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Sophie Shao and Friends Return to Middlebury Dec. 5 for World Premiere

November 17, 2014

“Revelations” for Piano Quintet Will Honor Series Director Paul Nelson


Middlebury, VT—Award-winning cellist Sophie Shao, a frequent guest on the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series, has a unique talent for assembling supremely gifted chamber ensembles. She returns to Middlebury December 5 with her newest group: an international piano quintet comprised of violinists Carmit Zori and Hye-Jin Kim, violist Teng Li, and pianist Gilles Vonsattel. They will perform Haydn’s Piano Trio No. 43 in C Major, Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F Minor, and the world premiere of Revelations for Piano Quintet, composed by Middlebury College Professor of Music Su Lian Tan in honor of Paul Nelson’s 30th and final season as the Performing Arts Series director.


Cellist Sophie Shao attended the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music at thirteen, and continued her studies at Yale, receiving a B.A. in Religious Studies and an M.M. from the Yale School of Music. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Avery Fisher Career Grant and top prizes at the Rostropovich and Tchaikovsky international music competitions. Now her career takes her all around the world; highlights of last season include her Washington recital debut at the Phillips Collection, an appearance on “What Makes it Great” at Lincoln Center, performances of Howard Shore’s Mythic Gardens (a concerto written for her) with the BBC Concert Orchestra in London and the 21st Century Symphony in Switzerland. This season includes her annual “Sophie Shao and Friends” tour, with stops in Schenectady, New York; Danbury, Connecticut; and Middlebury and Brattleboro, Vermont. She plays on an 1860 cello by French instrument maker Honoré Derazey, once owned by the legendary cellist Pablo Casals.

At the recommendation of iconic musicians Isaac Stern and Alexander Schneider, violinist Carmit Zori came to the United States from her native Israel at the age of fifteen to study at the Curtis Institute of Music. Winner of the Leventritt and Pro Musicis Awards, she has toured internationally with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and with Musicians from Marlboro. Zori has participated in music festivals on three continents, and can be heard in recordings on the Arabesque, Koch International, and Nonesuch labels. Zori is artistic director of the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society, which she founded in 2002.
Korean-born violinist Hye-Jin Kim won the 2009 Concert Artists Guild International Competition and first prize at the 2004 Yehudi Menuhin International Competition. She has performed as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra, and Seoul Philharmonic. At the invitation of Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, she was honored to perform at the U.N. Headquarters in both Geneva and New York. Kim plays a Gioffredo Cappa violin, crafted in Saluzzo, Italy in 1687.

Chinese-born violist Teng Li was appointed principal viola of the Toronto Symphony at the age of only 21. She has appeared at many of chamber music’s most important festivals: Marlboro, Santa Fe, Mostly Mozart, Music from Angel Fire, Moritzburg, and the Rising Stars Festival. Li was featured with the Guarneri Quartet in their last season, and was a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two Program. Her awards include the Primrose International Viola Competition, the Irving M. Klein International String Competition, and the ARD International Music Competition.


Swiss-born, American pianist Gilles Vonsattel is the recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and winner of the Naumburg and Geneva competitions. He recently made his Boston Symphony, Tanglewood, and San Francisco Symphony debuts. He has performed at the Tonhalle Zürich; Wigmore Hall in London; in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan; in Frankfurt, Germany; and in the U.S. in Washington, Baltimore, Detroit, the Gilmore and Ravinia Festivals, and at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York.


A highlight of this concert will be the world premiere of the commissioned work “Revelations”by acclaimed composer, flutist, and professor Su Lian Tan. In the past, her work has been commissioned by such groups as the Takacs Quartet, the Da Capo Chamber Players, and the Vermont Symphony. She has dedicated “Revelations” to Performing Arts Series Director Paul Nelson, on the occasion of his 30th and final season at the helm. She writes, “In Paul Nelson, I have not only found a very good friend, but a mentor whom I hold in the highest regard. Much of the structure of the first movement is shaped to express life as scholar, teacher, and role model. The effort of seeking while feeling the pressures to achieve, alongside devotion to a community of peers and students, are described in the layering of Baroque counterpoint and contemporary rhythms and note palette. These elements progress in their individual manner and are held together by form. The challenges of pursuing higher ground in the face of relentless distractions becomes the ethos. The instruments race urgently to an apex, a density of experience, only to give way to more thought and contemplation.”

The concert by Sophie Shao and Friends will take place on Friday, December 5, at 8:00 P.M. in the Concert Hall of the Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts, on the campus of Middlebury College. The Mahaney Center is located at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury, just off Route 30 south. Free parking is available. Tickets are $25 for the general public; $20 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, and other ID card holders; and $6 for Middlebury College students. For tickets or information, call (802) 443-MIDD (6433) or go to

Mahaney Arts Center
Middlebury College
South Main St./Route 30 South
72 Porter Field Rd.
Middlebury, VT 05753
(802) 443-3168 phone
(802) 443-2834 fax