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.

CPresents Bernstein



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, Mr. Shifrin is in constant demand as an orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber music collaborator.


Mr. Shifrin has appeared with the Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras and the Dallas, Seattle, Houston, Milwaukee, Detroit and Phoenix symphonies among many others in the US, 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 New York Chamber Symphony. 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 City as well as at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. A much sought after a 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, David Shifrin served as its artistic director from 1992 to 2004. He has toured extensively throughout the US with CMSLC and hosted and performed in several national television broadcasts on PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center. 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.


David Shifrin joined the faculty at the Yale School of Music in 1987 and was appointed Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Society of Yale and Yale's annual concert series at Carnegie Hall in September 2008. 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.


Mr. Shifrin's recordings on Delos, DGG, Angel/EMI, Arabesque, BMG, SONY, and CRI have consistently garnered praise and awards. He has received three Grammy nominations and his recording of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, performed in its original version on a specially built elongated clarinet, was named Record of the Year by Stereo Review. Both his recording of the Copland Clarinet Concerto and a 2008 recording of Leonard Bernstein's Clarinet Sonata with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott have been released on iTunes via Angel/EMI and Deutsche Grammophon. His latest recordings are Shifrin Plays Schifrin (Aleph Records), a collection of clarinet works by composer/conductor Lalo Schifrin, and the Beethoven, Bruch and Brahms Clarinet Trios with cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han on the ArtistLed label.


Mr. Shifrin continues to broaden the repertoire for clarinet and orchestra by commissioning and championing the works of 20th and 21st century American composers including, among others, John Adams, Joan Tower, Stephen Albert, Bruce Adolphe, Ezra Laderman, Lalo Schifrin, David Schiff, John Corigliano, Bright Sheng and Ellen Zwilich.

In addition to the Avery Fisher Prize, David Shifrin is the recipient of a Solo Recitalists' Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, an Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Concert Artist Guild Virtuoso Award in 2016. He was given an Honorary Membership by the International Clarinet Society in 2014 in recognition of lifetime achievement and at the outset of his career, he won the top prize at both the Munich and the Geneva International Competitions.

Mr. Shifrin performs on a MoBA cocobolo wood clarinet made by Morrie Backun in Vancouver, Canada and makes his home in Connecticut.

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


This season, Dominic Armstrong returns to Dayton Opera as Don José in Carmen and to the Lansing Symphony for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Last season, Dominic traveled to Russia to perform Britten’s War Requeim with the Russian National Orchestra and subsequently performed in a series of concerts, collaborating with Craig Rutenberg. He also made his company debut with Opera Colorado as Arthur Dimmesdale in the anticipated world premiere of The Scarlet Letter, sang the Second Jew in Salome with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and performed in recital with the Brooklyn Art Song Society. During the summer of 2016, Mr. Armstrong performed the role of Alfredo in La traviata with Chautauqua Opera.


Mr. Armstrong began the 2014-2015 season debuting the roles of Haydn and the Bartender in the world premiere performances of The Classical Style at the Ojai Festival, Cal Performances, and Carnegie Hall, and debuted with both On Site Opera and The Phoenecia International Festival of the Voice in a co-production of Frédéric Chaslin’s new opera Clarimonde. He also made his debut with Dayton Opera as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, returned to Opera Memphis as The Husband in Les mamelles de Tirésias, and joined Ash Lawn Opera as Freddy in its summer production of My Fair Lady. On the concert stage, he appeared with the Brooklyn Art Song Society in recital, sang Lawrence Siegel’s Kaddish with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and sang the Verdi Requiem with the Waterbury Symphony.


During the 2013-2014 season, Mr. Armstrong debuted with the New York Philharmonic, in acclaimed performances of Britten’s Spring Symphony, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert. The tenor essayed his first performance of Cavaradossi in Tosca with the Northwest Indiana Symphony, and sang the First Jew in Salome with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, as well as the Third Jew in performances of the same opera with the Boston Symphony. Additionally, Mr. Amstrong appeared in holiday concerts with the Oregon Symphony; in recital with the Brooklyn Art Song Society; in Mozart’s Requiem with the Lansing Symphony; with both the Symphony in C and Princeton Symphony for Britten’s Serenade; and in recital with Christine Brewer and Craig Rutenberg, under the auspices of the George London Foundation.


In the 2012-13 season, Dominic Armstrong returned to New York City Opera to sing Peter Quint in their production of The Turn of the Screw, followed by his debuts with Carnegie Hall and Lyric Opera of Chicago, as Steve in Andre Prévin’s A Streetcar Named Desire. He closed the season premiering two new operas: La Reina with American Lyric Theater and The Blind with American Opera Projects.


Having been seen in Chicago Opera Theatre’s Moscow, Cheryomushki (Opera News called his performance of Sergei a “honeyed account”), Mr. Armstrong’s 2011-2012 season also included his Memphis Opera debut as Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus and a return to Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Festival to cover Don José and perform the role of Le Remendado in Carmen. These assignments marked the artist’s fourth season with the festival, where he has also been seen as Macheath in Britten’s The Beggar’s Opera, Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw, Le Petit Vieillard in L’enfant et les sortilèges, and Luigi in Il Tabarro.


Previous seasons have found Mr. Armstrong performing with companies such as: Opera Company of Philadelphia as Flavio in Norma and Borsa in Rigoletto; NYCO as François/Jazz Trio in A Quiet Place; Chicago Opera Theatre in the title role in La Clemenza di Tito; Deutsche Oper Berlin as Parpignol in La Bohème; Opera Regio Torino as the Gran Sacerdote in Idomeneo; Reverend Adams in Peter Grimes; and Heinrich der Schreiber in Tannhaüser Wexford Festival Opera for Count Almaviva in Ghosts of Versailles; Wolf Trap Opera as Candide alongside Jason Alexander in Candide and as Ulisse in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria; and Musica Viva Hong Kong for Nemorino in L’Elisir d’amore.


An avid recitalist, Mr. Armstrong has maintained frequent performances of recital repertoire as well. Recent recitals have included the collected songs of Duparc with soprano Susanna Phillips, as well as performances of Brahms’ Die Schöne Magelone, and the Twickenham Festival, in a program featuring On Wenlock Edge, and To Julia. He has also been a participant of the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago.


Mr. Armstrong’s numerous prizes and awards include being one of the Grand Finalists in the 2008 National Council Auditions with the Metropolitan Opera, a 2013 George London Foundation Winner, the SAI Vocal Competition, Gold Medal Aria Competition (Truman State University), The Sullivan Awards, Lucrezia Bori Grant, Opera Index, Gerda Lissner Award, The William Boldyga and and Betty Myers Incentive Award from Annapolis Opera, NATS State and Regional winner, and he was the 2009 winner of the Liederkranz Art Song Competition. He holds degrees from Truman State University, The Juilliard School, and The Curtis Institute.

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.