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Princeton University Concerts Announces 2014-15 Season

April 3, 2014

Season Opens September 19 With The Takács String Quartet and Meryl Streep

Princeton University Concerts ("PUC") is pleased to announce the details of its 2014-15 concert season.  The 2014-15 season is particularly special because it clearly reflects the core values and mission of PUC: excellence; discovery; innovation and community.

Twelve performers will make their PUC debuts next year. They range from countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, a Princeton alumnus and a rising star in the world of vocal performance, to Marc-Andre Hamelin, one of the great pianists of our time.  The season is dotted with what we are calling "Musical Dream Teams," artistic collaborations whose sums are even greater than their renowned parts. Georgian violin virtuoso Lisa Batiashvili joins the thoughtful English pianist Paul Lewis for a rare duo appearance. Superstar mandolinist Chris Thile, whose sold-out show was a highlight of 2013, will return to perform with another genre-bending musician, bassist Edgar Meyer.  Determined to push the boundaries of "chamber music" and to explore all facets of music's transformative potential, PUC brings yet another event happening only at Princeton. The Takács String Quartet will join actor Meryl Streep, reading from Philip Roth's novella Everyman, in a program that explores music, death, and the meaning of life. This unique collaboration brings together some of the most brilliant and creative interpretive artists of our time.  After a few seasons of searching for the perfect wind ensemble to bring to the Richardson stage, we are pretty sure we've found it. The winds of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will play Mozart's Gran Partita, a sublime piece that has been likened to "hearing the voice of God." Following the concert will be a jaw-dropping opportunity for amateur musicians of all ages and abilities to join the CSO musicians on stage to read a symphony: another great late-night chamber jam!  Building on the success of this season's "Meet The Music" series, our first offering for kids and their families, PUC will again offer two programs featuring renowned musicians from The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center with host Bruce Adolphe. 

All 15 of the PUC programs next season reflect a deep commitment to making the world's best chamber music accessible and affordable with ticket prices starting at just $5.  No other music series in the region can boast the quality of offerings at such affordable prices.  All performances are presented in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, renowned for its exceptional acoustics and considered one of the best venues for classical music in the country.  Committed to engaging with our audience, we always invite audiences to come early for pre-concert lectures given by renowned musical scholars like Princeton Professor Scott Burnham and musical previews by Princeton students and to stay late for post-concert "Talk Backs" and receptions with the artists.  Subscriptions are now on sale for the 2014-2015 season.  Flexible subscription packages make it easier to subscribe.  If available, single tickets will go on sale Tuesday, September 2.  For more information, contact the PUC office at 609-258-2800.

Speaking about the upcoming season, Princeton University Concerts Director Marna Seltzer said:  "I am so proud of the way the series has evolved over the last few seasons.  We now have a loyal and committed audience that brings together both campus and community.  And we are offering programs that have the potential to transcend the ordinary and move people through music, our ultimate goal.  We continue to take chances and expand the boundaries of classical music presentation.  The 2014-2015 does this and more.  I encourage everyone to come try us out."

THE 2014-2015 SEASON
(Organized by series, then chronologically)

The cornerstone of the PUC season, offered as a series of 8 Thursday nights, features the pillars of classical music performed by today's most renowned artists.  All concerts take place on Thursday nights in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, unless otherwise noted.

*indicates Princeton University Concerts debut

Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 8pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall

HAYDN  Quartet in G Major, Op. 33, No. 5
BEETHOVEN  Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op. 95 "Serioso"
RAVEL  Quartet in F Major

Even "Dream Teams" must weather the retirement of a superstar.  After 35 years of incomparable artistry with David Finckel, the Emerson Quartet has drafted a "young phenom" -- 44-year-old superstar cellist Paul Watkins, Music Director of the English Chamber Orchestra and longtime member of The Nash Ensemble of London. In Duke University's The Thread, Watkins said his decision to join the multi-Grammy Award-winning Quartet was due to "the extraordinary verve and vigor of their playing, which is incredibly infectious -- you just get swept up in it. These guys are absolute masters of their instruments, with phenomenally high standards." Just as important, however is the "real unanimity of thought" that characterizes this superlative group. The Emerson Quartet has had a long association with Princeton University Concerts. This will be its first appearance on the series as this brand-new veteran "Dream Team."

Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 8pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall

HAYDN  Quartet in F Minor, Op. 20, No. 5, HOB III:35
SCHUMANN Quartet in A Major, Op. 41, No. 3
plus a surprise mix of jazz standards

"Someday My Prince Will Come" says the Disney song. He will indeed, on November 6, and he's bringing three other princes with him.  They are the virtuosos of the Ébène Quartet, Frenchmen known for moving seamlessly and with élan between classical and jazz ("Jazzical"?), enriching performances of each with the magic of the other. "A string quartet that can easily morph into a jazz band," lauded The New York Times, and in praising their recent Carnegie Hall performance of a Schumann Quartet, The Times said the finale "took on a decidedly jazzy swing." The Boston Globe hails the Quartet's non-classical fare as "exciting and ear-opening." With the second half of the Princeton program devoted to jazz, audiences might hear some Miles Davis or, in a nod to a local boy, a moving take on Bruce Springsteen's Streets of Philadelphia, performed with instrumental majesty and surprisingly princely vocals.

Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 8pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall

DVORAK  Four Romantic Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 75
ENESCU  Impressions d'enfance for Violin and Piano, Op. 28
TCHAIKOVSKY Melodies for Violin and Piano
FRANCK  Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major

Violinist Isabelle Faust founded a string quartet when she was 11 years old, which may explain why she learned so early on that in chamber music, listening to your partners is just as important as expressing your own personality. For more than a decade she has been listening closely to her duo partner, pianist Alexander Melnikov.  "It's quite rare to find anybody else who's as inspiring over such a long period of time," Faust said of their longevity. "This regular duo work has been a very important part of our musical development over quite some years -- we are both constantly being enriched by each other's ideas, questions and researches, criticism or experiences, while always deeply admiring the other's musicianship and mastery." Says Melnikov, "The first time I heard Isabelle's Bach I fell in love with her playing. It was exactly what I wanted to hear in this music and for most music it's still the case." The duo won a Grammy nomination for their 2010 recording of the Beethoven Sonatas for Violin and Piano. Always striving to capture the performance style of a composer's time, the sensitive pair studied Beethoven's original manuscripts of the sonatas. "With Beethoven you read his diaries, letters and sketchbooks," said the pianist, who was moved to tears by them. "You can actually see a theme in the process of being born. You see how he constantly improved it -- there were five or six variants -- and finally you get it. It's really heartbreaking to look at."

Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 8pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall

Serenade No. 12 for Winds in C Minor, K. 388 ("Nacht Musique")
Serenade No. 10 for 12 Winds and String Bass in B-flat Major, K. 361 ("Gran Partita")

Thirteen magnificent musicians -- wind players of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra -- are coming to play one of Mozart's most sublime works, rarely performed at this supreme level of artistry. Here's how Amadeus playwright Peter Schaffer depicted composer Antonio Salieri recalling his reaction the first time he heard the Gran Partita: "Suddenly... an oboe, a single note, hanging there unwavering, till a clarinet took over and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! ...This was a music I'd never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing, it had me trembling. It seemed to me that I was hearing a voice of God." Following the concert will be a jaw-dropping opportunity for amateur musicians of all ages and levels to join the CSO musicians on stage to sight-read a symphony: another great late-night chamber jam!

Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 8pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall

MOZART  Sonata No. 18 in D Major, K. 576
HAMELIN  Chaconne
DEBUSSY  Images, Book Two
SCHUBERT  Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960

I am not aware of a greater marriage of intellect and sensuality," Canadian-born Marc-André Hamelin once said of the music of Claude Debussy. Fittingly, the pianist himself has been praised in The New Yorker for "monstrously brilliant technique and his questing, deep-thinking approach;" Alex Ross also called Hamelin's hands "among the wonders of the musical world." You might expect one of the great pianists of our time to work his way through all the time-honored piano concertos, but Hamelin seems more interested in dark horses than warhorses, and delights in discovering works by such little-known composers as Georgy Catoire, Xaver Scharwenka and Sophie Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatte. In Princeton, he will play works spanning four centuries by composers of somewhat greater renown: Mozart, Schubert, Debussy... and Hamelin.

Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 8pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall

SCHUBERT  Sonata in A Major, Op. 162, D. 574 "Grand Duo"
SCHUBERT  Rondo in B Minor, Op. 70, D. 895 "Rondo Brilliant"
BACH  Sonata in E Minor, BWV 1023
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 10 in G Major, Op. 96

The mop-top musician to emerge from Liverpool most recently wasn't born until after the breakup of those other four famous Liverpudlians. Pianist Paul Lewis is winning worldwide acclaim as an interpreter of Schubert, and he's particularly interested in those works written between 1822, when the composer was diagnosed with syphilis, until his death from it in 1828 -- including the Op. 70 Rondo. "For me, it's the time when everything changed in his music; there's a different level of depth and darkness. People wonder whether there's something valedictory about his last sonata, but for me there's almost a sense of acceptance... there's not so much of a struggle anymore, just a sense of accepting your fate." Lewis, who didn't take up piano until age 12, learned about music at a local library, where he immersed himself in the recordings of the great Alfred Brendel, with whom he would later study. Ironically, it was Brendel who, after hearing Georgian-born Lisa Batiashvili perform in 2001, wrote, "Every note both sang and spoke... proving once more that great violinists reveal themselves at an early age." Batiashvili has observed, "There is nothing more exciting than attending a live performance and feeling every moment with the artists... I am constantly striving to find new ways of expressing what's within the music, and this helps to keep things fresh, new and exciting... It is our duty to let the music go through our bodies and souls, bringing it out in our own way and to our personal tastes...It is important to remain true to what one really feels."

Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 8pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall
MARTIN FRÓST*, Guest Clarinet

HAYDN            Symphony No. 83 in G Minor "La Poule"
COPLAND            Clarinet Concerto
JONNY GREENWOOD  Water (Princeton premiere)
MOZART            Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K. 201

Hip, refreshing and brilliant, the Australian Chamber Orchestra has been called "a badass classical band" by Time Out New York while The Washington Post hails them for combining "the energy and vibe of a rock band with the ability of a crack classical chamber group." Their instruments alone represent an all-star lineup, including the legendary 1743 Carrodus Guarneri del Gesù violin; the Carrodus made by del Gesù, called one of the four or five of the finest violins in the world; a 1759 Guadagnini; a 1728/9 Strad; and a 1729 Giuseppe Guarneri filius Andreæ cello. But it's the way these virtuosi play their extraordinary instruments that makes them a Dream Team. At Princeton they'll premiere Water by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, whose credits including scores for the films The Master and There Will Be Blood, for which he was hailed by Rolling Stone as "redefining what is possible in film scores." The Orchestra will also team up with a clarinetist some are saying may be the greatest of all time. "Fröst exhibited a virtuosity and a musicianship unsurpassed by any clarinetist -- perhaps any instrumentalist -- in my memory," gushed The New York Times. These will be blood-stirring performances.

Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 8pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall

Songs by Duparc, Britten, Liszt, Mozart, Handel, and Gershwin

The delightfully funny and engaging Princeton graduate Anthony Roth Costanzo will change your idea of countertenors when he returns to his Alma Mater to take the stage, now a "bona fide star," according to The New Yorker. While the major part of his repertoire consists of works written for castrati, Costanzo prefers to evoke Frankie Valle, the Bee Gees, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger and Prince as singers who employed their upper registers to no small advantage. Constanzo says he simply has a more reinforced, operatic style than they did. Rather than confine himself to the standard countertenor fare, Constanzo revels in branching out. "A recital provides a rare opportunity for me to explore my musical and artistic self," he tells us. "Unlike opera, art songs are less often written for a specific voice type, and thus are commonly transposed to fit a particular singer's tessitura. Duparc's lush and ardent filigree, Liszt's romantic and nuanced melodies -- these are joys I don't get to explore on the opera stage, but ones that have a unique resonance in the countertenor voice and to me personally. What I have learned in my opera career translates in fascinating and wonderful ways to the romantic repertoire, and even to songs by Gershwin." Singing "I Got Rhythm," this versatile artist might just tap dance his way into your heart.


Friday, September 19, 2014 at 7:30pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall

Readings from Philip Roth's novella Everyman interspersed with short works for string quartet by Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass and Schubert

Reading Phillip Roth's Everyman -- a story described by The New York Times as "a multi-divorced advertising man grappling with family estrangement, illness and death" -- Takács Quartet violinist Ed Dusinberre was struck by its "richly musical qualities." Dusinberre was reminded of Schubert's compelling rumination on his own mortality, Death and the Maiden. So, in an inspired concert at Carnegie Hall in 2007, the Takács paired a performance of the Schubert and moving works for string quartet by Philip Glass and Arvo Pärt with readings from Everyman read by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, including a conversation at a cemetery between the novel's protagonist and an affable gravedigger. Mr. Roth's casting choice for the Princeton concert is both inspired and inevitable: Meryl Streep. "Of all of our American acting marvels, she is the most profound," he told us. "To misappropriate a line from Othello, I would walk barefoot to Palestine to watch her perform."  We asked how the Princeton concert would differ from the previous one. "Since I have lengthened the narration for this performance," he said, "I think the audience will get a fuller sense of the book's preoccupation with assailability: with the accumulation of physical insults, the extinguishing of vitality, and the vulnerability inherent to living. The book is the story of a marked man. All are marked.  Death marks everyone. To my mind the gravest line written in English between Chaucer and Shakespeare is this one from the medieval morality play, Everyman: 'O Death, thou comest when I had thee least in mind.'" Responding to our question about his own deep connection to music, Mr. Roth replied, "The immediacy of the pleasure of music, its existence as a wholly other reality apart from the world of words, the way it fulfills some unknown need -- well, I will miss it sorely when I'm gone." Audiences really must not miss this unique collaboration among some of the most brilliant creative and interpretive artists of our time.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 7:30pm in Richarsdon Auditorium in Alexander Hall
No musician has done more to bridge the 19th Century's central European classical music tradition with the sounds of Appalachia today -- think Blue Danube to Bluegrass -- than composer and double bass magician Edgar Meyer.  Bassist on the Grammy-winning Appalachia Waltz and The Goat Rodeo Sessions (featuring Chris Thile), he has said that pleasing himself as a bass player is "a horrendous undertaking." He adds, "Even though I would not wish to make even an important part of my communication to be about the extreme sport of bass playing, I think the effort that it does take is part of the voice." Meyer has composed works for cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinists Joshua Bell and Hilary Hahn, the Emerson Quartet, and Grammy-winning mandolinist Thile, whose recent recital at Carnegie Hall (warm-up to his triumphant Princeton debut) was called "breathtaking," "revelatory," "poignant" and "exuberant" by The New York Times.  "Edgar is one of the biggest influences on my musical life, and now I'm in a duo with him and writing songs with him," says Thile. "This was my dream." The enthusiasm is mutual. "I can't think of another musician with his combination of abilities," said Meyer. "When Chris came on the scene, it was a wonderful feeling that the next generation was going to take things well beyond what we had imagined. Mandolin and Bass can be an excellent instrumentation. I like the way they interact dynamically and the way they contrast each other and don't get in each other's space." You be sure to get in their space at Richardson Auditorium.  These two MacArthur Fellows will cross traditional boundaries in a diverse program of largely original music.

MEET THE MUSIC -- two concerts for kids ages 6-12 and their families

Princeton University Concerts presents two concerts for kids ages 6 & up and their families played by musicians of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and hosted by Bruce Adolphe, Director of Family Programs at the Chamber Music Society.  With these concerts, PUC affirms its commitment to future audiences for classical music, and promises to introduce kids to the world of chamber music through the live concert experience.

Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 1pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall
"The Magical World of Maurice Ravel"

A young pianist who is struggling to play a piece by Ravel has a dream in which the composer himself appears and explains the musical mysteries of his magical-sounding piece.  Will the young pianist play better upon awakening?  Find out what happens -- and learn the secrets of Ravel's entrancing music.

March 21, 2015 at 1pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall
"Inspector Pulse Pops A String"

It's only when the wacky inspector breaks a piano string that he learns that pianos even have strings inside.  Who knew that?  How can we make so much music with just stretched strings?  Inspector Pulse gets a string of answers when he is visited by a string quartet.

Featuring music of Mozart, Beethoven, Bartók, and more.

Formed in 1994-95, this mixed ensemble comprises Princeton's Performance Faculty, distinguished guest artists, and supremely talented Princeton students. Richardson Chamber Players concerts take place on Sundays at 3pm in Richardson Auditorium.

Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 3pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall
"DIVINE WINDS," mixed chamber works by Mozart, Poulenc, and Giuliani

Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 3pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall
"RUSSIAN TREASURES," mixed chamber works by Rachmaninoff, Medtner, and

Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 3pm in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall
"PIERROT'S STAGE," mixed chamber works by Schoenberg and Biber


Concert Classics Series (the best deal)
8 Thursday night concerts, save up to 30%
A  $249, B  $199, C  $119

Richardson Chamber Players
3 Sunday afternoon performances.  All subscriptions are $39.  Or, add the three concerts to a Concert Classics subscription and pay just $24.

Meet The Music
2 concerts, save 20% off single ticket prices
Adults  $16  Kids $8

Choose 3 or more different concerts from all of our offerings and save 10% off the single ticket prices, includes all events except the opening night concert featuring the Takács String Quartet and Meryl Streep.  A la carte subscribers may purchase tickets to this concert before the general public. 


Add these concerts to Concert Classics Series subscription and receive a 20% discount off single ticket prices
Takács String Quartet and Meryl Streep
Chris Thile, Mandolin and Edgar Meyer, Bass

Subscriptions can be bought by calling the Concert Office at 609-258-2800.  The Concert Office is open Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm.  Subscription information can also be submitted online at


If available, most single tickets will go on sale on Tuesday, September 2, 2014. Tickets to our two special events (Takács Quartet with Meryl Streep (9/19) and Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer (10/9) will go on sale on August 1, 2014, online only.

For all questions, contact the Concert Office at 609-258-2800.
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Dasha (Darya) Koltunyuk
Phone:  609-258-6024