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San Juan Chamber MusicFest

San Juan Chamber MusicFest

The San Juan Chamber MusicFest, our flagship event, is right around the corner! The annual MusicFest features a small group of musicians of international renown, under the artistic direction of pianist Max Levinson, producing a number of concerts and events throughout Ouray County.

This year’s Chamber MusicFest takes place from Wednesday, Aug. 20 through Sunday, Aug. 24.

MusicFest concerts showcase the full repertoire of chamber music classics by the great composers, as well as more contemporary and lesser-known pieces.

Programs this year include an informal Classical Café featuring music from around the world, a free family concert with “Professor Wolfgang Amadeus Schmutzinberry”, a traditional classical concert at the Wright Opera House featuring the music of great Eastern European composers Dohnanyi, Bartok and Dvorak, master classes, and an intimate dinner salon concert in a private home.

Levinson, as artistic director, is a constant presence at MusicFest with his sparkling piano virtuosity. The San Fransisco Chronicle has proclaimed him “one of the brightest, most intellectually fearless pianists of his generation.”

Each year, Levinson selects several guest musicians to perform with him at MusicFest. This year’s guest musicians included violinist Nurit Pacht and classical guitarist Vami Ramos, who will perform the Giuliani Duo for Violin and Guitar with Pacht (his wife) at the dinner salon concert as well as portraying “Wolfgang Amadeus Schmutzinberry” in a delightfully whimsical family concert. Student musicians Julia Yang on cello and Emily Brandenburg on viola complete the ensemble this year.

Other featured guest musicians in recent years have included violinists Irina Muresanu and Catherine Leonard, violinist/violist Patrick Shaughnessy, cellists Allison Eldredge, Thomas Landschoot, Felix Fan and Brinton Smith, and clarinetist Caroll McGonnell.

Meet the Musicians:

Max Levinson – Artistic Director, Piano

Max Levinson

Max Levinson

Pianist Max Levinson is known as an intelligent and sensitive artist with a fearless technique. The Washington Post writes, “You can hear gasps in the audience – Max Levinson displays technical wizardry. His playing has solid, assured technique, clarity of vision and a sense of the permanent values in music that underlie surface variations.” He has performed as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Colorado Symphony, New World Symphony, Boston Pops, San Antonio Symphony, Louisville Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, and in recital at New York’s Lincoln Center, Washington DC’s Kennedy Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, Zürich’s Tonhalle, the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, Jordan Hall in Boston, and throughout the US, Canada, and Europe.

Levinson’s international career was launched when he won First Prize at the 1997 Dublin International Piano Competition, the first American to achieve this distinction. He then received overwhelming critical acclaim for his two solo recordings on N2K Encoded Music, and was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in March 1999. Most recently he was awarded the 2005 Andrew Wolf Award, given biannually to a pianist for achievement as a chamber musician.

Max Levinson is a graduate of Harvard and the New England Conservatory, receiving an Artist Diploma and the Gunther Schuller Medal. His teachers include Patricia Zander, Aube Tzerko and Bruce Sutherland. An active chamber musician, Levinson has collaborated with such artists as Pinchas Zukerman, the Tokyo , Vermeer, Mendelssohn, and Borromeo Quartets, and regularly appears at major music festivals including Santa Fe , Marlboro, Tanglewood, La Jolla, Killington, and Switzerland ‘s Davos Festival.

He is currently on the faculty at Boston Conservatory and Brown University and is a Steinway Artist. He lives in Boston with his wife, cellist Allison Eldredge, and their daughters Natalie and Jessica.

»» Visit Max Levinson’s site


Guest musicians for the 2014 San Juan Chamber MusicFest:

Nurit Pacht – Violin

Nurit Pacht, violinist

Nurit Pacht, violinist

Violinist Nurit Pacht was selected as one of the “Stars of the Year 2000″ by Le Monde de la Musique and since then her career has blossomed with appearances in London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Moscow’s Great Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, Carnegie’s Weill Hall, The People’s Hall of China in Beijing and at Ravinia’s Rising Stars Series. Chosen by director Robert Wilson to be the featured musician in his multi-media piece Relative Light   featuring solo violin works by John Cage’s and J.S. Bach, Nurit is equally at home in the standard repertoire as in the contemporary.

Last season, Nurit performed as soloist in collaboration with the dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones in one of Europe’s greatest Cathedrals, the Duomo in Milan as well as at Kennedy Center and on tour in many U.S. capitals with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company culminating in performances at the Lincoln Center Summer Festival.    She is now in her third season serving as the artistic director of the “Alliance Players,” a dynamic group of musicians who perform innovative programs in New York City.   Nurit performed in duo recitals with Philip Glass playing the composer’s works for violin and piano.

»» Visit Nurit Pacht’s site


Rami Vamos – Classical Guitarist, Music Educator

Rami Vamos

Rami Vamos

Rami is a performer, educator, writer and composer producing a wide array of creative output, ranging from Children’s musicals to chamber compositions. For the past ten years he has used these creations to share an appreciation of classical music with people of all ages. He is now serving as a teaching artist for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Portraying “Wolfgang Amadeus Schmutzinberry,” at the San Juan Chamber MusicFest Family Concert, Rami will delight and educate us all! He will also perform classical guitar at the Dinner Salon.

As a classical guitarist Vamos has performed extensively throughout the United States. This last year Music in The Loft in Chicago commissioned a work by Ricardo Lorenz for him to perform with the Pacifica String Quartet. He is a founding member of the Sap Dream electric guitar quartet, which performed at the Norfolk Summer Music Festival, New York Guitar Festival and at Princeton and Yale Universities. Twice a month Rami does volunteer bedside performances at hospitals throughout New York City.  

»» Visit Rami’s website


Julia Yang – Cello

Hailing from Tallahassee, Fla., Julia Yang is a multi-faceted young performer currently established in the Boston area and active as soloist, orchestral player and chamber musician.

As a solo cellist, Julia has won numerous prestigious competitions.  Her orchestral leadership experience is broad, having performed as principal cellist under conductors such as Hugh Wolff, Leonard Slatkin, and Nicholas McGegan as well as serving as rotating principal for New England Conservatory’s Conductor-less Chamber Orchestra for their 2012-13 season.   In 2011, she was chosen to play as associate principal cellist of the Youtube Orchestra under conductor Michael Tilson Thomas in Sydney, Australia, performing concerts in the iconic Sydney Opera House.  Currently, Julia is the associate principal of the Discovery Ensemble, and has been called upon to play principal for both Discovery Ensemble as well as other orchestras in the Boston area such as the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra.

On a personal level, Julia also loves to improvise on the cello, and has spent the past five years playing with regularly with worship bands at churches around Chicago and Boston.  She has also enjoyed performing and attending Groupmuses – the new house party/classical music concert mix on the rise in the Boston scene.

Emily Brandenburg – Viola

Emily has won numerous awards and performance opportunities since she began her music studies. She has soloed with one of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestras, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Soloists Orchestra, and the Warwick Symphony Orchestra. 

She has become an avid orchestral and chamber musician, performing with various orchestras such the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestras, Rhode Island Soloists Orchestra, the Macon Symphony Orchestra, the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra . Being a supporter of new music, Emily has worked with and premiered numerous new compositions by composer Nathan Prillaman. She was also a member of a contemporary ensemble at the McDuffie Center for Strings during her undergraduate degree and continues to perform new music at NEC.

Emily is a currently pursuing a Masters degree at New England Conservatory studying with Martha Katz. She holds a Bachelor degree from the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings where she was a student of Lawrence Dutton of the Emerson String Quartet and Rebecca Albers assistant principle of the Minnesota Orchestra.