Two-time Grammy Award winning clarinetist Richard Stoltzman’s virtuosity, technique, imagination, and communicative power have revolutionized the world of clarinet playing, opening up possibilities for the instrument that no one could have predicted. He was responsible for bringing the clarinet to the forefront as a solo instrument, and is still the world’s foremost clarinetist.
Stoltzman gave the first clarinet recitals in the histories of both the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall, and, in 1986, became the first wind player to be awarded the Avery Fisher Prize. As one of today’s most sought-after artists, Stoltzman has been a soloist with more than a hundred orchestras as well as a recitalist and chamber music performer, innovative jazz artist, and prolific recording artist. A two-time Grammy Award winner, he has amazed critics and audiences alike in repertory spanning many musical genres.
Stoltzman’s talents as a jazz performer as well as a classical artist have been heard far beyond his annual tours. He has performed and recorded with such classical, jazz, and pop greats as Emmanual Az, Yo-Yo Ma, Gary Burton, the Canadian Brass, Chick Corea, Judy Collins, Eddie Gomez, Keith Jarrett, the King’s Singers, George Shearing, Wayne Shorter, Mel Tormé, and Spyro Gyra founder Jeremy Wall. Stoltzman frequently performs with his son Peter John Stoltzman, a talented classical and jazz pianist and composer.
Stoltzman graduated from Ohio State University with a double major in music and mathematics. He earned his Master of Music degree at Yale University while studying with Keith Wilson, and later studied with Kalmen Opperman at Columbia University. He makes his home in Massachusetts and is a passionate Boston Red Sox fan. He is also a Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef whose specialty is the Linzer Torte.
Hailed for her “sensitive, flexible, and tempestuous dexterity,” (Fanfare Magazine) pianist Michelle Schumann has built a reputation for evocative and moving performances that are infused with unique energy and zeal. Winner of the 2006 Janice K. Hodges Competition for Contemporary Music, Schumann’s programs feature meticulously integrated selections of classic and contemporary repertoire producing performances that are “smart, irresistible, and utterly captivating.” (Austin-American Statesman) Recent international performances have taken her to the City de la Musique-Paris, Conservatoire de Gabriel Faure, and Conservatoire de Maurice Ravel in France; Birmingham Conservatory and St. Mary’s Cathedral-Haxby in England; the Roxy Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland; and the Salzburger Dom Cathedral and Konzervatorium Wien in Austria.
Michelle’s most irresistible qualities as a performer include her unabashed musical expression and her ability to connect with audiences. Her performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue conducted by Peter Bay of the Austin Symphony was named the #1 Classical Arts Event of 2008 by the Austin Chronicle. Additional accolades include the 2009 award for “Best Instrumentalist” and the 2006, 2007, and 2008 award for “Best Chamber Music Performance” given by the Austin Critics’ Table. While deeply steeped in the creative-cultural community of her hometown, Michelle has also been a featured performer at international festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Ottawa Chamberfest, Ethos Contemporary Music Festival, San Angelo Piano Festival, Fayetteville Chamber Music Festival, International Festival Institute at Round Top, Long Beach Opera Festival, Bang-on-a-Can Summer Festival at the Massachusetts Museum of Modern Art, Banff Festival of Music and Sound, Snake River Chamber Music Festival, Victoria Bach Festival, Victoria International Festival, and Tanglewood.
Praised for her versatility, Schumann has helped to lead an eclectic array of projects demonstrating her commitment to unexpected creativity in collaboration. Project highlights include designing and performing the music for Ballet Austin’s “Truth and Beauty: The Bach Project” which featured solo piano music by J.S. Bach and Philip Glass and was later aired on the lauded PBS-KLRU program, “IN CONTEXT.” In addition to performing the solo piano program, Schumann also led a baroque ensemble from the harpsichord for Bach’s Orchestral Suite No.2. In 2010, Schumann served as music director, conductor, and pianist for Michael Nyman’s chamber opera The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, in a collaboration with Austin Lyric Opera during the Austin Chamber Music Festival. In 2006 and 2008, Michelle’s pianism took to the dramatic stage in a staged production of Schubert’s Die Winterreise, directed by the Viennese Maverick producer Andreas Mitisek of the Long Beach Opera. Michelle has also been an enthusiastic proponent of the music of John Cage and has developed a cult-like following for her annual “Happy Birthday, Mr. Cage!” concert which she has been producing, performing, and directing since 2000. Highlights of the series includes a collaboration with film-collage artist Luke Savisky in an acclaimed rendering of Cage’s “Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano;” and a co-production with the Austin Zen Center of Cage’s most meditative music, set for an encore presentation at the Brooklyn Zen Center in 2011.
Since 2006, Michelle has served as Artistic Director of the Austin Chamber Music Center where she “is fearlessly expanding our definition of chamber music.” (Austin-American Statesman) Following her ground-breaking first season with the Austin Chamber Music Center, she won multiple awards from the Austin Critics Table including the coveted award for “ Body of Work/Season.” Praised for “her whip-smart sense of programming,” (Austin-American Statesman) Schumann’s specialty is developing unexpectedly integrated and thought-provoking programs. Her brand of performance includes an enthusiastic interplay with the audience where she shares surprising insights about the music, composers’ lifestyles, and the social context of music performed. Her trademark includes bringing diverse music together under a blanket of narrative cohesion-producing not simply concerts, but events. Michelle has enjoyed performing these concerts with some of the finest musicians gracing the world’s stages, including violinists Soovin Kim, Charles Wetherbee, and Brian Lewis; cellists Clancy Newman and Sara Sant’Ambrogio; and string quartets including the Jupiter, Cavani, Carpe Diem and Chiara String Quartet. Michelle’s other collaborations include the Meridian Arts Ensemble, American Repertory Ensemble, American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, the Austin Symphony Orchestra, and Long Beach Opera.