Maria João Pires

Maria João Pires (born in Lisbon, Portugal, 23 July 1944) is a Portuguese pianist.
Her first recital was at the age of five, and at the age of seven she was already playing Mozart piano concertos publicly. Two years later she received Portugal's top prize for young musicians. In the following years, she studied with Campos Coelho at the Lisbon Conservatory, taking courses in composition, theory, and history of music. She continued her studies in Germany, first in the Musikakademie of Munich with Rosl Schmidt and then in Hanover with Karl Engel.
International fame came in 1970, when she won the Beethoven Bicentennial Competition in Brussels. Subsequently she performed with major orchestras in Europe, America, Canada, Israel and Japan, interpreting works by Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert, Mozart, Brahms, Chopin and other classical and romantic composers.
Her professionalism achieved worldwide recognition when a film (from 1999) was drawn to the attention of the press and went viral in 2013 - at the start of a lunchtime concert in Amsterdam she realised she had rehearsed for a different Mozart concerto from the one the orchestra had started playing; quickly recovering, she played the concerto from memory.
Pires performed at the BBC Proms in 2010. In an interview beforehand she said that after 60 years of recitals and concerts she had cut back her performances but was non-committal about retirement.
Pires performs as a solo artist and in chamber music: her many successful recordings include Moonlight, featuring Beethoven sonatas, Le Voyage Magnifique, the complete Impromptus of Schubert, Nocturnes and other works by Chopin, and Mozart Trios with Augustin Dumay (violin) and Jian Wang (cello).
She won the Pessoa Prize in 1989, and founded the Belgais Centre for Study of the Arts in 1999.
Gramophone selected her recordings of the Chopin nocturnes as the best version available: "I have no hesitation in declaring Maria João Pires – a pianist without a trace of narcissism – among the most eloquent master-musicians of our time" (Bryce Morrison).
One of her acclaimed recordings is "Mozart: The Piano Sonatas". According to the Penguin Guide: "Maria João Pires is a stylist and a fine Mozartian. She is always refined yet never wanting in classical feeling, and she has a vital imagination. She strikes an ideal balance between poise and expressive sensibility, conveying a sense of spontaneity in everything she does".

Elisabeth Leonskaja

Elisabeth Leonskaja (b. November 23, 1945) is a distinguished Russian pianist and teacher. She was born to a Russian family living in Tbilisi, then the capital of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.
She gave her first concert at the age of eleven. In 1964 she began studies in the Moscow Conservatory. During her conservatory years she won prizes in the prestigious Enescu, Marguerite Long–Jacques Thibaud and Queen Elizabeth international piano competitions in Bucharest, Paris and Brussels.
She left the Soviet Union in 1978 and has since then lived in Vienna. A notable recording of hers is of Edvard Grieg's piano transcriptions of Mozart's piano sonatas K. 545 and K. 533/494, accompanied by Sviatoslav Richter, with whom she built a close friendship and collaboration. She recorded many years for Teldec, now for German label MDG and gives many Masterclasses.

