Violinist Gil Shaham is certainly one of the world’s greatest and most talented classical performers. Born in Urbana, Illinois (USA) from Israeli parents, he was raised in Jerusalem when the family went back to Israel. He started studying violin at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem and debuted at the age of 10 as a true enfant prodige. He then returned to the United States to continue his studies, up to the point when he received scholarship from the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. His career really started to sizzle in 1989, at the age of 18, when he was called in at the last minute to substitute an ailing Itzhak Perlman for a concert with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, performing violin concertos by Max Bruch and Jean Sibelius. From that point on, Gil’s career launched into the classical music stardom and he became a major live performer and recording artist for the violin repertoire. He received many accolades and awards for his achievements, including a Grammy Award in 1999 and the coveted Avery Fisher Prize in 2008. He was also named “Instrumentalist of the Year” in 2012 by the magazine Musical America.
In the recent years, film music has seen almost an explosion of presence into the programs of many symphony orchestra around the world. The repertoire of great music written for films is nowadays seen as a very strong pole that is able to attract new and wider audiences into the concert halls. The immediacy of the lexicon used by film music, coupled with the fond memories of some great classic movies, is helping to shape a new generation of listeners toward the beauty of symphonic music and classical repertoire. The music of John Williams has played a pivotal role, as it’s been embraced by millions of people around the world and continues to be one of the most beloved to listen to live when people packs concert halls. This happened especially thanks to the strong endorsement and tireless enthusiasm of several conductors who are especially keen toward film music and Williams’ own repertoire. One of these musical heroes is American conductor Richard Kaufman. Continue reading ““Music is music”: Interview with Richard Kaufman”→
American pianist Gloria Cheng is one of the world’s leading instrumentalist who crossed musical boundaries and brought her own art to a wide variety of genres and styles. Over the years she specialized in contemporary classical repertoire and championed the music of a wide variety of composers who wrote pieces specifically for her, including John Adams, Pierre Boulez, Gavin Bryars, John Harbison, Joan Huang, William Kraft, Veronika Krausas, Magnus Lindberg, Terry Riley and Steven Stucky, among many others.
Gloria Cheng also works in the Los Angeles music scene as one of the most-requested session players for film music recordings. She performed virtuoso parts on the score for The Matrix (1999), composed by Don Davis. Then in 2005 she caught the attention of John Williams, when the composer asked her to perform a piano solo part for the end credits piece on the score of Steven Spielberg’s Munich. In 2011, Williams again gave Cheng a prominent part, a virtuosic solo piano on the score for The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn in the track called “Snowy’s Theme”: