor has appeared at Zankel Hall, Symphony Space, Music@Menlo, the Chamber Music Festival of the Bluegrass, Spoleto USA, Chamber Music Northwest, and the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. She is a founding member of the Naumburg Award-winning New Millennium Ensemble, teaches at the Bard College Conservatory and Manhattan School of Music, is professor of flute and head of the wind department at Purchase College Conservatory of Music. Winner of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a two-time Grammy nominee, she is an Artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Violinist Daniel Phillips enjoys a versatile career as chamber musician, solo artist and teacher. He has appeared with many of the country’s leading symphonies, including those of Pittsburgh, Houston, New Jersey, Phoenix, and San Antonio. He performs regularly at Spoleto USA, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, and the International Musicians Seminar in Cornwall, England. He has also served on the faculties of the Banff Centre and the Colorado College Music Festival. He is a member of the renowned Bach Aria Group, and has toured and recorded in a string quartet for SONY, with Gidon Kremer, Kim Kashkashian, and Yo-Yo Ma. Upcoming are concerto appearances with the Nova Philharmonic in New York, and the Queens College Symphony under Maestro Maurice Peress.  Daniel Phillips is Professor of Violin at the Aaron Copland School of Music of Queens College, and on the faculties of Mannes College of Music and Bard Conservatory.

Roman Rabinovich is winner of the 2008 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv. Praised by critics for “vivacity and virtuosity” and his “impeccable clarity of execution,” he has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Israel in such prestigious venues as the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Wigmore Hall, Lucerne and Davos festivals in Switzerland, Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, the Metropolitan and the Isabella Stewart Gardner museums, the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory and Glazunov Hall in St. Petersburg, Vienna’s Musikverein, as well as the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago, Les Invalides in Paris and Kennedy Center. Born in Uzbekistan, he made his Israel Philharmonic Orchestra debut under the baton of Zubin Mehta at the age of ten. He has appeared with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Ann Arbor Symphony, Dohnányi Orchestra of Budapest, and the Neuchatel Chamber Orchestra (Switzerland), among others. In May 2008 he replaced Murray Perahia in a recital at the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv.  A graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music and with a Master’s from Juilliard, he also excels as an artist, often combining concerts with exhibitions of his paintings.

Oboist James Austin Smith performs equal parts new and old music across the United States and around the world.  Mr. Smith is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (Chamber Music Society Two), the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Talea Ensemble, Cygnus and Decoda, and is a regular guest of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.  He is a member of the faculty of the State University of New York at Purchase and the Manhattan School of Music.  Festival appearances have included Marlboro, Lucerne, Chamber Music Northwest, Schleswig-Holstein, OK Mozart, Schwetzingen and Spoleto USA. He has performed with the St. Lawrence and Orion string quartets and recorded for the Nonesuch, Bridge, Mode and Kairos labels. Mr. Smith received his Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music and graduated in 2005 with Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) and Bachelor of Music degrees from Northwestern.  He spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Leipzig, Germany at the Hochschule für Musik and is an alumnus of Ensemble ACJW, a collaboration of Carnegie Hall, Juilliard, the Weill Music Institute.  

Xiao-Dong Wanghas been called the most talented violinist to emerge from China. He began his studies at age 3 with his father, concertmaster of the Shanghai Symphony; he then studied with the renowned teacher Zhao Ji-Yang at the Shanghai Conservatory. As First Prize winner in the Menuhin International Violin Competition and the Wieniawski-Lipinski International Violin Competition at the ages of thirteen and fifteen, he was brought to the attention of violin pedagogue Dorothy DeLay who arranged a four-­year scholarship at Juilliard. Mr. Wang has performed as soloist with orchestras around the world, including the London Royal Philharmonic, the London Mozart Players, Adelaide, Perth, Queensland symphony orchestras and Sydney Opera Orchestra. His recording credits include the Bartok Concerto No. 2 and Szymanowski Concerto No. 1 for Polygram. He has also appeared performing on both violin and viola in chamber music concerts at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Aspen, Ravinia and festivals and music series worldwide. Wang was the resident soloist of the Shanghai Symphony for the 2012-13 season, during which he also performed as a soloist with other major Chinese orchestras, including the China Philharmonic in Beijing. 

Yehuda Hanani’s charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim across the globe.  His solo appearances have been with the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, and Seoul Symphony among others.  A frequent guest at Aspen, Bowdoin, Chautauqua, Yale at Norfolk, Great Lakes, Marlboro, Casals Prades, Finland, Ottawa, Oslo and Australia Chamber Music festivals, he has collaborated with preeminent fellow musicians. He made the first recording ever of the monumental Alkan Sonate en Concert, receiving a Grand Prix du Disque nomination.  On CD and in live performances, he has premiered works of Nikolai Miaskovsky, Lukas Foss, Leo Ornstein, Paul Schoenfield, Joan Tower, Eduard Franck, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Virgil Thomson, Jorge Martin and Bernard Rands, among other composers.  Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, he is artistic director of the innovative chamber music series Close Encounters With Music, based in the Berkshires. and director of the new Catskill High Peaks Festival in Hunter and Tannersville, NY. 

A consummate artist, Yehuda Hanani possesses élan and panache in spades, and “delivers with commanding assurance” (The Strad).  His cello speaks a powerful instrumental and emotional language!

“Rightly rewarded with cheers from the audience.”  The New York Times


Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Lera Auerbach, Robert Beaser, Kenji Bunch, Osvaldo Golijov, John Musto, and Paul Schoenfield among others—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists James Tocco, Adam Neiman, Walter Ponce, Lydia Artymiw, Roman Rabinovich, and Jeffrey Swann; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Yehonatan Berick, Vadim Gluzman, and Erin Keefe; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Amy Burton, Jennifer Aylmer, Robert White, Lucille Beer and William Sharp; the Vermeer, Amernet, Muir, Manahattan, Avalon, Hugo Wolf quartets, and Cuarteto Latinamericano; and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs. Close Encounters With Music programs have been presented in cities across the U.S. and Canada—Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Cincinnati, Calgary, Detroit, at the Frick Collection and Merkin Hall in New York City, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, MA, as well as in Scottsdale, AZ.  This summer, performances took place at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA; and the Catskill High Peaks Festival continued the educational mission of Close Encounters With Music with 50 international students in residence in the Great Northern Catskills in an immersive course of study and performance.


Mozart—Rejoice, Exult! Saturday, October 25, 6PM

Best of the Baroque, Saturday, December 6, 6PM

Sergei Rachmaninoff and Russian Orientalia, Saturday, March 21, 6PM

Surveying the Centuries – The New York Wind Quintet, Saturday, April 18, 6PM

Debussy and Schubert – The Avalon String Quartet, Saturday, May 16, 6PM

Invitation to the Dance, Saturday, June 13, 6PM

These six performances are at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, MA.
A reception with light refreshments follows each concert.
“CONVERSATIONS WITH…” —  A series of talks with notable composers, writers, performers, and cultural avatars “Touching the Sound” with filmmaker Peter Rosen at the Berkshire Museum, Sunday, November 2, 2PM. $15 per person includes light refreshments.

“Unsilent Composer” with composer Phil Kline at The Stables at The Mount, Sunday, May 3, 2PM.  $15 per person includes light refreshments.