Sir Simon Rattle

Sir Simon Denis Rattle, OM CBE (born 19 January 1955), is an English conductor. He rose to international prominence during the 1980s and 1990s, while Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (1980-1998). He has been principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002, and plans to leave his position at the end of his current contract, in 2018. It was announced in March 2015 that Rattle would become Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra from September 2017.
Rattle was born in Liverpool, the son of Pauline Lila Violet (Greening) and Denis Guttridge Rattle, a Commander in the Royal Navy. He was educated at Liverpool College. Although Rattle studied piano and violin, his early work with orchestras was as a percussionist. He entered the Royal Academy of Music, University of London, in 1971. There, his teachers included John Carewe. In 1974, his graduation year, Rattle won the John Player International Conducting Competition.
After organising and conducting a performance of Mahler's Second Symphony whilst still at the Academy, he was talent-spotted by the music agent Martin Campbell-White, of Harold Holt Ltd (now Askonas Holt Ltd), who has since managed Rattle's career. He spent the academic year 1980/81 at St Anne's College, Oxford studying English Language and Literature. He had been attracted to the college by the reputation of Dorothy Bednarowska, Fellow and Tutor in English. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of St Anne's in 1991. He was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Music honoris causa of the University of Oxford in 1999.
In 1974, he was made assistant conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. His first Prom at the Royal Albert Hall, conducting the London Sinfonietta, was, according to the BBC Proms Archive web-site, on 9 August 1976. The programme included Harrison Birtwistle's Meridian and Arnold Schoenberg's First Chamber Symphony. In 1977 he became assistant conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
His time with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) from 1980 to 1998 drew him to the attention of critics and the public. In 1980, Simon Rattle became the CBSO's Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser, and in 1990, Music Director. Rattle increased both his profile and that of the orchestra over his tenure. One of his long-term concert projects was the series of concerts of 20th-century music titled "Towards the Millennium". One other major achievement during his time was the move of the CBSO from its former venue, Birmingham Town Hall, to a newly built concert hall, Symphony Hall, in 1991. The BBC commissioned film director Jaine Green to follow him in his final year with the CBSO to make Simon Rattle—Moving On.
Rattle was awarded a CBE in 1987 and made a Knight Bachelor in 1994. In 1992, Rattle was named a Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE), along with Frans Brüggen. Rattle now has the title of Principal Artist with the OAE. In 2001, he conducted the OAE at Glyndebourne in their first production of Fidelio with a period-instrument orchestra.
Rattle strongly supported youth music. He led two attempts at gaining the record for the World's Largest Orchestra, both designed to raise awareness of youth music in schools. The first, in 1996, was unsuccessful. The second, in 1998, did succeed and the record held at nearly 4,000 musicians until it was broken in 2000 by a group in Vancouver.
In May 2006 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Arts. In 2011, the Royal Academy of Music presented him with an Honorary Doctorate. He was appointed Member of the Order of Merit (OM) in the 2014 New Year Honours.
Rattle conducted the London Symphony Orchestra at the Opening of the London Olympics 2012.
Rattle made his conducting debut with the Berlin Philharmonic (BPO) in 1987, in a performance of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 6. In 1999, Rattle was appointed as successor to Claudio Abbado as the orchestra's principal conductor. The appointment, decided on in a 23 June vote by the orchestra's members, was somewhat controversial, as several members of the orchestra were earlier reported to have preferred Daniel Barenboim for the post. Nevertheless, Rattle won the post and proceeded to win over his detractors by refusing to sign the contract until he had ensured that every member of the orchestra was paid fairly, and also that the orchestra would gain artistic independence from the Berlin Senate.
Before leaving for Germany and on his arrival, Rattle controversially attacked the British attitude to culture in general, and in particular the artists of the Britart movement, together with the state funding of culture in the UK.
Since his appointment, Rattle has reorganised the Berlin Philharmonic into a foundation, meaning its activities are more under the control of the members rather than politicians. He has also ensured that orchestra members' wages have increased quite dramatically, after falling over the previous few years. He gave his first concert as principal conductor of the BPO on 7 September 2002, leading performances of Thomas Adès' Asyla and Mahler's Symphony No. 5, performances which received rave reviews from the press worldwide and were recorded for CD and DVD release by EMI. Early collaborative projects in the Berlin community with Rattle and the BPO involved a choreographed performance of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring and a film project with Mark-Anthony Turnage's Blood on the Floor. He has also continued to champion contemporary music in Berlin. The orchestra has established its first education department during Rattle's tenure.
