On February 20, 2016, William McNally, piano, gave a wonderful performance of Rachmaninoff pieces and Ragtime music.
Pittsburgh native William McNally began his formal piano studies at age seven. Shortly after his ninth birthday, he performed for the first time in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall as a winner of the AMSA World Piano Competition, and has since returned often, including once in Stern Auditorium as principal bassist of the Mt. Lebanon H.S. Orchestra, again in Weill Hall in a solo piano recital as winner of the Artists International competition, and more recently in Zankel Hall as director of two opera-shorts presented by the Remarkable Theatre Brigade. Familiar to audiences around New York, he has also performed in Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, Steinway Hall, Elebash Hall, LeFrak Hall, and other venues.
In 2013, Mr. McNally released a recording of works by Brahms, Reger and Busoni as part of the Victor Elmaleh Collection of piano recitals. Anthoni Tommasini of the New York Times has called his playing “exhilarating” “adventurous,” and “commanding,” and Rob Haskins of the American Record Guide lauds Mr. McNally’s “crystal-clear articulation and phrasing” and his “indefinable enthusiasm.”
A multifaceted musician, Mr. McNally has been widely recognized as a ragtime pianist and composer of numerous ragtime-styled works. He is the first three-time winner the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest’ New Rag Contest (winning it a fourth time as the performer of colleague Vincent Matthew Johnson’s composition …And So Fourth!), and has appeared at ragtime festivals around the country. A CD release (Chickens ‘n’ Kittens: a Ragtime Coup) follows his particular interest in modern and classically trained ragtime composers, including Bolcom and Godowsky. He has presented papers on the transatlantic voyages of ragtime at the Society for American Music 2014 Conference and at the International Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, MO.
In the spring of 2008, Mr. McNally inaugurated the Music4MS concert series, in an effort to raise funds and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis. He produced, directed, performed on, and wrote program notes for the series, which featured some of the brightest rising stars on the classical scene. Since 2011 he has served as Artistic Director of the Music at St. Luke’s concert series in East Hampton, where he has presented such artists as the Verona and Amphion String Quartets, pianists Daria Rabotkina, Inna Faliks, and Gleb Ivanov, TenetNYC and tenor Robert White. Mr. McNally also currently serves as Secretary of the Musicians Club of New York, an organization founded more than a century ago by conductor Walter Damrosch, and sustained by conductor and composer Serge Koussevitsky.
Mr. McNally is a veteran of numerous summer festivals, including Aspen Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, and Mannes’ International Keyboard Institute and Festival. In the summer of 2010, he received a fellowship to attend the Tanglewood Music Center. There, he collaborated on a premiere dance performance with the Mark Morris Dance Company, coached with musicians including Emanuel Ax, Peter Serkin, Dawn Upshaw and Oliver Knussen, and his performance of George Perle’s Concertino for Piano, Winds and Timpani was hailed as a “powerful performance” by the New York Times. Mr. McNally’s affiliation with Pianofest in the Hamptons spanned five seasons, where he served as Dean of Students. The roast chickens he produced there still garner raves.
Mr. McNally studied at the Mannes College of Music, receiving Bachelors and Masters of Music degrees in piano performance. Following Mannes, he received a second Masters degree from Temple University, this time with a double major in piano pedagogy and chamber music. There he studied piano with Harvey Wedeen and collaborative piano with Lambert Orkis. He has performed in the master classes of such artists as Sergei Babayan, Claude Frank, Paul Schenly, Peter Serkin, Arie Vardi and Earl Wild, to name a few.
Recently, Mr. McNally served as Adjunct Professor of Piano and Artist-in-Residence at Temple University and taught at Settlement Music School. In April of 2015 he completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree together with a Doctoral Certificate in American Studies at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center; there he studied with Ursula Oppens. His dissertation, Ragtime Then and Now: Composers and Audiences from the Ragtime Era to the Ragtime Revival, is currently being prepared for publication. He has served on the faculty at Queens College and Baruch College, and also worked at Queens College as a writing fellow.
The Evolution of the Silent Spring Project
Music by Mark Fromm
A Citizen of the 21st Century Looks Back (2009)
Sonata Deus Ex Machina (2006)
I. Deus Ex
e to the x (2013)
Silent Spring (2012)
Trillium Ensemble is Pittsburgh’s only professional chamber music trio with the unique instrumentation of flute, clarinet and piano. Members Elise DePasquale, Rachael Stutzman, and Katie Palumbo are dedicated to performing a wide range of musical styles at the highest artistic level, while maintaining a special passion for recently composed music and collaboration with composers to create new works. Since its inception in 2010, Trillium Ensemble has premiered and commissioned works by composers Fernando Benadon, Christopher Catone, Mark S. Fromm, Federico Garcia, Nathan Hall, Matthew Heap, Scott Steele, and David B. Thomas. In the spring of 2015, American University (D.C.) invited the trio to participate in a residency where they read and performed student compositions, held a masterclass for students performing contemporary chamber works, and performed a concert of which included the music of American University faculty, Heap and Benadon. In Pittsburgh, the ensemble has performed in several of the city’s concert series including Bach, Beethoven and Brunch, Friday Afternoon Musicale Series at Chatham University, and Artful Wednesdays Series at the University of Pittsburgh. Trillium has also participated in the 2014 Pittsburgh Festival of New Music’s Soundpike and often performs live on Pittsburgh’s classical music station, WQED 89.3 FM. Embracing chamber music’s unique ability to intimately engage audiences, Trillium Ensemble seeks out creative ways to connect with its listeners. Performances include discussions about music and invitations for active audience participation. Trillium Ensemble enjoys collaborating with composers, visual artists, and videographers to present contemporary music in fresh and innovative ways. Upcoming projects of this kind include a collaboration titled The Silent Spring Project with composer Mark Fromm, sound engineer Don Maue, and producer Jason Allison, as part of the 2015-2016 season of the New Hazlett Theater’s Community Shared Art (CSA) Performance Series. The Silent Spring Project is an immersive musical experience, surrounding the audience with sound, light, music, and storytelling. Inspired by the writing of Pittsburgh native Rachel Carson and Buckminster Fuller, the Silent Spring Project explores our ideas of environmentalism, sustainability, and humanity’s role in the natural world. As part of their CSA Performance on April 14, 2016, the trio will be releasing their debut CD of Fromm’s five chamber pieces that inspired the Silent Spring Project.
Mark Fromm is a composer, musician, teacher, and artist who is fascinated and inspired by science, nature, astronomy, cosmology, and the unknown: ideas which he strives to bring to life in his work. His best work has come from commissions and the resulting collaboration with performers and conductors, including The Pittsburgh Philharmonic Orchestra, for whom he wrote the tone poem Frick Gates; the Baltimore ensemble Symphony Number One, writing his own Symphony No. 1; Carnegie Mellon University’s incredible Contemporary Music Ensemble, writing his contrabassoon concerto Lingua Cosmica, which, as a bassoon player, was a dream come true; and the Pittsburgh trio Trillium Ensemble, writing Silent Spring, based on ideas from Rachel Carson’s landmark book of the same name. Fromm was born and raised in Pittsburgh and received his BFA in Composition from Carnegie Mellon, studying with Nancy Galbraith, Leonardo Balada, and Efrain Amaya. He then moved to Montreal to earn his master’s degree at McGill University, studying with John Rea, before returning to Pittsburgh and earning his PhD at the University of Pittsburgh, studying with Amy Williams, Mathew Rosenblum, and Eric Moe. He now teaches music theory, composition, solfege, and rock orchestra at the Creative and Performing Arts School for grades 6-12 in downtown Pittsburgh to some of the most creative and motivated young musicians in the area. The 2014-15 school year was a whirlwind of activity with the commissioning, composing, and premiering of his contrabassoon concerto and his first symphony, both longer than any other pieces he had ever written. In 2016 he is looking forward to the performance of an ongoing collaboration with Trillium Ensemble; they are putting together a performance of five of his chamber pieces called The Silent Spring Project, which will be brought to life with live electronics, lighting, projections, and geodesic domes as part of the New Hazlett Theater’s CSA series.
On February 4, 2016, the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh gave a strings only performance. The Chatham Choir joined the Chamber Orchestra for two songs.
Chamber Orchestra Members
Edward Leonard, Conductor
Violin I: Anne Jackovic, Concertmaster; Dawn Posey; Jennifer Madge
Violin II: Rachel White; Sandro Leal-Santiesteban; Carrie Erdely
Viola: J. J. Johnson; Ji Young Nam
Cello: Kathleen Caballero; Freya Samuels
Bass: Amanda Rice-Johnston
Chatham Choir Members
Stacey Conner, Choral Master
Soprano I: Lindsey Bost, Natalie Coyne, Francesca Fello, Mayuko Harada, Michaela Keating, Alexis McKenna, Sarah Weinschenker
Soprano II: Justine Barry, Bethany Bookout, Jodikaye Richards, Elizabeth Romano, Lauren Rosedale, Taylor Yester
Alto: Hannah Gregor, Ivy Kuhrman, Annette McHaddon, Marisa Rosner, Carina Stopenski, Seyeon Yoon
Listen to the Chamber Orchestra and Choir perform Movement II, Psalm 23 by Leonard Bernstein here: https://soundcloud.com/davidsykut/chamber-orchestra-of-pittsburgh-chichester-psalms-movement-ii-psalm-23
On January 23, 2016, the Kassia Ensemble gave an exceptional premier performance.
The Kassia Ensemble is a newly formed chamber group in the city of Pittsburgh. Comprised exclusively of women, its members also hold positions in the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet, the West Virginia Symphony, the Wheeling Symphony, and the Canton Symphony Orchestras.
The members of the Kassia Ensemble came together in an effort to supersede the gender barrier that is prevalent in classical music. The decision was made to form an all-female ensemble in efforts to create an empowering environment of mutual respect and support, which frees women to collaborate and express themselves at the highest levels of musicianship, artistry, and performance. The Kassia Ensemble promotes female entrepreneurship and leadership in the arts, while simultaneously embracing the performers’ unique experiences as women that deepen and expand their own creative output.
Kassia Ensemble offers unique programming, from the classics to contemporary music, highlighting male and female composers from the past and the present. Their flexible instrumentation allows for refreshing variety in performance. A concert experience may include everything from a harp trio to a large mixed instrumentation ensemble, all in one sitting.
As a result of their own life experiences, the members of the Kassia Ensemble feel a sense of responsibility to use their talents to promote social justice and engage in charitable projects that benefit women.
Kassia was a Byzantine abbess, poet, composer, and hymnographer, whose talent and character serve as inspiration for the ensemble.
Mask of the Red Death
Circling the prey she covets, Death, a horrible and fatale specter, haunts the region…In an atmosphere of distress and terror, where death is abrupt and hideous, the appearance of the Mask of the Red Death, whose diabolic grin denounces joy, is pitiless …
To defy the plague, a young prince and his friends celebrate joyously in a fortified abbey, in which the exits have been carefully blocked.
There the Prince entertains his friends with a masked ball of strange magnificence, and his bizarre taste provides more entertainment with the party: What a decadent tableau is this!
However, each time the strange and ominous voice of the grandfather clock strikes the hours, the gaiety of the dancers seems paralyzed.
Hardly have the echoes of the strikes faded, when a nervous laughter circulates among the guests.
The festivities begin again, but this time with less spirit, affected by the memories of those bell tolls; However, little by little, the music speeds. The couples feverishly whirl, when, suddenly, the Prince gives an abrupt gesture and the musicians stop.
In the shade of the clock, which is heavily striking midnight, there appears, unmoving, a character wrapped in a shroud.
All are seized by a mortal terror.
The Red Death had come like a thief in the night!
The guests fall convulsively one after another as the rooms of this orgy are flooded in a bloody dew.
For short video clips, visit our YouTube page at Chatham University Music Program.
On Friday, January 15, 2016, Walter Morales performed his fifth installment of Beethoven Piano Sonatas.
On January 15, 2016, Walter Morales, piano, performed the fifth installment of his Beethoven Piano Sonata series.
Q: Where did you go to college, and what degree(s) did you earn?
A: I attended Western Michigan University for my undergraduate studies. I received a Bachelor’s in Music and a Bachelor’s in Philosophy. I attended Carnegie Mellon Univeristy for my Master’s in Music, with a concentration in Trumpet Performance.
Q: Is this your first time teaching a course at Chatham?
A: Yes, this is my very first time teaching at Chatham, and I have loved it!
Q: What courses are you teaching at Chatham?
A: I am teaching Fundamentals of Music this semester.
Q: Do you hope to teach at Chatham again?
A: Most definitely! I have loved teaching here. The students are great – exceptionally creative thinkers. The campus is beautiful. This is by far my favorite campus to teach at. I am currently working with Dr. Michael Boyd to create a Pep Band course at Chatham. I am very excited about that and I look forward to this becoming a reality!
Q: Do you teach at any other institutions?
A: I teach at CCAC (Community College of Allegheny County), Mercyhurst University, Bethany College, and I am teaching a course this fall semester at Frostburg State University in Maryland.
Q: Do you participate in any bands, orchestras, choirs, etc?
A: I am the Executive Director of the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh, as well as a member of both River City Brass and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Q: Have you ever taught music lessons? If so, what instrument(s) or were they vocal lessons?
A: At Bethany College, I taught all of the applied music courses, including voice, piano, string instruments, and all of the brass instruments.
Q: Any final comments?
A: Just to restate that I have loved teaching here. The students are great and very creative. And the campus is beautiful!
For more information about Ms. Yanacek, please visit her Twitter, Facebook, or WebPage – erinyanacek.com.
Interview by Hannah Gregor
Music Program Student Assistant
On December 7, 2015, the students who receive private lessons gave an excellent showcase of their progress at the student recital. All vocal performances were accompanied by Mr. Walter Morales, piano.
On Sunday, November 22, 2015, Ms. Daria Rabotkina gave a wonderful performance entitled “Passions in Classical Proportions. The performance included works by Mozart, Medtner, Grieg, Chopin, Ravel, and de Falla. The audience was very enthusiastic and immensely enjoyed the concert.
On November 20, 2015, Sha Wang, piano, performed Schumann’s Kinderszenen and Poulenc’s The Story of Babar, narrated by Louis Luangkesorn.