Close Encounters with Music Presents its Season Finale Gala: Like Father-in-Law, Like Son-in-Law: Antonin Dvorak and Josef Suk

Photograph of Performing Artist

APRIL 15, 2019

(Great Barrington, MA) Czech nationalist composer Antonin Dvořák rose to fame in Prague, paving the way for his favorite student and later son-in-law Josef Suk.  There was great closeness and spiritual kinship between them, and both were championed by Brahms (who confessed to envying Dvořák’s melodic gifts!)  Dvořák’s Rondo and Suk’s Balada and Pisen Lasky love song are rarely performed gems, and the more familiar Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major by Dvořák is acknowledged as one of the masterpieces in the form, along with those of Schumann and Brahms.  In fact, Dvořák assimilated Brahms’ techniques and methods, while his exuberance, earthiness and the warmth of his melodies ennoble Bohemian folklore. This program will transport listeners to the cobbled streets of Old Prague and back to an era when music served as the voice of the Czech people.  An all-star ensemble of superb performers brings extraordinary virtuosity and musicianship to this joyous and heart-warming repertoire.

“The Piano Quintet offers a cornucopia of heavenly tunes.  It’s sheer beauty coupled with earthy sensuality–a perfect blend of popular and highbrow.  And my colleagues are not only among the great performers and interpreters of our time, but we have a winning chemistry and musical bond,” states artistic director Yehuda Hanani.

The composer Josef Suk was part of a great musical dynasty–his father was a violinist, as was his grandson, also Josef Suk, who founded the Suk Chamber Orchestra performed as a violin soloist under conductor George Solti. The elder Suk’s greatest influence was Dvořák himself, and the great tragedy of his life was that his wife–Dvořák’s daughter Ottilie–died after only a few years of marriage. Both Dvořák and Suk reveal through their music sentiments which have all but vanished from contemporary life–gentility, elegance, a sense of place. “We can’t wait to discover new depths and new joy as we dive into this program together” says Hanani.

Soyeon Kate Lee, piano; Irina Muresanu and Peter Zazofsky, violin; Michael Strauss, viola; Yehuda Hanani, cello
Our Preferred Patron’s Gala Package includes prime seating at the beautiful Mahaiwe for this incredible concert and dinner to follow in the elegant dining room of the Stockbridge Club in Stockbridge, MA. To purchase tickets, see below.

Tickets, $50 (Orchestra and Mezzanine), $27 (Balcony) and $15 for students, are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413-528-0100, Preferred Patron’s Gala Package, which includes concert ticket & dinner at the Stockbridge Club is $125 and can be purchased by calling 800-843-0778, and at

Tickets to Close Encounters’ summer Berkshire High Peaks Festival events, July 23-August 2, and next season’s subscriptions are available to purchase by contacting 800-843-0778 or [email protected]


Yehuda Hanani’s charismatic cello playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and re-engagements 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, I Solisti Zagreb, and Taipei and Seoul symphonies, among others. He has been a guest at Aspen, Bowdoin, Chautauqua, Marlboro, Yale at Norfolk, Round Top (TX), Great Lakes, and Grand Canyon festivals, Finland Festival, Great Wall (China), Leicester (England), Ottawa, Prades (France), Oslo, and Australia Chamber Music festivals, and has collaborated in performances with preeminent fellow musicians, including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Itzhak Perlman, Julian Rachlin, Vadim Repin, Dawn Upshaw, Shlomo Mintz, Yefim Bronfman, the Tokyo, Vermeer, Muir, Lark, Avalon and Manhattan quartets, as well as members of the Cleveland, Juilliard, Borromeo, and Emerson. In New York City, Yehuda Hanani has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, The Frick, and at the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. In addition to his pioneering recordings of Charles Valentin Alkan (for which he received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination), Nikolai Miaskovsky, Leo Ornstein, and Eduard Franck, he is one of the originators of thematic programming with commentary that engages and illuminates contemporary audiences. Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory and past faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory, he will join the faculty at the Mannes School of Music in New York City in 2020.

“The sonatas came bounding to life in vital interpretations rich in imaginative detail and virile strength.  Mr. Hanani was rightly rewarded with cheers from the audience.” –The New York Times           
“Soulful, fiery performance.” –The New York Times                     

Soyeon Kate Lee, the Korean-American pianist who won first-prize of the 2010 Naumburg International Piano Competition and the 2004 Concert Artist Guild International Competition, has been lauded by the New York Times as gifted with “a huge, richly varied sound, a lively imagination and a firm sense of style.” Lee has been guest soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and the San Diego Symphony; the Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra and Ulsan Symphony Orchestra (South Korea), Orquesta de Valencia (Spain) and Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional (Dominican Republic), including performances under the batons of Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and Otto-Werner Mueller. He recent appearances include New York’s Zankel, Weill, Merkin and Alice Tully halls; Washington’s Kennedy Center, Cleveland’s Severance Hall, the Ravinia Festival’s “Rising Stars” series, Auditorio de Musica de Nacional in Madrid, and Finland’s Mänttä Music Festival. She frequently collaborates in festivals throughout the U.S., including Santa Fe and Music Mountain. At Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society Two, her performance of the Mozart Piano Trio was broadcast on PBS “Live from Lincoln Center.” A Naxos recording artist, her discography spans Scarlatti sonatas, Liszt opera transcriptions, and two volumes of Scriabin works, with upcoming releases of Clementi Sonatas.