Criticism of Rattle's tenure with the Berlin Philharmonic began to appear after their first season together, and continued in their second season. Rattle himself stated in 2005 that his relationship with the BPO musicians could sometimes be "turbulent", but also "never destructively so".
In 2006, a new controversy began in the German press as to the quality of Rattle's concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic, with criticism from the German critic Manuel Brug in Die Welt. One musician who wrote to the press to defend Rattle was the pianist Alfred Brendel. In 2007, the BPO/Rattle recording of Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem received the Classic FM Gramophone best choral disc award.
Rattle was originally contracted to lead the BPO through 2012, but in April 2008 the BPO musicians voted to extend his contract as chief conductor for an additional ten years past the next season, to 2018. In January 2013, he announced that he will not extend his contract beyond the 2018 season.
UNICEF appointed Rattle and the BPO as Goodwill Ambassadors in November 2007. He is a patron of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Rattle made his North American debut in 1976, conducting the London Schools Symphony Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl. He first conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil) in 1979 during the music directorship of Carlo Maria Giulini, and was their Principal Guest Conductor from 1981–1994. He also guest-conducted the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. His New York City debut was with the LA Phil in 1985.
In 2000, Rattle was the Music Director of the esteemed Ojai Music Festival.
In 1993, Rattle made his conducting debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He returned for guest conducting engagements in 1999 and 2000. The musical relationship between Rattle and the Philadelphia Orchestra was reported to be such that Philadelphia wanted to hire Rattle as its next music director after Wolfgang Sawallisch, but Rattle declined. However, Rattle continues to guest-conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra, including appearances in 2006 and the Philadelphia Orchestra's first performances of Robert Schumann's cantata Das Paradies und die Peri in November 2007.
It was revealed and confirmed in March 2015 that Rattle had accepted the post of Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), a position which he will take up in September 2017.
Rattle has conducted a wide variety of music, including some with period instruments (either modern musical instruments whose design is similar to that of instruments commonly in use at the time the piece was composed or the actual historical instrument itself), but he is best known for his interpretations of late 19th- and early 20th-century composers such as Gustav Mahler, with a recording of Mahler's Second Symphony winning several awards on its release and being regarded by some music critics as Rattle's finest recording to date. He has also championed much contemporary music, an example of this being the 1996 TV series Leaving Home, where he presents a 7-part survey of musical styles and conductors with excerpts recorded by the CBSO.
His newest recordings with the Berlin Orchestra (as of 2006) have, on the whole, been favourably received, notably his recordings of the Dvořák tone poems, Mahler's Symphony No. 9 and Claude Debussy's La Mer. The Gramophone Magazine praised the latter as a "magnificent disc" and drew favourable comparisons with interpretations of the piece by Rattle's immediate predecessors, Claudio Abbado and Herbert von Karajan. He has also worked with the Toronto Children's Chorus. Rattle and the BPO also recorded Gustav Holst's The Planets (EMI), which was the BBC Music Magazine Orchestra Choice. In addition, Rattle's acclaimed complete 1989 recording of George Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess was used as the soundtrack for the equally acclaimed 1993 television production of the work. It was the first made-for-television production of Porgy and Bess ever presented. Rattle's 2007 recording of Johannes Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem received praise from BBC Music Magazine, as "Disc of the Month" for April 2007, "as probably the best new version of the Requiem I've heard in quite some years." Rattle and the BPO have also released recordings of Anton Bruckner's Fourth Symphony (Romantic), and Joseph Haydn's Symphonies Nos. 88, 89, 90, 91, 92 and Sinfonia Concertante.
Rattle's recording of Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem with the BPO received the Choral Performance Grammy Award in 2008. He has won two other Grammy Awards, one Choral Performance Award for a recording of Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms in 2007, and another for Best Orchestral Performance for a recording of Mahler's unfinished Symphony No. 10 in 2000. The government of France made him a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 2010.
He was voted into the inaugural Gramophone Hall of Fame in 2012.
Rattle's first marriage was to Elise Ross, an American soprano, with whom he had two sons: Sacha, who is a clarinettist, and Eliot, who is a painter. They were divorced in 1995 after 15 years of marriage. In 1996 he married his second wife, Candace Allen, a Boston-born writer. This second marriage ended in 2004, and in 2008 Rattle married the Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená. The couple have two sons, Jonas (2005) and Milos (2008), and a daughter Anežka (June 2014).
Rattle is a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians and a fan of Liverpool Football Club.     

Kristjan Järvi

Kristjan Järvi (born 13 June 1972, Tallinn) is an Estonian-born American conductor. Järvi is the younger son of Neeme Järvi, and the brother of conductor Paavo Järvi and flutist Maarika Järvi.
When Järvi was age 7, his family emigrated to the United States and settled in Rumson, New Jersey. He grew up in New York City. Järvi studied piano with Nina Svetlanova at the Manhattan School of Music. He later went on to study conducting at the University of Michigan under Kenneth Kiesler.
From 1998 to 2000, Järvi was Assistant Conductor to Esa-Pekka Salonen at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He and the composer Gene Pritsker co-founded the Absolute Ensemble, based in New York City, in 1993, with Järvi as its music director. In 2007, Järvi and the Absolute Ensemble were awarded the Deutsche Bank Prize for Outstanding Artistic Achievement.
Järvi was Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Norrlands Opera Symphony Orchestra of Umeå in Sweden from 2000 to 2004. From 2004 to 2009, Järvi was Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Tonkünstler Orchestra, Vienna. Järvi is also the current Artistic Advisor to the Kammerorchester Basel and the conductor and founder of the Baltic Youth Philharmonic. In April 2011, Järvi was appointed the next chief conductor of the MDR Symphony Orchestra (MDR Sinfonieorchester) from the 2012-13 season on, with an initial contract of 3 years. Järvi renewed his contract in 2015.
In addition to a Grammy nomination, Järvi has previously been awarded the German Record Critics Prize and a Swedish Grammy for the recording of Hilding Rosenberg's opera "Isle of Bliss". He has recorded Leonard Bernstein's Mass with the Tonkünstler Orchestra and Absolute Ensemble. While Järvi's repertoire includes pieces from the Classic and Romantic periods, he is also a specialist for 20th-century composers and contemporary music, having commissioned works by Arvo Pärt, Heinz Karl Gruber, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Ezequiel Viñao, Peeter Vähi and Joe Zawinul, among others. In 2014 Järvi and French record label Naïve Classique launched the 'Kristjan Järvi Sound Project', an ongoing series featuring recordings from all of Järvi's ensembles.
Järvi's philanthropic activities include founding the Estonian Orphanage Music Outreach foundation and the Absolute Academy in Bremen.

Sarah Chang

Sarah Chang (born Young Joo Chang, on December 10, 1980) is an American classical violinist. Recognized as a child prodigy, she first played as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1989. She enrolled at Juilliard School to study music, graduated in 1999, and continued university studies. Especially during the 1990s and 2000s, Chang had major roles as a soloist with many of the world's major orchestras.
Chang was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and raised in Voorhees Township, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Myoung-Jun, a composer, and Min-Soo Chang, who was a violinist and music teacher. Chang's parents moved to the United States from South Korea in 1979 for her father's advanced music degree at Temple University. Her mother took composition classes at the University of Pennsylvania. Chang has said that although she "never actually lived in Korea... I do still feel very strongly it's where my roots are." Her younger brother Michael (born 1987) has a degree from Princeton University.
In 1986, when Chang was 5 years old, she auditioned for and was accepted to the Juilliard School by performing the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor. Chang spent her weekends attending music classes at Juilliard and shopping in New York City with her parents. In 1989, she began working with Dorothy DeLay at her studio in New York where her father had received his musical lessons, and at the Aspen Music Festival and School. A former student and assistant to DeLay, Hyo Kang, also provided training to Chang. Following her 1999 high school graduation in New Jersey, she returned to Juilliard for university and studied with DeLay.
Chang learned from a family environment to naturally speak Korean. She is also fluent in German.
Due to her musical accomplishments, Chang is among a very small number of professional figures recognized as a child prodigy.
Her mother trained her to play one-finger melodies on the piano at age 3. For her fourth birthday, she was given a 1/16-sized violin. At age 8, she auditioned alongside Zubin Mehta and Riccardo Muti, who worked with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Both granted her immediate engagements.
In 1991, when Chang was 10 years old, she recorded her first album, Debut; it was released by EMI Classics on August 18, 1992 and quickly reached the Billboard chart of classical best-sellers. Chang quickly rose to fame and became known on an international scale, performing up to 150 concerts a year. At the age of 17, she asked for a three-month break; this opportunity did not come until she turned 20 years old. In 2006, Newsweek ranked her as one of the Top Eight Achieving Females in the United States. In the interview accompanying the feature, she commented: "I think having a career at such an early age kept me focused. We schedule at least two to three years in advance in the classical industry. I felt so grounded and so grateful to already know what it was that I wanted to do with my life."
In 2002, she performed in Pyongyang, North Korea. Chang commented: "The concert was full of government officials. Every single last seat. It was invitation only, but it was an unbelievable experience. Frightening and exhilarating at the same time. And I just thought about how lucky I am. I am so fortunate to be a musician, and at that moment, I genuinely felt that music is the one and only universal language."
Chang took part in watchmaker Movado's global advertising campaign "The Art of Time" with Pete Sampras and composer Wynton Marsalis. For the 2004 Olympics, she was selected to carry the Olympic Torch in New York. In 2005, Yale University dedicated a chair in Sprague Hall in Chang's name. Following this, Chang toured for a year with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in a Sextet programme of summer festivals leading to a concert at the Berlin Philharmonie.
Chang played a recital at Carnegie Hall on April 7 2007, accompanied by the British pianist Ashley Wass. She has continued to perform with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen and make appearances with the former at both the Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Concert Hall throughout 2008. On March 27 and 28 2008 she played for San Antonio, Texas audiences at the Majestic Theater, a performance which was preceded by an appearance (to meet and inspire young as well as seasoned musicians at no charge) at Antonio Strad Violin in the same city. From May 2009 to June 2010, she held recital tours across Europe, North America and Asia with pianist Andrew von Oeyen; a July 2010 recording of the two was eventually released. In the February 12, 2010 program, she held her recital at the Barbican Hall in London. Chang made an appearance at the University of Southern California in March 2010, where she played Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26. She performed at the Hollywood Bowl in August 2010.
Chang plays the 1717 Guarneri del Gesù violin, which she received through the late Isaac Stern, and uses a variety of bows: she has said that she prefers a Pajeot for Mozart and Bach; a Sartory for the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius concertos; and two Dominique Peccattes for other music.
Chang has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Montréal Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, orchestras in London, England, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Additionally, she has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the NHK Symphony Orchestra of Tokyo, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra, the Washington National Symphony Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre National de France, the Honolulu Symphony, and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra amongst others.
Chang has also been a soloist under the baton of conductors Mariss Jansons, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Colin Davis, Charles Dutoit, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, André Previn, Sir Simon Rattle, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Leonard Slatkin, Michael Tilson Thomas, Plácido Domingo, David Lockington, David Zinman, Gustavo Dudamel, Valery Gergiev, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jaap van Zweden, John Williams and others.
Notable recital engagements have included her Carnegie Hall debut and performances at the Kennedy Center, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Hall, Barbican Centre, Philharmonie, and Concertgebouw.
As a chamber musician, Chang has collaborated with Pinchas Zukerman, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yefim Bronfman, Martha Argerich, Leif Ove Andsnes, Stephen Kovacevich, Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, Lars Vogt, and the late Isaac Stern. She has made several chamber recordings with current and former members of the Berlin Philharmonic, including the Sextet and Piano Quintet of Dvořák and the Souvenir de Florence of Tchaikovsky.
In January 2011, Sarah Chang was interviewed by Evan Solomon of Power & Politics (CBC) where it was revealed that she had been appointed by President Obama to the Presidential Commission on Russian Relations, and also was taking on a new role as State Department Special Cultural Envoy. Chang has already been promoting and supporting childhood musical education for many years. She has also been a cultural ambassador for the U.S.; for instance, she was invited to play in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, with a South Korean orchestra in 2002.