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Brinton Smith, Cello; Florin Parvulescu, Violin; Evelyn Chen, Piano
October 17, 2023
Brinton Smith, Cello; Florin Parvulescu, Violin; Evelyn Chen, Piano

Ernest Chausson: Poème, Op.25

Maurice Ravel: Alborada del gracioso

Jules Massenet: Méditation, from the Opera Thaïs

Maurice Ravel: Piano Trio in A Minor

Praised by New York Newsday for “extraordinary musicianship…forceful, sophisticated and entirely in the spirit of the music,” American cellist Brinton Averil Smith’s performances have elicited rave reviews around the world, praising virtuosic performances and musical ideals rooted in the golden age of string playing.

Critics have hailed American cellist Brinton Averil Smith as a “virtuoso cellist with few equals,” describing him as “a proponent of old-school string playing such as that of Piatigorsky and Heifetz.” His debut recording of Miklós Rózsa’s Concerto with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra won international critical acclaim, with Gramophone praising Smith as a “hugely eloquent, impassioned soloist,” Of his most recent live recording of the revival of the Castelnuovo-Tedesco Cello Concerto for Naxos, BBC Music magazine wrote “his is a cast iron technique of verve and refinement put entirely at the service of the music.. The artistry on display here is breathtaking.” Mr. Smith has collaborated in chamber music performances with Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, Emanuel Ax, Gil Shaham, James Ehnes, Sarah Chang, and Dawn Upshaw and his performances have been broadcast throughout the world including, in the US, on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s Performance Today and Symphonycast. His live performances on YouTube have been viewed over a million times, including over 250,000 views of an encore of Paganini’s 24th Caprice. Mr. Smith has been the principal cellist of the Houston Symphony since 2005 and is also a faculty member of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and the Aspen Music Festival. He was previously a member of the New York Philharmonic and the principal cellist of the San Diego and Fort Worth symphonies. At age 10, Mr. Smith was admitted part-time to Arizona State University, studying mathematics, music, and German, and he completed a B.A. in mathematics at age 17. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees from Juilliard, studying with renowned cellist Zara Nelsova and writing on the playing of Emanuel Feuermann.

Vioinist Florin Parvulescu was born in 1971 in Bucharest, Romania. He started playing the violin at the age of six at the Georges Enescu music school. In 1978, he attended the Juilliard School Pre-College division, studying with Shirley Givens.

By 1989, Florin Parvulescu went on to study at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where his principal teachers were Sylvia Rosenberg and Herbert Greenberg. He also worked closely with pianist Leon Fleisher and violinist Berl Senofsky.

In addition to earning bachelor’s and Artist Diploma degrees at Peabody, Mr. Parvulescu was awarded numerous prizes, among them the Marbury Award and Yale Gordon Award.

From 1996 to 1998 Florin Parvulescu was a member of the St. Louis Symphony. In 1998, he joined the San Francisco Symphony. He is currently serving as Artistic Director of the Tateuchi Institute of Music, an annual festival and workshop in Mountain View, California, now in its fifth year.

As soloist and chamber musician Mr. Parvulescu has appeared in recital series at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Dame Myra Hess recital series in Chicago, Aspen Music Festival, Berkeley Chamber Music Series, Johanessen International School of the Arts in Victoria British Columbia, San Francisco Symphony Chamber Music Series, Chamber Music Series St. Louis, Heidelberg, Germany, and Fontainebleau, France, and as a soloist with the Xiamen Philharmonic in 2009 and 2010. He has performed in chamber music concerts with pianists Kiril Gerstein and Anton Nel and performed Thomas Ades’s Piano Quintet with the composer at the piano.

Mr. Parvulescu has given masterclasses at the Beijing Conservatory and taught at the Singapore International Violin Festival in 2018. He was featured on the McGraw Hill Young Artist Showcase on WQXR radio NY, National Public Radio, WFMT Chicago, and King FM in Seattle. The San Francisco Chronicle has praised him for his “gleaming tone and pyrotechnics.”

The New York Times hailed Evelyn Chen as “a pianist to watch,” praising her “brilliant technique, warm, clear tone, and exacting musical intelligence.” Ms. Chen’s recent engagements have included performances on five continents at venues including David Geffen Hall and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, Symphony Hall in Boston, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, Wolf Trap near Washington DC, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the National Concert Hall in Taipei, the Cultural Center of Hong Kong, the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, among others.

A Steinway Artist, Ms. Chen has performed with numerous orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Symphony Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony, the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, the New Zealand Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, and the State Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, and has collaborated with renowned conductors including Riccardo Muti, Leonard Slatkin, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Zdenek Macal, Joseph Silverstein, and JoAnn Falletta.

Ms. Chen’s recordings have received international critical acclaim. Her recording of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with Leonard Slatkin and the Philharmonia Orchestra for Sony/BMG was among the top ten best-selling classical recordings in the UK. Ms. Chen’s recording of Miklós Rózsa’s Piano Concerto with James Sedares and the New Zealand Symphony for Koch International Classics also received rave reviews, including the Gramophone Awards issue which proclaimed her a “dazzlingly secure, marvelously sympathetic exponent” of the concerto.

Ms. Chen has been featured on the CBS Evening News, and her performances have been broadcast across the United States, as well as throughout Taiwan and Great Britain (Classic FM). She has collaborated in chamber music with violinists Cho-Liang Lin and Frank Huang, cellists Brinton Averil Smith and Leslie Parnas, violist James Dunham, pianist Charles Wadsworth, and members of the New York Philharmonic, the Dallas and Houston Symphonies, and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. While touring Asia as a soloist with the Harvard Orchestra, Ms. Chen performed before prominent dignitaries including the Princess of Thailand and the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

A winner of several international competitions, Ms. Chen is the recipient of Juilliard’s Petschek Award, which awarded her a fully sponsored New York debut recital at Alice Tully Hall. She is also the First Prize Winner of the Mieczyslaw Munz International Competition and the Grand Prize Winner of the Piano Guild International Recording Competition. As the youngest competitor at the age of fourteen, Ms. Chen captured the First Prize in the Bach International Competition in Washington DC.

Ms. Chen received a Bachelor of Arts in composition, Magna Cum Laude with Highest Honors, from Harvard University, a Master of Music from the New England Conservatory, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the Juilliard School. Her teachers include pianists Russell Sherman, Earle Voorhies, and Jerome Lowenthal, and composer Leon Kirchner. She is currently Associate Professor of Piano at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City, and a co-founder of the Moody Mansion Music in Galveston, Texas. She resides in Houston with her husband, cellist Brinton Averil Smith, and daughter, Calista.