Artistic Director | Piano
Pianist Max Levinson, Artistic Director of the San Juan Chamber MusicFest in Ouray, Colorado, is an active chamber musician, and 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 widely as soloist throughout the US, Canada and Europe. Levinson also is an active chamber musician, and 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.
Born in the Netherlands and raised in Los Angeles, Levinson began studying piano at age five. His first teachers were Bruce Sutherland and Aube Tzerko, and as a child he also studied cello, composition and conducting. He attended Harvard University, graduating cum laude with a degree in English Literature, and later completed his graduate studies with Patricia Zander at the New England Conservatory of Music, receiving an Artist Diploma and the Gunther Schuller Medal, an award given to the school’s top graduate student.
Levinson has performed as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, New World Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Oregon Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Boston Pops, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland among others. He has worked with such conductors as Robert Spano, Neemi Järvi, Uriel Segal, Joseph Swensen, Jeffrey Kahane and Alasdair Neale. Recital appearances include Washington Performing Arts Society’s “Kreeger String & Hayes Piano Series” at the Kennedy Center, Tonhalle Orchester Zurich’s “Competition Winner Series,” Ravinia’s “Rising Stars,” Lincoln Center’s “What Makes it Great” and the FleetBank Boston “Emerging Artists Series.”
His debut recitals at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and London’s Wigmore Hall as the Guardian Competition winner were critical successes and received standing ovations. He performed ambitious programs, which included works by Bartók, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Schönberg, Schubert and Kirchner. Of the New York debut performance, The New York Times wrote that Levinson’s “quietly eloquent conceptions, formidable technique and lovely touch left little else to be desired.”
Levinson’s most recent recording is of the Brahms Sonatas for Violin and Piano, with violinist Stefan Jackiw (Sony Classical). He has also recorded the Brahms Horn Trio with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival for the Stereophile label, and the violin sonatas of Debussy, Janácek, and Prokofiev with violinist Andrew Kohji Taylor for Warner Classics. Upcoming recording projects include the complete piano music of Bruce Sutherland.
Strongly committed to nurturing young audiences, Levinson has been a participant in the Grammy-in-the-Schools program throughout the United States and in other outreach performances in numerous cities. He has experimented with Internet broadcast, served as Artist-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Lowell House for four years, and has been featured on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today” and “A Note to You.” Levinson serves on the boards of the Aube Tzerko Piano Institute and AMRON (Artists Musicians Recital Opportunity Network). In 2000, he was asked by the Millennium Committee of Ireland to design a National Education Initiative, and gave a televised masterclass as part of the project. He has also taught masterclasses at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Harvard, MIT, Brigham Young University, Rutgers, the University of Washington, UCLA, the Colburn School, Boston University, the Music Teacher’s Association of California annual convention and in various cities throughout the U.S. In 1997, he was named “Best Debut Artist” by The Boston Globe and was added to Steinway’s distinguished roster of artists.
Levinson is Chair of the Piano Department at the Boston Conservatory, and is also a faculty member at the New England Conservatory. He was formerly on the applied music faculty of Brown University. He has recently become active as a conductor, and his performances as conductor of the Killington Music Festival and Foulger Chamber Orchestra have resulted in standing ovations and return engagements. He lives in Boston with his daughters Natalie and Jessica.
Praised for having “a magnificent personality, a superb energy, a total command and an extremely convincing taste” (La Libre Belgique), young Italian violinist Markus Placci is enjoying a growing international reputation that has already brought him solo appearances throughout Europe and the United States in renowned venues such as the Great Philharmonic Hall (Shostakovich Hall) and the Glinka Philarmonic Hall in St. Petersburg (Russia), the Kursaal in Baden-Baden, the Teatro Monumental in Madrid, the Auditori in Barcelona, the Teatro Comunale and Mozart Hall in Bologna, the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan, the Kennedy Center in Washington, Sanders Theater in Boston, and the Richardson Auditorium in Princeton.
Winner of the prestigious “XXVI Vittorio Veneto Competition” on a unanimous vote of the Jury presided by Maestro Bruno Giuranna, Mr. Placci is also the recipient of numerous other international awards and prizes such as the “Brahms Preis” and “Baden-Baden Philarmonie Foundation-Carl Flesch Preis” in Germany, and the “Jules C. Reiner Violin Prize” at Tanglewood. He was a top prize winner at the “Washington International Competition 2006”.
Since his solo debut at age 13 with the Bologna Symphony, Mr. Placci has appeared in solo performances with major symphony orchestras like the Barcelona Symphony, the Radio Television Orchestra of Spain (RTVE), the Baden-Baden Philarmonie, the Annapolis Symphony, the Bologna Symphony, Milan’s Pomeriggi Musicali Orchestra, theTeatro San Carlo of Napoli Symphony, the Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano, the St. Petersburg State Academic Capella Orchestra, the Padova e del Veneto Orchestra, among others.
In September 2005, collaborating with conductor Uwe Mund and the RTVE Orchestra (Orchestra of the Radio-Television of Spain), Mr. Placci world premiered with great acclaim the Violin Concerto written by Catalan composer Jordi Cervelló. The concert was broadcasted live from Teatro Monumental in Madrid both on the radio and the national television (Tve2).
In 2007, Cervelló composed and dedicated to him his “Tre Pensieri” for violin and piano.
Mr. Placci is also an avid chamber musician, with performances that range from duo recitals in prominent concert seasons such as Musica Insieme and Accademia Filarmonica Mozart in Bologna, Società del Quartetto of Vicenza, Asolo Musica, Steinway Hall Boston, to trio appearances as a founding member of the Fortuna Piano Trio with K. Lee and M. Carbonara, which won the “Villecroze Academy Award 2007” in France, and toured South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay).
Throughout the years Mr. Placci has been broadcast live on prominent radio stations such as the BBC Radio, the RTVE-Spain, the Bartok Radio-Hungary, WGBH Boston and RaiRadio in Italy.
In 2007 Mr. Placci has been appointed as Violin Faculty at The Boston Conservatory.
The son of two musicians, he makes his home between Bologna, Italy and Boston. He plays on a 1871 J.B. Vuillaume violin, copy of the “Alard” Stradivari.
Grammy-nominated violist Melissa Reardon is a versatile performer whose playing spans all genres of the viola literature. A First Prize Winner of the Washington International Competition, and the only violist to win top prizes in consecutive HAMS International Viola Competitions, Reardon’s playing has been described as “elegant” and “virtuosic” (Classical Voice). She received the prize for “best performance of a newly commissioned piece” at HAMS in 2006 as well the Tourjee Award in 2002.
Solo engagements have included performances at the Stevens Center, Kennedy Center, Symphony Hall, and Jordan Hall. She has performed as soloist with Camerata Notturna, the Boston Symphony and, most recently, the East Carolina Symphony. Reardon has given recitals in North Carolina, New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, and maintains an international performing schedule as a member of the Enso String Quartet. Reardon is also a founding member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO) and a sought-after collaborative musician.
She has performed with the Miami, Miro, Daedalus, and Borromeo Quartets, and with members of the Guarneri, Mendelssohn, Brentano, St. Lawrence and Shanghai Quartets and the Beaux Arts Trio. Melissa has appeared in numerous festivals across the US, Europe, India and Korea. Recent festivals have included Music in the Vineyards, Chamber Music Northwest, and the Bridgehampton, Charlottesville, and Sangat (Mumbai) Chamber Music Festivals. Melissa has also toured with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and with Musicians from Marlboro, which brought her across the US and to France. In 2006, she was chosen as one of four violists internationally to participate in Chamber Music Connects the World with Gidon Kremer and Yuri Bashmet in Kronberg, Germany.
Reardon holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory. Her principal teachers include Kim Kashkashian, Michael Tree, Joseph dePasquale, Karen Tuttle, Samuel Rhodes, and Hsin-Yun Huang. Early chamber music studies were with Eugene Lehner.
Since 2007, Reardon has held the position of Assistant Professor of Viola at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. She is married to the cellist Raman Ramakrishnan.
Raman Ramakrishnan is a founding member and current cellist of the Horszowski Trio. As a former founding member of the Daedalus Quartet, Ramakrishnan won the grand prize at the 2001 Banff International String Quartet Competition. With the quartet, he has performed coast-to-coast in the United States and Canada, in Japan, Hong Kong, and Panama, and across Europe. The quartet has been in residence at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University, where Ramakrishnan maintains a teaching studio.
Ramakrishnan has given solo recitals in New York, Boston, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., and has performed chamber music on Caramoor’s “Rising Stars” series, at Bargemusic, with the Boston Chamber Music Society, and at the Aspen, Charlottesville, Four Seasons, Lincolnshire (UK), Marlboro, Mehli Mehta (India), Oklahoma Mozart, and Vail Music Festivals. He has toured with Musicians from Marlboro, is a member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, and has performed, as guest principal cellist, with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. As a guest member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, he has collaborated with musicians from the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra and performed in New Delhi and Agra, India and in Cairo, Egypt.
Ramakrishnan was born in Athens, Ohio and grew up in East Patchogue, New York. His father is a molecular biologist and his mother is the children’s book author and illustrator Vera Rosenberry. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard University and a Master’s degree in music from The Juilliard School. His principal teachers have been Fred Sherry, Andrés Díaz, and André Emelianoff.
He lives in New York City with his wife, the violist Melissa Reardon. He plays a Neapolitan cello made by Vincenzo Jorio in 1837.