Leonard Bernstein (Conducting ’41) Centenary Celebration

Leonard Bernstein at 100Curtis alumnus Leonard Bernstein left his mark on music around the world. This centenary tribute features the Zorá String Quartet, Curtis’s string quartet in residence; renowned alumni Dominic Armstrong, tenor and David Shifrin, clarinet; and the exciting young pianist Jiacheng Xiong. They offer chamber music and songs from a prodigiously gifted composer and conductor who traversed styles and genres with ease.

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CPresents Bernstein Centenary Celebration



BERNSTEIN                         Sonata for Clarinet and Piano 
BERNSTEIN                         Selected Songs
COPLAND                          Sextet for Piano, Clarinet, and String Quartet 
GERSHWIN                         Lullaby for String Quartet
BERNSTEIN,                        Selections from West Side Story               
arr. John B Hedges



One of only two wind players to have been awarded the Avery Fisher Prize since the award's inception in 1974, clarinetist David Shifrin is in constant demand as an orchestral soloist, recitalist, and chamber music collaborator.

Mr. Shifrin has appeared with the Philadelphia and Minnesota orchestra and the Dallas, Seattle, Houston, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Phoenix symphonies among many others; and internationally with orchestras in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. In addition, he has served as principal clarinetist with the Cleveland Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra (under Stokowski), the Honolulu and Dallas symphonies, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the New York Chamber Symphony. He continues to broaden the repertoire for clarinet and orchestra by commissioning and championing the works of American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Mr. Shifrin has also received critical acclaim as a recitalist, appearing at such venues as Alice Tully Hall, Weill Recital Hall and Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, and the 92nd Street Y in New York, as well as at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. A much sought-after chamber musician, he has collaborated frequently with such distinguished ensembles and artists as the Tokyo and Emerson String Quartets, Wynton Marsalis, and pianists Emanuel Ax and André Watts.

An artist member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 1989, Mr. Shifrin was its artistic director from 1992 to 2004. He has been the artistic director of Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Oregon since 1981 and is also the artistic director of the Phoenix Chamber Music Festival.

Mr. Shifrin joined the faculty at the Yale School of Music in 1987. He has also served on the faculties of the Juilliard School, University of Southern California, University of Michigan, Cleveland Institute of Music, and the University of Hawaii. In 2007 he was awarded an honorary professorship at China's Central Conservatory in Beijing. He is a 1971 graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music.

A winner of the 2013 George London Foundation Vocal Competition, Dominic Armstrong has quickly established himself as an artist of superb and distinguished musicality and characterization.

This season, Mr. Armstrong joins the Milwaukee Symphony for Bach’s Magnificat, and appears with both Los Angeles Opera and the Center for Contemporary Opera in a double bill of two Gordon Getty one-act operas, Usher House and The Canterville Ghost. Other recent appearances include Dayton Opera (Don José in Carmen), the Lansing Symphony (Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony), Beth Morrison Projects (Breaking the Waves), Russian National Orchestra (Britten’s War Requiem), Opera Colorado (Arthur Dimmesdale in the world premiere of The Scarlet Letter), Detroit Symphony Orchestra (Second Jew in Salome), and Chautauqua Opera (Alfredo in La traviata).

Mr. Armstrong created the roles of Haydn and the Bartender in the world-premiere performances of Jeremy Denk’s The Classical Style at the Ojai Festival, Cal Performances, and Carnegie Hall. He has appeared with the New York City Opera (Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw), Lyric Opera of Chicago (Steve in Andre Prévin’s A Streetcar Named Desire), Opera Memphis (The Husband in Les mamelles de Tirésias), Opera Philadelphia (First Jew in Salome, Flavio in Norma, and Borsa in Rigoletto), Chicago Opera Theatre (title role in La clemenza di Tito), Deutsche Oper Berlin (Parpignol in La bohème), Opera Regio Torino (Gran Sacerdote in Idomeneo, Reverend Adams in Peter Grimes, and Heinrich der Schreiber in Tannhaüser), Wexford Festival Opera (Count Almaviva in The Ghosts of Versailles), Wolf Trap Opera (title role in Candide and Ulisse in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria), and Musica Viva Hong Kong (Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore).

His orchestral appearances include the New York and Rochester philharmonics, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston, Oregon, and Waterbury symphonies,

Mr. Armstrong holds degrees from Truman State University, the Juilliard School, and the Curtis Institute of Music.

The Zorá String Quartet is in its second season as quartet in residence at the Curtis Institute of Music. In 2016–17, the quartet debuted with Curtis on Tour, gave recitals in New York and Washington, D.C. on the Young Concert Artists Series, and performed throughout the U.S. In 2017–18 the ensemble tours the United States with clarinetist David Shifrin and tenor Dominic Armstrong as part of Curtis on Tour; debuts at London’s Wigmore Hall and Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; and performs with violist Roberto Díaz and cellist Peter Wiley on the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society series.


The Zorá String Quartet won the grand prize and gold medal at the 2015 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition; first prize and several concert prizes at the 2015 Young Concert Artists International Auditions; and the Coleman National Chamber Music Competition. In 2016 the quartet participated in the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Encounters program, concluding with a performance at Alice Tully Hall, and appeared at Chamber Music Northwest and the Oregon Music Festival. The group has also participated in chamber music residencies at the Banff Centre (Canada); in the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (Connecticut); and in the Advanced Quartet Studies program of the Aspen Music Festival, where they worked intensively with Earl Carlyss, the Takács Quartet, the Pacifica Quartet, and the American String Quartet.


The Zorá String Quartet previously served as graduate quartet in residence at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, working with the Pacifica Quartet and Atar Arad. In 2014 the ensemble was string quartet in residence at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, Germany. The name “Zorá,” means “sunrise” in Bulgarian. The quartet's members are violinists Dechopol Kowintaweewat and Hsuan-Hao Hsu, violist Pablo Muñoz Salido, and cellist Zizai Ning. 

Jia Cheng Xiong, from Beijing, entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2011 and studies piano with Robert McDonald. All students at Curtis receive merit-based, full-tuition scholarships, and Mr. Xiong is the Wike Family Fellow.


During the 2014-15 season, Mr. Xiong performed Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Des Moines Symphony. He won first prize at the 2014 Korea International Competition for Young Pianists in Seoul, the American International Piano Competition in Asia Pacific Macau, and the Xiamen National-Youth Piano Competition. Mr. Xiong has also won second prize and audience favorite in the Viseu International Piano Competition and second prize in the Cleveland International Piano Competition. Most recently he was awarded third prize at the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation's New York International Piano competition.


Mr. Xiong has attended the Aspen Music Festival and School, was featured on National Public Radio's From the Top, and has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and Cortot Hall in Paris. At age 12, he was invited to perform at the Luxembourg and Norway embassies. Mr. Xiong previously studied at the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music.


 The Curtis Presents season is sponsored by Blank Rome LLP.