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  • Carnegie Hall Presents
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On January 28, Pianist Emanuel Ax Kicks Off A Three Concert Series Featuring Music of Brahms and Four New York Premieres

On Tuesday, January 28 at 8:00 p.m. in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Hall, pianist Emanuel Ax launches a three-concert retrospective focusing on the music of Brahms played alongside new works, all co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall. On the first program, mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter sings the New York premiere of Nico Muhly’s So Many Things. Also on the program is Brahms’s beloved song cycle, Zigeunerlieder, as well as selected lieder, and solo piano pieces by the composer.

The series continues on Sunday, February 23 at 2:00 p.m., when Mr. Ax is joined by longtime friend and collaborator cellist Yo-Yo Ma in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Hall. The concert includes Brahms’s first two cello sonatas as well as the New York premiere of a new work for cello and piano, The MAX Duo, by Swedish composer Anders Hillborg, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall. In addition, this performance marks the first annual Isaac Stern Memorial Concert, honoring the late violinist and conductor. The concert will be will be aired on WQXR 105.9 FM in New York and on stations nationwide as part of the Carnegie Hall Live broadcast and digital series. Produced by WQXR, New York City’s classical music station, and Carnegie Hall, and presented in partnership with American Public Media, the series is hosted by WQXR’s Jeff Spurgeon and APM’s Fred Child, and is available for live streaming on wqxr.org and carnegiehall.org/wqxr. Select concerts will be archived for on-demand streaming post-broadcast. During each broadcast, WQXR and Carnegie Hall will host live chats featuring behind-the-scenes insights by the broadcast team, color commentary by the hosts, and interaction with the broadcast / webcast listeners, connecting national and international fans to the music and to each other.

The final concert in the series features the pianist in a solo recital, on Thursday, May 15 at 8:00 p.m. in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage. The program includes Brahms’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in F-sharp Minor; Klavierstücke, and Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, alongside New York premieres of Carnegie Hall co-commissions by Brett Dean and Missy Mazzoli.

Having studied and practiced the music of Brahms for over forty years, Emanuel Ax is dedicated to sharing the prolific composer’s music with audiences. The commissioned composers Missy Mazzoli, Anders Hillborg, Nico Muhly, and Brett Dean were asked to include a motive or theme based on the notes F, A, and F, a pattern heard in the opening of Brahms’s Third Symphony, as well as several other pieces, referring to the composer’s motto Frei aber Froh (free but happy). “We always do a lot of great music from the past, and there’s great music being written now” said Mr. Ax. “Sometimes it’s very enjoyable for me to try to make some connection between the two worlds.”

About the Artists
Pianist Emanuel Ax first captured public attention in 1974 after winning the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. In 1975, he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists, and, four years later, the coveted Avery Fisher Prize. Current season highlights include appearances at the Barbican Centre and Lincoln Center with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink, as well as collaborations with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Mariss Jansons in Amsterdam, Bucharest, China and Japan during their world-wide centenary celebrations. The second half of the season sees the realization of a project inspired by Brahms which includes new pieces from composers Missy Mazzoli, Nico Muhly, Brett Dean and Anders Hillborg all producing works linked to Brahms commissioned jointly between the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cal Performances Berkeley, Chicago Symphony and Carnegie Hall with the participation of collaborators Anne Sofie von Otter and Yo-Yo Ma. To conclude the season, he will travel to Hong Kong and Australia for a complete cycle of Beethoven concerti with incoming Chief Conductor David Robertson in Sydney, and Sir Andrew Davis in Melbourne.

Recent season highlights include an Artist in Residence post with the New York Philharmonic in 2012–2013, and a European tour led by Alan Gilbert. He recently returned to the orchestras in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Atlanta, Detroit, Washington, and Pittsburgh where he frequently performs as soloist. A Sony Classical exclusive recording artist since 1987, recent releases include Mendelssohn Trios with Yo-Yo- Ma and Itzhak Perlman, Strauss's Enoch Arden narrated by Patrick Stewart, and discs of two-piano music by Brahms and Rachmaninoff with Yefim Bronfman. Mr. Ax has received Grammy Awards for the second and third volumes of his cycle of Haydn’s piano sonatas. He has also made a series of Grammy-winning recordings with cellist Yo-Yo Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. A champion of 20th-century composers, Mr. Ax has premieres works by John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Krzysztof Penderecki, Bright Sheng, and Melinda Wagner. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Yale and Columbia Universities.
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