Middlebury

Award-winning cellist returns to Middlebury for January 10 perfomance

December 22, 2008

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? Award-winning cellist Sophie Shao has garnered international acclaim for her brilliant, mature interpretations of a diverse repertoire. On Saturday, Jan. 10, at 8 p.m., Shao will perform at the Middlebury College Kevin P. Mahaney '84 Center for the Arts Concert Hall with pianist Pei-Yao Wang, also returning to Middlebury, Tai Murray on violin and Eric Nowlin on viola. Their program will include the Brahms Quartets in G Minor and C Minor, and the Mozart Quartet in E-flat Major.

Winner of top prizes at the 2001 Rostropovich Competition and the Tchaikovsky Competition in 2002, Shao also received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant at the age of nineteen. Strad Magazine praised her "superior sense of style" and the World News described her "sensitive, stylistic playing, with great finesse, emotion, and gorgeous tone."

She made her first appearance with the Houston Symphony at the age of eleven and has returned to perform with the orchestra on numerous occasions. Other appearances include the Orchestre de Paris with Christoph Eschenbach, the Russian State Academic Symphony Cappella with Valery Poliansky, Erie Symphony, Yale Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, and the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra. She has performed recitals throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, in such venues as the 92nd Street Y, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Merkin Hall in New York; Suntory Hall in Tokyo; Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh; Ford Centre in Toronto; and Rice University in Houston.

In great demand as a chamber musician, she has collaborated with members of the Beaux Arts Trio, the Guarneri, Juilliard and Mendelssohn String Quartets, and has performed with such distinguished artists as Andre Previn, Eugene Istomin and Paquito D'Rivera, among many others. Shao's festival appearances include Marlboro, Chamber Music Northwest, Bard, Caramoor, Bridgehampton, Sarasota, Music from Angel Fire, Vail, Saratoga and Ravinia.

She records on EMI Classics, and her 1995 performance of Mendelssohn's Quartet in A minor appears on Marlboro Music Festival's 50th Anniversary Album on Bridge Records. In 2005, Albany Records released "Diablerie," featuring the music of composer Richard Wilson as performed by Rolfe Schulte on violin, Shao on cello, Allen Blustine on clarinet and Wilson on piano. Shao resides in Manhattan, and teaches cello at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, Vassar College and Princeton University.

At the age of eight, Taipei-born pianist Pei-Yao Wang was the youngest pianist ever to receive the overall first prize in the Taiwan National Piano Competition. Four years later, she was invited to study at The Curtis Institute of Music, where she worked with Seymour Lipkin and Institute Director Gary Graffman. She then studied with Claude Frank at Yale University, where she received a Master of Music. She has established herself as a prominent soloist and chamber musician and has performed throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia at venues including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York City; the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; Salle des Varietes in Monte-Carlo; Suntory Hall in Tokyo; and the National Concert Hall in Taipei.

Since her debut with the Chicago Symphony at age nine, violinist Tai Murray has energetically and deliberately left her mark on the chamber music world. She has performed with the orchestras of Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis and Sacramento, among others. Murray is known for her maturity and grace, and "awe-inspiring execution," according to the Salt Lake Tribune. She is a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center II and performs regularly with the Ritz Chamber Players.

Violist Eric Nowlin has performed extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad. His solo appearances include the Springfield Symphony in Missouri, Santa Cruz Symphony and Peninsula Symphony in California, and the Kumamoto Symphony in Japan. He has given recitals in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Mexico, and has been featured on National Public Radio.

The performance is sponsored by the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series. The Mahaney Center for the Arts Concert Hall is located on South Main Street (Route 30). Reserved seating tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for seniors. A pre-performance dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. at Rehearsals Cafe in the Center for the Arts. Reservations are required. For tickets or dinner reservations, contact the Middlebury College Box Office at 802-443-6433 or www.middlebury.edu/arts.