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Violists of The Azure Ensemble

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May 17, 2015 6:00 pm

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Violists of The Azure Ensemble:  Karen Ritscher and Anne Lanzilotti with Karl Larson, piano

New York, NY — The Azure Ensemble presents violists Anne Lanzilotti and Karen Ritscher, performing contemporary works for the viola. They will be joined by Karl Larson, piano, and composer Hannah Selin on electronics. Both Selin’s Oflactory Bulbs and Wollschleger’s Soft Aberrations were written specifically for the performers on this concert, and developed through close collaboration. This program is made possible through a grant from the Alice M. Ditson Fund.

 The Azure Ensemble (Susan Glaser, Artistic Director) is one of New York City’s most exciting new chamber music groups. Varied and notable repertoire is a hallmark of the ensemble, which draws its members from the finest musicians in New York City; a diverse instrumentation allows the performance of both traditional and new repertoire.  Original programming is a hallmark of The Azure Ensemble; the group has commissioned and premiered numerous works by important contemporary composers, including Yuriko Kojima, Pablo Ortiz, Anne LeBaron, Alan Shockley, Yoon Hee Hwang, Amanda Harberg,  Jeeyoung Kim, Marilyn Bliss, and Stella Sung. 

Performer Biographies:


A fierce advocate of contemporary music, violist Anne Lanzilotti has distinguished herself premiering solo and chamber music works by many leading composers, including Dai Fujikura, Ted Hearne, Andrew Norman, and Jagoda Szmytka throughout Europe and the United States. Lanzilotti’s recently launched online project Shaken Not Stuttered demonstrates extended techniques for strings used in Norman’s orchestral and chamber works. She has performed with renowned new music ensembles Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Interface, Ensemble of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL Alumni, Ensemble Signal, and with computer music engineers from IRCAM Paris. Pierre Boulez, Gustavo Dudamel, Sir Simon Rattle, and Michael Tilson Thomas are among the conductors she has worked with as an orchestral musician. She was co-Principal violist of the New World Symphony. Lanzilotti performed with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, during which time she premiered many new works for orchestra at the international new music festivals MaerzMusik and Ultraschall, and recorded works by Wagner and Janáček for the Dutch Label PentaTone. A passionate Teaching Artist, Lanzilotti is on the faculty at NYU Steinhardt. She is a co-founder and Artistic Consultant for Kalikolehua — El Sistema Hawai‘i, a free orchestra program for underserved youth. Lanzilotti began her string studies with Hiroko Primrose, a renowned pedagogue and protégé of Shinichi Suzuki. Other mentors have included Peter Slowik, Jesse Levine, Karen Ritscher, and Wilfried Strehle. Lanzilotti performs on a 1970 Peresson viola. She is a native of Hawai‘i. annelanzilotti.com, www.shakennotstuttered.com


Karen Ritscher, praised by the New York Times for her “superior musicianship,” is recognized internationally as a leading pedagogue, soloist and chamber musician. She has also served as principal violist of the Houston Grand Opera, the Dallas Opera, American Composers Orchestra and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. She has taught at many of the leading conservatories of the United States and her students hold prestigious posts in major orchestras, string quartets and at universities throughout the world. She is on the viola faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, New York University, Boston University and City University of New York. She has judged many international competitions, most recently the Primrose, in June of 2011. As a master class clinician and recitalist, she has appeared throughout the United States as well as Canada, Mexico, Spain, Czech Republic, Korea, Taiwan and China. Her summer residencies have included the Aspen Music Festival, the Heifetz International Institute of Music, Litomisl International Masterclasses in the Czech Republic, and Domaine-Forget in Canada. Since its inception in 2002, she has served on the faculty of the annual “Karen Tuttle Coordination Workshop.” Ms. Ritscher performs and records with the Azure Ensemble, a new music chamber group based in NYC. She has been a member of the Aureus Piano Quartet, Steve Reich Musicians and St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble. She has toured and recorded with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, New York Philharmonic and the Houston Symphony. As a champion of living composers, Ms. Ritscher has commissioned and/or premiered works from many composers including Bruce Adolphe, Alexandra DuBois, Wendy Mae Chambers, Linda Bouchard, Tan Dun, Chen Yi, Bright Sheng and Alice Shields. She has appeared at seven International Viola Congresses as featured soloist and presenter. Ms. Ritscher is honored to have been the string consultant for the award-winning book by Madeline Bruser, The Art of Practicing; a Guide to Making Music from the Heart. She is the Education Editor of the Journal of the American Viola Society and frequent contributor to string magazines.


Brooklyn based pianist Karl Larson is a specialist in the music of our time, consistently presenting adventurous programs. Karl has premiered many solo piano and chamber pieces, including works by David Lang, David Rakowski, Ken Thomson, Robert Honstein, Chris Cerrone, and Ravi Kittappa. He is also well versed in the modern canon, having presented concerts featuring the music of Olivier Messiaen, Morton Feldman, Pierre Boulez, and György Ligeti. Recent performances of note include Morton Feldman’s Triadic Memories, John Cage’s HPSCHD, and Tristan Perich’s Dual Synthesis for harpsichord and one-bit electronics. A sought after collaborator, Larson has worked with many notable musicians from around the country, including Tristan Perich, Mantra, Eve Beglarian, the Eco Ensemble, the Sleeping Giant Composer Collective, and the W4 Composer Collective. He has also collaborated with members of the Bang On a Can All-Stars, Ensemble Signal, Eighth Blackbird, the California E.A.R. Unit, Ensemble Dal Niente, and the Mivos Quartet. He has been featured on the Bang on a Can Marathon, the MATA Festival, WQXR’s Hammered!, the Contagious Sounds Series, the Frequency Series, Make Music New York, the Red Note New Music Festival, the Ball State New Music Festival, the Music in the Shape of a Pear Festival, and the Bowling Green State University New Music Festival. Along with composer Ravi Kittappa, Larson curates Permutations, a New York City based monthly event featuring new music and art of all styles and genres. The series was created for young professional musicians and artists as a method of raising funds for progressive projects. Past events have featured the Color Field Ensemble, the Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Phonema Consort, TAK, Alejandro Acierto, and Eric Carlson. Larson is also a founding member of Bearthoven, a piano, bass, and percussion trio dedicated to the frequent promotion and performance of brand new works. Since the groups formation in 2013, Bearthoven has already commissioned over 15 pieces and has enjoyed a busy and successful performance schedule. Karl received a Doctor of Musical Arts in Contemporary Music and a Master of Music in Piano Performance at Bowling Green State University, where he studied with Dr. Laura Melton. Larson completed his undergraduate degree at Luther College in Decorah Iowa as a pupil of Dr. John Strauss. He is on faculty at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. karllarsonpiano.com



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