Baby Got Bach: String ‘Stravaganza

Event Info

Back by popular demand, pianist and host Orli Shaham will introduce pre-school-aged kids to the joy of live classical music. She will be joined by special guest artists the Rolston String Quartet, First Prize winners of the prestigious Banff International String Quartet Competition in 2016, in a program that highlights chamber music for string instruments with piano. Recommended for ages 3-6.

About the Artist:

A consummate musician recognized for her grace, subtlety and brilliance, Orli Shaham has established an impressive international reputation as one of today's most gifted pianists. Hailed by critics on four continents, Ms. Shaham is in demand for her prodigious skills and admired for her interpretations of both standard and modern repertoire. The New York Times called her a "brilliant pianist," The Chicago Tribune recently referred to her as “a first-rate Mozartean” in a performance with the Chicago Symphony, and London's Guardian said Ms. Shaham's playing at the Proms was "perfection."

Orli Shaham has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego and Utah symphony orchestras; and internationally with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Bilbao Symphony, Filarmonica della Scala, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic, Orchestra della Toscana, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National de Lyon, Stockholm Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and the Taiwan Philharmonic. A frequent guest at summer festivals, she has performed at Amelia Island, Aspen, Bravo Vail, Caramoor, La Jolla, Mostly Mozart, Music Academy of the West, Orcas Island, Peninsula, Ravinia, Spoleto, Sun Valley, Tanglewood, and Verbier music festivals.

Ms. Shaham has given recitals in North America, Europe and Asia at such renowned concert halls as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Chicago's Symphony Hall, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Frankfurt's Alte Oper, and the Herkulessaal in Munich, and has worked with many eminent conductors including Sir Neville Marriner, Sir Roger Norrington, Christopher Hogwood, David Robertson, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Leonard Slatkin, Robert Spano, Gerard Schwarz, Nicholas McGegan, Hans Graf and Jacques Lacombe among others. In performance she has collaborated with the pianists Emanuel Ax, Joseph Kalichstein, Jon Kimura Parker and Marc-Andre Hamelin, the cellist Lynn Harrell, the violinists Gil Shaham (her brother) and Phillip Setzer, and the sopranos Christine Brewer and Michelle DeYoung, among many others.

Concerto highlights of the 2016-2017 season include a performance of Beethoven's Concerto No. 4 at Carnegie Hall, play-conduct Mozart's Concerto K. 491 with the Sydney Symphony, and concerts with the St. Louis Symphony (Cristian Macelaru conducting), Aspen Chamber Symphony (David Robertson conducting), Pacific Symphony (Carl St. Clair conducting) and Grand Rapids Symphony (Michael Christie conducting), among others. Ms. Shaham continues to serve as the Artistic Director for Pacific Symphony’s chamber music series in Costa Mesa, California, a position she has held since 2007. She is a featured performer on each of the chamber recitals in the series.

Chamber music and recital highlights of the 2016-2017 include the world premiere of the complete John's Book of Alleged Dances by John Adams in a transcription for prepared piano and string quartet by Simon Frisch commissioned by Ms. Shaham; a recital with the pianists Jon Kimura Parker, Orion Weiss and Shai Wosner in Great Barrington, Mass, Brahms' Piano Quintet in f minor in Indianapolis with principal players of the Indianapolis Symphony, and a recital in Sydney, Australia presented by the Sydney Symphony.

Ms. Shaham’s acclaimed 2015 recording, Brahms Inspired, is a 2-CD set of new works by Brett Dean, Avner Dorman, and Bruce Adolphe alongside works of Brahms and his compositional forefathers. The New York Times praised Ms. Shaham's "beautiful performances" on the recording, calling it "a treasurable album." The St. Louis Post-Dispatch stated that the album "takes the listener on an intellectual as well as a musical journey" and cited Ms. Shaham's "musical intelligence and integrity."

In addition to Brahms Inspired, Ms. Shaham's 2015 recordings also include her performance of John Adams' Grand Pianola Music with the pianist Marc-André Hamelin and the San Francisco Symphony, with the composer conducting, featured on the SFSO album Absolute Jest. Arts Desk’s Graham Rickson raves,”Pianists Orli Shaham and Marc-André Hamelin dazzle…” In 2014, Orli Shaham released American Grace, a CD of piano music by John Adams and Steven Mackey featuring the recorded premiere of Mackey’s Stumble to Grace (written especially for Ms. Shaham) with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, David Robertson conducting. Brian Wigman of praised the album as having “nuance to the playing, and a sense of grace and poetry.” Composer John Adams himself wrote of Ms. Shaham’s collaboration with Jon Kimura (Jackie) Parker on his two-piano work Hallelujah Junction, “any composer should be so lucky to receive such a reading as Orli and Jackie have done,” and the French magazine Pianiste praised the CD, saying "this album could well propel [Shaham] to the forefront of the world stage." The previous year, Ms. Shaham released the CD Nigunim - Hebrew Melodies, recorded with her brother, the violinist Gil Shaham. The album features showpieces by Ernest Bloch, Joseph Achron, and Leo Zeitlin as well as a newly commissioned work by Avner Dorman. She and Gil have collaborated on several additional recordings including Dvorák for Two on Deutsche Gramophone, an all-Prokofiev disc ("As fine a recording of the violin and piano music of Prokofiev as has ever been made by one of the finest violinist and pianist teams of the last ten years." Barnes&, and Mozart in Paris featuring Mozart’s Six Sonatas, Op. 1.

Recent concert highlights include performances with the Orchestre National de France, the San Francisco Symphony and the St. Louis Symphony, along with appearances at the Aspen Music Festival, Arizona Musicfest, and the “Chicago Symphony Presents” series, as well as Ms. Shaham’s performances of Steve Mackey’s piano concerto Stumble to Grace with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (performed by Ms. Shaham in the same program with Bernstein's Age of Anxiety), and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Australia, in addition to solo recitals in New York City, Washington D.C., and Omaha. Of Ms. Shaham’s 2014 performance of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto with the Winston-Salem Symphony, Classical Voice of North Carolina wrote, “it was clear that Shaham is a powerful player and her interaction with the orchestra was first-rate.”

Orli Shaham’s interactive concert series for young children, Baby Got Bach, is recognized by parents, media and the music community as a significant force in music education and entertainment for pre-schoolers. The wildly popular series is included in New York Magazine's "Best of New York" list, and has been cited as "magical" and "a terrific family event" in the press. The concert programs provide hands-on activities with musical instruments, concepts and concert performances that promote good listening skills, and feature chamber music performances by professional musicians with Ms. Shaham as host and pianist. Baby Got Bach is presented by the 92nd Street Y in New York, and has been presented by the Aspen Music Festival and in St. Louis. Following the collaboration with Sō Percussion in 2016, Baby Got Bach will return to Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University in the 2016/17 season with special guest performers.

In addition to her activities on stage, Ms. Shaham gives frequent master classes and has served on the jury of numerous piano competitions, including the Cliburn International Junior, New York International, Sydney International, and Virginia Waring International piano competitions. In 2015 she was named to the board of trustees of the Kaufman Music Center in New York.

Driven by a passion to bring classical music to new audiences, Ms. Shaham has maintained an active parallel career as a respected broadcaster, music writer and lecturer. In 2012 and 2013 she served as the host of America’s Music Festivals, a radio program nationally broadcast to over 100 stations. From 2005-2008 she was host of "Dial-a-Musician," a feature she created especially for The Classical Public Radio Network. The concept of the program was to enhance listeners' experiences of music and musicians by directing listeners' questions about classical music to internationally renowned musicians, calling them on the phone to discuss the topic. Ms. Shaham has taught music literature at Columbia University, and contributed articles to Piano Today, Symphony and Playbill magazines and NPR’s Deceptive Cadence blog, and was artist in residence on National Public Radio’s Performance Today.

Orli Shaham was recognized early for her exceptional talents. She received her first scholarship for musical study from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation at age five to study with Luisa Yoffe at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. By age seven, she traveled to New York with her family to begin study with Nancy Stessin, and became a scholarship student of Herbert Stessin at The Juilliard School a year later. She won the Gilmore Young Artist Award and the Avery Fisher Career Grant, two prestigious prizes given to further the development of outstanding talent. In addition to her musical education at the Juilliard School, Orli Shaham holds a bachelor's degree in history from Columbia University and pursued a master's degree in musicology from Columbia. Orli Shaham lives in New York and St. Louis with her husband, conductor David Robertson, stepsons Peter and Jonathan, and twin sons Nathan and Alex.


First Prize winner of the prestigious 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition, the Rolston String Quartet has become Canada's newest ensemble attracting attention on the international stage.  As Germany's Südwest Press stated of theirrecent performance, "an impressive, deeply serious interpretation...highly sensitive, delicately transparent. A musical sound treasure, blissful."

This 16.17 season, the quartet immediately embarks on their Banff Competition winner's tour, taking them to Germany, Italy, and Austria. This summer continues their presence at festivals in Canada and the United States. Next season will see the quartet perform in Europe, Israel, United States, and Canada. Other highlights for the Rolston String Quartet include performances in such venues as the Smithsonian, Kennedy Center, Harris Hall, Koerner Hall, and the Auditorium de Bordeaux. Notable collaborations include performances with renowned artists Andrés Díaz, Gil Kalish, Mark Morris, Donald Palma, Jon Kimura Parker, and Miguel da Silva. Additionally, they have worked closely with composers John Luther Adams and Brian Current.

As prizewinners, the Rolston String Quartet has also won First Prize at the 31st Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition, Third Prize at the inaugural M-Prize Competition, and the Durosoir Prize at the 2016 Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition.

Currently the Graduate Quartet-in-Residence at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music in Houston, the quartet has participated in residencies and fellowships at the Académie musicale de Villecroze, Aspen Music Festival, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, McGill International String Quartet Academy, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Robert Mann String Quartet Institute, St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar, and the Yehudi Menuhin Chamber Music Festival. Mentored primarily by James Dunham, Norman Fischer, and Kenneth Goldsmith, they have received additional guidance from Steven Dann, Paul Kantor, Barry Shiffman, Miguel da Silva, Mark Steinberg, and Alastair Tait.

The Rolston String Quartet was formed in the summer of 2013 at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s Chamber Music Residency. They take their name after the Canadian violinist Thomas Rolston, founder and long-time director of the Music and Sound Programs at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. They were the only ensemble to be featured on CBC's 2016 list of hot Canadian classical musicians under 30.