Rising star pianist to join top players in trio performance
November 15, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) In March 1999, Orion Weiss, a young, award-winning pianist, was called upon to carry out a rather large task; fill in for internationally famed concert pianist André Watts in a performance with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, in less than 24 hours.
He was 17 years old at the time and almost turned down the offer. “At first I didn’t want to go because I had already made some social plans for that weekend, but my teacher convinced me it was an opportunity I shouldn’t miss. He was right,” said Weiss.
Weiss played Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Piano Concerto No. 2,” a work he had played a few months earlier. His performance was so successful he was invited to return to Baltimore that October to play Pytor Illych Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto.” Since that time Weiss’s meteoric rise into the realm of top-flight classical music has included performances with the San Francisco Symphony, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has played with chamber groups, and in recitals and music festivals around the country and the world. In 2005 he toured Israel with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the famed Itzhak Perlman. This past summer, Weiss performed his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood and is planning a release of a recital album with works by Antonin Dvorak, Sergei Prokofiev and Béla Bartók.
On Dec. 8, Weiss will bring his talents to La Sierra University’s Hole Memorial Auditorium as the featured performer of a chamber music trio that will include La Sierra’s Director of String Studies Jason Uyeyama, a violinist and international orchestral performer, and cellist Madeleine Kabat, a prize-winning soloist and symphonic performer who is currently enrolled in the artist diploma program at Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. She also serves as a teaching assistant at Oberlin. The group will play Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Piano Trio in G Major Op. 121a, Ten Variations on ‘Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu’” (Wenzel Müller); Johannes Brahms’ “Sonata for Piano and Cello in E minor, Op. 38”; and Shostakovich’s “Piano Trio in E Minor Op. 67.”
The concert begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 general admission; $5 senior citizens; $20 family admission; free admission for children age 12 and under. For additional information call 951-785-2036. La Sierra University is located at 4500 Riverwalk Parkway, Riverside.
A native of Lyndhurst, Ohio, Weiss began learning piano through the Suzuki method at age 3. He later attended the Cleveland Institute of Music and in 2004 graduated from the renowned Juilliard School in New York City. He has garnered a long list of awards including the Gilmore Young Artist Award and an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Last year he was named the Classical Recording Foundation’s Young Artist of the Year. During the 2011-2012 season, Weiss will perform with numerous orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and will make his recital debut at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. He performs regularly with his wife, pianist Anna Polonsky, and collaborates with other groups and recitalists.
Weiss said the list of his favorite pieces is “too long to print, and it’s growing all the time.” He practices every day and the length of time spent practicing is “determined by how much I want to get done,” he said. He met La Sierra’s Uyeyama last year in Medellin, Colombia where the two coached and performed with students attending a music festival. “We were instant friends and musical kindred spirits,” Weiss said.
Uyeyama, also a graduate of the Juilliard School, is a regular performer with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has also played with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on its Asian tour.
He earned a master’s degree from Juilliard where he studied with renowned violinists Perlman and Masao Kawasaki.
Uyeyama’s music festival appearances include those at widely known festivals in Aspen, Colo., Taos, New Mexico, Tanglewood Music Center near Stockbridge, Mass., and Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo. He is also music director of Community Kids Connection-Music, a collaborative program with Loma Linda University that provides free music lessons for underprivileged children in San Bernardino.
Cellist Kabat, the daughter of a university music technician, started down a musical career path at age 11 when a viola da gamba her father brought home to work on sparked an interest. Since the cello is the modern counterpart to the gamba, her parents signed her up for cello lessons, Kabat said. “I knew I wanted to be a cellist and never pursued any other career paths,” she said. A few years later at age 18, Kabat debuted with the Cleveland Orchestra. She has won top prizes in many events including the Klein, William C. Byrd, Fischoff, and Hellam international and national competitions. An active orchestral musician, Kabat has performed with the Houston Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
She has appeared as featured soloist with the Springfield Symphony in Missouri, the Cleveland Philharmonic, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra in South Carolina, and the Festival Mozaic Orchestra in California. She has also appeared as a guest artist for La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest, a gala in Carnegie Hall for Keshet Eilon, and in Mexico City on a trip sponsored by the Juilliard School.
Kabat holds diplomas from Juilliard, Rice University and the Cleveland Institute of Music. She met Uyeyama a few years ago when she played at Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo and has performed with the violinist several times since.
“I am looking forward so much to being back at La Sierra,” Kabat said. “I love playing with both Jason and Orion, and it will be a real pleasure to be back to play this concert.”
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University