“Soyeon Lee displayed a stunning command of the keyboard, from the beautifully gauged weighting of her finger strokes to the scrupulous calibration of inner voices and dynamics.” –The Washington Post

Praised by the Boston Globe as “not just a virtuoso, but an artist,” Romanian violinist Irina Muresanu has won the hearts of audiences and critics alike with her exciting, elegant and heartfelt performances of the classic, romantic and modern repertoire. She achieved early international acclaim as an outstanding young soloist, recitalist and chamber musician winning top prizes in several prestigious international violin competitions including the Montreal, Queen Elizabeth, Pro Musicis, Presser Music Award, and the Arthur Foote Award from the Harvard Musical Association. Recent solo engagements include appearances with the Boston Pops, Miami Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (Geneva), Syracuse Symphony, the Transvaal Philharmonic (Pretoria, S. Africa), Romanian National Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Radio Flamande (Brussels), and the Boston Philharmonic.  Her recent recording releases the complete William Bolcom Violin and Piano Sonatas on the Centaur label with pianist Michael Lewin. Festival appearances have included Bay Chambers and Bowdoin in Maine, Strings in the Mountains and San Juan Music Festival in Colorado, Maui Chamber Music Festival in Hawaii, and the Renncontres des Musiciennes Festival in France. She received an Artist Diploma degree and a Doctor in Musical Arts degree from the New England Conservatory.

“Muresanu’s performance was simply spectacular.”–Boston Musical Intelligencer

Known for his “rich tone and lyrical acumen” (Chicago Tribune), violist Michael Isaac Strauss has performed around the world as a soloist, recitalist, in chamber music, and in symphonic settings. His love for the intimate concert setting has led to performances on concert series, live radio broadcasts, and festival appearances across Europe, North America, and Asia. A former member of the distinguished Fine Arts Quartet, Strauss made several European and domestic tours with them, as well as a critically acclaimed recording of Mozart’s complete viola quintets on the Lyrinx label. He is a founding member of the new Indianapolis Quartet, in residence at the University of Indianapolis since 2016, where he also serves on the faculty. Strauss’ solo work is featured on several CDs—the debut recording of Jennifer Higdon’s Viola Sonata, David Finko’s Viola Concerto and Stamitz’s works for solo viola with orchestra (Centaur). He recently released Wordless Verses (Naxos)—trio works inspired by poetry for oboe, viola, and piano with the Jackson Trio. He was principal violist of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for 20 years and has served on the faculty of several prominent schools including Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, and Swarthmore College. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and performs on a viola attributed to Matteo Albani of Bolzano, Italy in 1704.

Violinist Peter Zazofsky has enjoyed a richly varied career as a soloist, chamber musician and educator that spans thirty years and thirty countries on five continents. He has performed with many of the great orchestras in the U.S. and Europe, including the Boston Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Atlanta, Minnesota, and Hong Kong, collaborating with maestros Tennstedt, Ozawa, Ormandy and Kurt Sanderling. As a recitalist, Mr. Zazofsky has given innovative programs in Carnegie Hall, Sala Cecilia Meireles in Rio de Janeiro, Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels and the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aries. He also tours the world’s music centers as first violinist of the Muir String Quartet, for which he has performed many complete cycles of the Beethoven quartets A native of Boston, he first studied with Joseph Silverstein before entering the Curtis Institute, where he continued with Ivan Galamian and Dorothy Delay and went on to win top prizes at the 1979 Montreal Competition and 1980 Queen Elisabeth in Brussels. He is a frequent visitor to Israel, where he has given over forty performances of concerti. In recent years Peter Zazofsky has given premieres of new works written for him by composers in Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Spain and Poland and has encouraged creation of new works by American composers Joan Tower, Sheila Silver and Richard Danielpour. Long committed to teaching, Zazofsky holds the position of Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at Boston University and serves as a jury member for the violin competitions in Montreal, Brussels and Odense, Denmark.


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 the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and enlighten the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Joan Tower, Judith Zaimont, 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, Roman Rabinovich, Soyeon Kate Lee, Walter Ponce and Jeffrey Swann; violinists,Shmuel Ashkenasi, Vadim Gluzman, Julian Rachlin, Peter Zazofsky, Itamar Zorman and Erin Keefe; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein and Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Rivera, Danielle Talamantes and Kelley O’Connor; the Muir, Manhattan, Ariel, Vermeer, Escher, Avalon, Hugo Wolf, Dover string quartets; and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet 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 The Clark in Williamstown, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, MA, as well as in Scottsdale, AZ. Summer performances have taken place at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. This year, the High Peaks Festival moved to the Berkshires to the Berkshire School in Sheffield, MA, where it has continued as the educational mission of Close Encounters With Music with fifty international students in residence for an immersive course of study and performance.

Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani has led the series since its founding, providing entertaining, erudite commentary that puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and amplify the concert experience. Each concert is framed by an introduction before the music, and is followed by an AFTERGLOW reception with an opportunity to meet the musicians. Venues include the landmark Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and the newly renovated Saint James Place in Great Barrington. To complement the musical offerings, two guest speakers, Haydn scholar Caryl Clark, and composer Tamar Muskal are featured in the Conversations With…. series at the West Stockbridge Historical Society and Casana T-House in Hillsdale, NY.