January 2012 Program Download – PDF
Benjamin Breen – Artistic Director, Violin
Australian born violinist Benjamin Breen – recognized for his “exceptional purity of tone” and “beguiling sensitivity” (the Strad) made his New York recital debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. His “intense emotion” and “tone tinged with gold” (Sydney Morning Herald) have led to engagements in Australia, Europe, the United States and Japan, both as soloist with orchestra, in recital, and as chamber musician. Breen has also premiered works dedicated to him by the eminent Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe. In Australia he has made television appearances on ABC-TV and the 9 Network and participated in radio broadcasts on ABC-FM, ABC Radio National, 2MBS-FM & 3MBS-FM. His growing list of U.S. broadcast credits include performances on WNYC, and National Public Radio stations nationwide. Breen began studies at the age of 5 in Sydney. At 11 he entered the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where his teachers were John Harding and Janet Davies. After pursuing musical studies in Germany, he returned to Australia, where he participated in master classes with Valery Klimov, Igor Ozim and Raphael Hillyer. Participation in the Melbourne Summer Music Festival with Pinchas Zukerman led Mr. Breen to continue his studies in New York. At The Juilliard School, Breen studied violin with Stephen Clapp and chamber music with Samuel Sanders and Paul Doktor. He subsequently continued violin studies with violinist Harry Shub in New York, whose pedagogy influenced him greatly. As chamber musician he has appeared at the Aspen and Next Generation and Telluride music festivals. Performances with ex-Heifetz pianist Milton Kaye led to the release of Breen’s debut recording of the Brahms Sonatas on the AustralianTall Poppies label available world-wide. Tall Poppies have also released “Cafe Fiddle” to wide critical acclaim. Mr. Breen is the Artistic Director of New York’s Hudson Chamber Society which presents a diverse series of chamber music. His instrument is from 1712 made by Giuseppe Guarneri filius Andrea – the “ex-Boyle” with a bow by Joseph Henry.
Sara Sant’Ambrogio – Cello
Grammy Award winning cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio first caught international attention when she won the Bronze Medal at the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Violoncello Competition in Moscow. As a result of her prize, Miss Sant’Ambrogio was invited to perform a recital for Carnegie Hall, which was filmed by CBS News and televised nationally. Sara has performed at all the great music centers of the world on six continents including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Hollywood Bowl, Kennedy Center, the Forbidden City in China, the Sydney Opera House, the Concertgebouw, Musik Verein and has appeared as soloist with many of the worlds great orchestras including Atlanta, Boston Pops, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle, Budapest and Royal Philharmonic. Always looking to push the boundaries of classical music, Sara has collaborated with the New York City Ballet- in 6 sold out shows at Lincoln Center, inaugurated a new concert series at the National Arts Club in NYC with Rufus Wainwright, recorded with the rock group VAST, Spanish hip hop singer Beatrice, and had her performances featured on music videos, documentary and feature films. Sara began her studies with her father John Sant’Ambrogio; principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony and at the age of 16 was invited to study with David Soyer at the Curtis Institute of Music. 3 years later Leonard Rose invited her on full scholarship to study at The Juilliard School where within weeks she won the Schumann Concerto Competition resulting in the first of many performances at Lincoln Center. While at Juilliard, Miss Sant’Ambrogio founded The Eroica Trio and a few years later they won the Naumburg Competition. The Eroica Trio has recorded extensively for EMI garnering multiple Grammy nominations while touring around the world. Miss Sant’Ambrogio has always enjoyed teaching and has had residencies at many fine music schools including UCLA, San Francisco State, McDuffie Center for Strings, University of Texas-Austin and University of Wisconsin-Madison most recently. Recent highlights are a Grammy nomination for the Eroica Trio’s 8th CD, An American Journey, the release of Bach Suites for Solo Cello Vol.I, which Gramophone Magazine called “a miracle of sound” and said “she comes impressively close to the soul of Bach in a profoundly compassionate paean to the human spirit”, a series of Bach concerts in non traditional venues sponsored by Chimney Rock Winery and a Beethoven cycle in 5 cities with pianist William Ransom.
Gerald Robbins, pianist
Pianist Gerald Robbins has distinguished himself internationally as a soloist, having performed throughout the world in virtually every major music center, including New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Bonn, Munich, Athens, Frankfurt, Belgrade, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, and Tokyo. He has appeared with many major orchestras, including the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and its affiliates, London Mozart Players, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic, and the New York Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra under such conductors as Zubin Mehta, Sir Neville Marriner, Edouard van Remoortel, Harry Blech, Okko Kamu, Jorge Mester, Lawrence Foster, Kenneth Klein, and Louis Frémaux. A champion of neglected romantic repertoire, Gerald Robbins has received critical praise for his solo recordings for the London-Decca, Orion, and Genesis labels. His world premiere recordings of concerti by Litolff and Reinecke, performed in collaboration with the Monte Carlo Opera Orchestra and conducted by Edouard van Remoortel, were successfully rereleased on compact disc for Genesis Records. His other commercial CD recordings include a highly praised solo performance of Dvořák’s Poetic Tone Pictures and Goetz’s Complete Chamber Music for Piano and Strings, all for the Genesis label. Mr. Robbins recorded the Leonard Bernstein and John Corigliano Sonatas for Violin and Piano with violinist Glenn Dicterow for Cala Records and the Mendelssohn complete works for cello and piano with cellist James Kreger for the Koch Discover International label. His newest CD release for 4-Tay records includes a collaboration with conductor Kenneth Klein and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra of the Schumann Piano Concerto, and a rerelease on CD for Genesis of piano works by Sјögren and Kjerulf, as well as a newly released CD of the Strauss and Turina Piano Quartets performed by the Lyric Piano Quartet on the Black Box label. In addition to his solo activities, Robbins has distinguished himself as a chamber musician in collaboration with many noted musicians such as Nathan Milstein, Aaron Rosand, Pinchas Zukerman, Kyung-Wha Chung, Bronislav Gimpel, Zara Nelsova, Joseph Schuster, Ruggiero Ricci, and Glenn Dicterow. A cofounder with Glenn Dicterow of the Lyric Piano Quartet, Mr. Robbins records and tours with this ensemble. He has also appeared as a frequent guest artist with solo members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra as part of its subscription concert series at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, as well as performing with them at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and Merkin Hall in New York City. Mr. Robbins has received many important prizes throughout his career, including a major prize at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and a diploma from the Tchaikovsky International Competition. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Southern California, where he assisted in the string classes with Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky.