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Ursula Oppens, piano

Sun, October 29th, 2006
4:00 pm

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Mozart: Sonata in F Major, K. 533 & K. 494

Carter: Night Fantasies


Chopin: Barcarolle & Ballade No. 3

Schubert: Wanderer Fantasie


About Ursula Oppens
Ursula Oppens is one of the few pianists before the public today who has won equal renown as an interpreter of the established repertoire and a champion of contemporary music. Her performances of music old and new are marked by a powerful grasp of the composer’s musical intentions and an equally sure command of the keyboard’s resources. These qualities have placed her in the ranks of the world’s foremost interpreters.

The 2006/07 for Ms. Oppens will include Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 with the DuPage Symphony orchestra; the Shostakovich Piano Quintet with the Rossetti String Quartet for Maverick Concerts; a recital for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society that includes the Ligeti Trio for violin, piano and horn; a duo program with jazz clarinetist Don Byron at Merkin Hall; an appearance at the Miller Theatre at Columbia University in an all-Julius Hemphill program; a program of music of Tania Leon at Symphony Space; a duo recital with Jerome Lowenthal at Queen College; recital and masterclasses at Williams College and the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Music; and under the auspices of the Adams Foundation she will perform recitals in Thomaston, CT, Bozeman, MT, Providence College, Auburn, NY, and Elon College.

In the 2005-06 season Ms. Oppens performed in New York at the Aaron Davis Center playing music of Tania Léon; at the Miller Theatre in a new work by Frederic Rzewski; and at Zankel Hall in a Meredith Monk program. She appeared in recital at the Einstein’s 1905 Festival at the Perimeter Institute of Waterloo, Ontario; in Tucson, Arizona with the Pacifica Quartet in the Piano Quintet by Dmitri Tymoczko; in Elliott Carter’s “Dialogues” at Pittsburgh’s “Music on the Edge” and with the Northwestern University Symphony in Evanston; in several performances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in its Elliott Carter Festival; and with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra in Lou Harrison’s Piano Concerto at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, among other engagements. During the summer of 2005 Ms. Oppens performed Elliott Carter’s Dialogues at the Tanglewood Festival and was heard in recital at the International Keyboard Institute and Festival at the Mannes College of Music; she also participated in the Southeastern Piano Festival at the University of South Carolina, at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, at the Las Vegas Music Festival, at Maverick Concerts with the Rossetti Quartet and at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in Michigan, where she performed in recital and was heard in six chamber music concerts.
Ms. Oppens has performed with virtually all of the world’s major orchestras. In previous seasons she has been heard with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, and the orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Milwaukee. Abroad, she has appeared with such orchestras as the Berlin Symphony, Orchestra de la Suisse Romande, the Deutsche Symphonie, the Scottish BBC and the London Philharmonic Orchestras. She has also played at the Aspen, Tanglewood, Santa Fe, Edinburgh, Bath and Holland Festivals, among others. An enduring commitment to integrating new music into regular concert life has led Ms. Oppens to commission and premiere any compositions. Among these are works by Anthony Braxton, Elliott Carter, Anthony Davis, John Harbison, Julius Hemphill, Tania Leon, György Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Conlon Nancarrow, Tobias Picker, Frederic Rzewski, Alvin Singleton, Joan Tower, Lois V Vierk, Christian Wolff, Amnon Wolman, and Charles Wuorinen.

A co-founder of Speculum Musicae, Ms. Oppens has recorded extensively. She received two Grammy nominations: for her Vanguard recording of Frederic Rzewski’s “The People United Will Never Be Defeated,” and for “American Piano Music of Our Time,” a classic compilation of piano works by 20th century American composers for the Music & Arts label. The latter was also named in John Rockwell’s “Best of the Year” survey for The New York Times along with her recording for New World Records of Elliott Carter’s Piano Concerto. Ms. Oppens’s recent releases include a disc of chamber music by Elliott Carter with the Arditti Quartet on the Audivis label and Charles Wuorinen’s Piano Quintet on Koch International Classics. Other recordings include Joan Tower’s Piano Concerto on De Note Records; Rzewski’s “Night Crossing with Fishermen” and a disc of Schoenberg’s vocal music with soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson, both for Music and Arts; and the Brahms Viola Sonatas with Barbara Westphal on Bridge Records.

Throughout her career Ms. Oppens has played at many of the world’s major festivals, including those in Aspen, Tanglewood, Santa Fe, Ojai, Music Academy of the West, Edinburgh, Bonn, Cabrillo, Stresa, Bath, Bergamo, Brescia, Japan, and the Holland Festival. She has also been heard in recital and concerto performances at many European music centers, including the South Bank Center and the BBC Broadcasting House in London, the Vienna Radio Orchestra, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, and in Stockholm, Brussels, Geneva, and Bonn.

Ms. Oppens studied piano with her mother, the late Edith Oppens, as well as with Leonard Shure and Guido Agosti, and received her master’s degree at The Juilliard School, where she studied with Felix Galimir and Rosina Lhévinne. As an undergraduate at Radcliffe College, she studied English literature and economics. A native New Yorker, Ms. Oppens made her New York debut at Carnegie Recital Hall in 1969 under the auspices of Young Concert Artists. She won first prize in the Busoni International Piano Competition that same year, and was awarded the Diploma d’onore of the Accademia Chigiana in 1970. In 1976 she won an Avery Fisher Career Grant, which led to a performance with the New York Philharmonic. Ms. Oppens can be heard on Angel, Arista, Audivis, BMG, Bridge, CBS Masterworks, CP2, CRI, De Note, Koch International Classics, Music and Arts, Vanguard, New Albion, New World, Nonesuch, and Watt Works. Ms. Oppens, who was appointed John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music at Northwestern University in 1994, divides her time between Evanstown, IL and New York City.

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