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  • Carnegie Hall Presents
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  • WRH Weill Recital Hall

Robert Mealy and Friends

The Early Moderns: The Invention of the Sonata
Friday, January 19, 2018 7:30 PM Weill Recital Hall
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Robert Mealy by Ming Wang
Robert Mealy is the preeminent American period instrument violinist. Praised for his “imagination, taste, subtlety, and daring” (The Boston Globe), he is joined by longtime partners for a concert of dazzlingly virtuosic and brilliantly extravagant music by such 17th-century innovators as Castello, Pandolfi, Erlebach, Biber, and Schmelzer.

Part of Salon Encores.

Part of: Early Music in Weill Recital Hall


Robert Mealy, Violin
Avi Stein, Harpsichord
Charles Weaver, Theorbo
Beiliang Zhu, Cello

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

At at Glance

We think of the sonata today as being that expansive musical architecture perfected by Mozart and Beethoven, but in fact it began its life as something very different. The sonata first emerged around the same time that the violin came into its own as a solo instrument, right around the turn of the 17th century. This was a time of self-consciously “new music,” and the early sonata was very much an experimental form, full of radical contrasts and surprising swerves of tempo and mood. This evening’s concert is a celebration of the rich and strange world of the 17th-century sonata, from its birth in Venice around 1620 to its elaboration in the hands of German composers in the 1690s. It is also an investigation of the aesthetic delights of this early modern period, when the quirky, the unexpected, the sumptuous were all things to be savored: In the spirit of the time, this program is a “cabinet of curiosities,” full of wonders and astonishments.


Robert Mealy, Violin
Robert Mealy is one of America’s most prominent Baroque violinists. His playing has been praised by The Boston Globe for its “imagination, taste, subtlety, and daring.” Mr. Mealy began exploring early music in high school
at the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied harpsichord and Baroque violin. While still an undergraduate at Harvard, he was asked to join the distinguished Canadian Baroque orchestra Tafelmusik. Since then, he has recorded more than 80 CDs of early music on most major labels, ranging from Hildegard of Bingen with Sequentia, to Renaissance consorts with the Boston Camerata, to Rameau operas with Les Arts Florissants. He has appeared at international festivals from Berkeley to Bergen, and from Melbourne to Moscow.

A devoted chamber musician, he co-directs Quicksilver, whose recordings and festival appearances have delighted audiences across the US. As orchestra director for the Boston Early Music Festival, he has led the ensemble in operas, international tours, and Grammy-winning recordings for more than a decade. Mr. Mealy regularly performs as a soloist and ensemble leader in New York City, especially on Avi Stein’s concert series for The Helicon Foundation and as principal concertmaster of Trinity Church Wall Street, which last year finished a cycle of the complete sacred vocal works of J. S. Bach. Recent chamber projects have included performing the complete Bach sonatas for violin and harpsichord with Kenneth Slowik at the Smithsonian, recording the complete works of Nicolaus Bruhns with Masaaki Suzuki, and directing a series of programs for TENET on the art of medieval lyric song.

A keen scholar as well as a performer, Mr. Mealy is director of the historical performance program at The Juilliard School. He has led Juilliard students in acclaimed performances at Alice Tully Hall as well as on international tours, including performances as conservatory-in-residence at the Utrecht Festival, regular appearances at Festival Dans les Jardins de William Christie in Thir
é, France, and most recently on an extended tour to India. From 2009 to 2015, he directed the postgraduate Yale Baroque Ensemble at the Yale School of Music, and co-directed the Yale Collegium for many years before that. He taught at Harvard for more than a decade, where he founded the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra. In 2004, he received Early Music America’s Binkley Award for outstanding teaching and scholarship. He still likes to practice.
Beiliang Zhu, Viola da Gamba

Beiliang Zhu won the first prize and the audience award in the violin or Baroque violin category at the 18th International Bach Competition Leipzig (2012), becoming the first string player to have received this honor on a Baroque instrument. Hailed by The New York Times as “particularly exciting,” and by The New Yorker as bringing “telling nuances” and being “elegant and sensual, stylishly wild,” Ms. Zhu seeks artistry in a wide range of repertoire and different roles, performing on modern cello, baroque cello, and viola da gamba. She has given solo recitals at an array of festivals, including the Leipzig Bach Festival, Boston Early Music Festival, International Bach Festival Seoul, and The Helicon Foundation. She also has performed with internationally acclaimed artists and ensembles. Ms. Zhu received a master’s degree from The Juilliard School in historical performance, studying with Phoebe Carrai and Sarah Cunningham, and a bachelor’s degree and a performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music. She is currently pursuing a doctorate, advised by Steven Doane, in performance and a master’s degree in ethnomusicology at the Eastman School of Music. Fascinated by the study of cultures, Ms. Zhu believes firmly in the communicative qualities of musical performances, and therefore invites the listeners to converse with her through various means. 

Avi Stein, Organ and Harpsichord

Avi Stein is the artistic director of The Helicon Foundation, and is the associate organist and choirmaster at Trinity Church Wall Street. He teaches continuo accompaniment, vocal repertoire, and chamber music at The Juilliard School. Mr. Stein performed on the 2015 Grammy-winning recording by the Boston Early Music Festival of Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s La descente d’Orphée aux enfers and La couronne de fleurs. The New York Times described Mr. Stein as “a brilliant organ soloist” in his Carnegie Hall debut, and he was featured recently in Early Music America in an article on the new generation of leaders in the field. He has directed the young artists’ program at the Carmel Bach Festival and has conducted a variety of ensembles, including the Opéra Français de New York, the Amherst Early Music Festival opera, and the critically acclaimed 4x4 Festival. Mr. Stein studied at Indiana University, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Southern California, and was a Fulbright scholar in Toulouse.

Charles Weaver, Theorbo and Guitar

Charles Weaver is on the faculty of The Juilliard School, where he teaches historically informed performance on plucked instruments. He was music director for Cavalli’s La Calisto with New York’s dell’Arte Opera Ensemble in the summer of 2017. He has served as assistant conductor for Juilliard Opera, and accompanied operas with the Yale Baroque Opera Project and the Boston Early Music Festival. An active chamber musician, he has appeared with Quicksilver, Piffaro, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Folger Consort, Apollo’s Fire, Blue Heron Renaissance Choir, and Musica Pacifica. He also works with the New York Continuo Collective, an ensemble of players and singers exploring 17th-century vocal music in workshop productions. He has taught at the Lute Society of America Summer Workshop and the Madison Early Music Festival. This summer he will join the faculty of the International Baroque Institute at Longy. He is associate director of music at St. Mary’s Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, where he specializes in Renaissance polyphony and Gregorian chant.

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