Petteri Iivonen, Violin
Hailed by Il Gazzettino as an artist with “flawless technique along with expressive interpretation,” Finnish violinist Petteri Iivonen has been praised for his “control and emotional sensitivity” and “colorful details and thoughtful phrasing” (Helsingin Sanomat).
Silver Medalist and Special Prize winner at the 10th International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in 2010, Mr. Iivonen holds the honor of becoming only the second Finnish violinist to win a medal in the history of the competition. He also remains the youngest winner of the quinquennial Kuopio National Violin Competition.
Highlights of Mr. Iivonen’s career include his appearances as a soloist with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia in Belgium, New European Ensemble in Netherlands, as well as the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra. Furthermore, performances in Hungary with the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra, in Italy with the Orchestra Sinfonica del Friuli Venezia Giulia, in Kazakhstan with the Zhambyl State Philharmonic, and with the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, to name a few. In addition, he performed with all of the major orchestras in Finland including the Helsinki and Turku Philharmonic Orchestras, Lahti and Oulu Symphony Orchestras, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Finnish Chamber Orchestra, and the Tapiola Sinfonietta.
Mr. Iivonen has also been heard in concerts at the Museé du Louvre in Paris, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Helsinki Music Centre, Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria in Spain, the Sibelius Hall in Finland, and the Kodaly Center in Hungary. He has worked with esteemed conductors such as Leif Segerstam, Sakari Oramo, Jean-Jacques Kantorow, John Storgards, Hannu Lintu, Giancarlo Guerrero and Jukka-Pekka Saraste, among others. In 2010, Mr. Iivonen performed the monumental Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto under the baton of Zubin Mehta at the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv, Israel.
As a devoted chamber musician, Mr. Iivonen is a regular guest artist at several music festivals inclunding the Naantali and Turku Music Festivals. He has collaborated with world-renowned artists such as Nobuko Imai, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Michel Lethiec, Clive Greensmith, Atar Arad, Frans Helmerson, Michaela Martin, Regis Pasquier, Paul Neubauer, Martin Beaver, Ralf Gothoni, Ara Gregorian, along with the Michelangelo and Tokyo String Quartets. He is a founding member of the Sibelius Piano Trio.
Mr. Iivonen makes frequent appearances worldwide on NDR in Germany and RTBF in Belgium, Israeli Radio, YLE in Finland, as well as Classical 96.3 in Toronto and all across the United States including KUSC in California and WQXR in New York. Yarlung Records released his debut recordings in co-operation with Linn Records in 2009, featuring works by Bach, Brahms, Debussy, Franck, Ysaÿe and David Lefkowitz’s “Eli Eli” (2008) dedicated to Mr. Iivonen.
Born in Helsinki, Mr. Iivonen received his first violin studies at the age of four. At the age of 9, he entered the Sibelius Academy as the last student of Tuomas Haapanen. With additional guidance from Shlomo Mintz, Mr. Iivonen continued his studies with his friend and mentor, Hagai Shaham at the USC Thornton School of Music, the Tel Aviv University and Stony Brook University.
Mr. livonen will join the National Opera Orchestra of Finland as a new concertmaster in Auguest, 2017. He plays a 1755 G. B. Guadagnini through the generosity of the Finnish Cultural Foundation.
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Mika Sasaki, Piano
Pianist Mika Sasaki has established herself as a sought-after soloist, chamber musician, and emerging educator. Since her concerto debut with the Sinfonia of Cambridge (U.K.) at age seven, she appeared twice with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and more recently with the 92Y Orchestra in New York City. She has performed at venues including the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie, Steinway Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Peter J. Sharp Theater, Palazzo Chigi Saracini (Italy), Minatomirai Hall (Japan), Tokyo Bunka Kaikan (Japan), and live on WQXR radio. Her solo debut album “Obsidian: Mika Sasaki plays Clara Schumann” was released on Yarlung Records in 2016, highly acclaimed by the Online Merker as “illuminat[ing] the artistic inspiration and creative exchange between these three Romantic souls,” Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms.
A versatile pianist praised for her musicianship, Mika regularly appears at the Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall and in various community venues and schools in New York City as a pianist of Ensemble Connect—a fellowship program of Carnegie Hall, Juilliard, and the Weill Institute in partnership with the NYC Department of Education, focusing on chamber music performance, teaching artistry, and entrepreneurship. As a soloist and chamber musician, she has been invited to festivals such as Music@Menlo, Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Italy), Taos, Icicle Creek, Yellow Barn, Mannes Beethoven Institute, Aspen and Estherwood (U.K.). She was a Leonard Bernstein Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, where her interpretation of Schubert’s Grand Duo for four-hands was hailed as a “colorful reading of the work … [with] nuance and sensitivity to Schubert’s music.” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). In 2016, she performed as an Artist in Residence at pianoSonoma’s winter and summer festivals in New York and California. Her summer engagements this year include teaching and performing at the Danbury Music Centre’s Chamber Music Intensive in Connecticut.
Born in Atlanta, Mika grew up in Demarest, New Jersey, and began her studies with Olegna Fuschi at the Juilliard Pre-College at the age of seven. After moving to Tokyo, Japan, in 2001 with her family, she returned to the U.S. to study with Benjamin Pasternack at the Peabody Conservatory, where she was a recipient of several awards in piano and chamber music in the five-year BM/MM program. She is currently completing her doctoral studies as a C. V. Starr Fellow at the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Joseph Kalichstein. She teaches piano and keyboard skills in the Juilliard Evening Division, and works with middle school students at I.S. 025 in Queens as part of her fellowship with Ensemble Connect.
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