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The Playhouse Project Announces 2010 Elizabeth Brockman Awards In Music

Originally Posted: June 01, 2010

Laura Nikolich and Barbara Smith Conrad at the recent Elizabeth Brokman Awards. (Playhouse Project)

East Hampton - The Playhouse Project announced recipients of this year's Elizabeth Brockman Awards in Music. South Fork student musicians participated in the Playhouse Project Sixth Annual Master Class on May 27 and May 28, presented in association with Swiss Global Artistic Foundation. Playhouse Project Founders and Directors, Mirra Bank and Richard Brockman, are pleased to announce this year's award recipients.

Kyra Christopher, vocal soprano, age 15, Grade 9, Pierson High School, Suzanne Nicoletti, teacher.

Maxfield Panish, violin, age 15, Grade 10, East Hampton High School, Troy Grindle; Lazar Gosman, private teachers.

Christopher Beroes-Haigis, cello, age 15, Grade 10, Pierson High School, Eric Reynolds, teacher.

Davis King, violin, age 17, Grade 12, Southampton High School, Nancy Caine, teacher.

Devon T. Leaver, vocal, age 17, Grade 11, Ross School, Adam Judd, teacher.

Hannah Riley, vocal, age 16, Grade 11, East Hampton High School, David Douglas, teacher.

Gustave Clerin, piano, age 13, Grade 9, Home schooled, Madeleine Numa, teacher.

Vincenzo James Harty, age 11, Grade 6, Home schooled, Elana Connia, teacher.

Christine Stinchi, Geoffrey Simon and Barbara Smith Conrad.

Christopher and Panish will appear at the Sixth Annual Playhouse Project Benefit Concert and Reception with the internationally acclaimed violinist, Hahn-Bin, on Saturday, June 12 at 6 p.m. at The Playhouse, 64 Huntting Lane, East Hampton.

Tickets are $75. For more information go to 631-604-2852, or www.playhouseproject.org.

The Playhouse Project is a sponsored project of NYFA, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Awards are determined by the Master Class Panel, comprised of Geoffrey Simon; guest artists Barbara Smith Conrad, and Simon Powis; and Playhouse Project Directors, Mirra Bank and Richard Brockman. Awards for Excellence and for Promise each carry a prize of $1,000; Merit Awards carry a prize of $250. While Next Generation Awards do not carry a cash award, they recognize the talents of young artists between the ages of eight and 13, who are not yet eligible for competition.

The 2010 Master Class welcomed 41 High School and Middle School musicians, vocalists and composers, several of whom are home schooled. While Middle School students participate on a non-competitive basis, they also had the chance to work one-on-one with Maestro Simon, Barbara Smith Conrad and Simon Powis during both Thursday's and Friday's sessions.

Expanding on the format of previous sessions, this year's Master Class brought together two artists of international stature – Geoffrey Simon and Barbara Smith Conrad – to work in depth, and sometimes in tandem, with students on refinements of musicianship ranging from bowing technique to breathing. Highlights included Conrad's playful and profound physical work on breath control with young singers.

Both Conrad, and Australian guitarist, Simon Powis, performed for students and the Playhouse audience of parents, teachers, and fellow young musicians. Conrad's powerhouse mezzo soprano offerings of "Wade in the Water," "Give Me Jesus" (arranged by Hall Johnson), and Manuel de Falla's "Siete canciones populares españolas - #7, Polo" were riveting, as was Powis' "Rossiniana op 119" by Mauro Giuliani - a compilation of five Rossini opera themes, re-interpreted exquisitely on guitar.

The annual Master Class, open to all Middle School and High School students on the South Fork of Long Island, is led by distinguished conductor, Simon, who served as class leader for his fifth year. Maestro Simon works regularly in London with the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, and London Symphony Orchestras, and with many others worldwide. He is Artistic Director of the Swiss Global Artistic Foundation, Music Director Emeritus of the Northwest Mahler Orchestra in Seattle and has made over forty classical recordings, many for his own record label, Cala Records.

Maxfield Panish received a Promise Award.

Maestro Simon has had the opportunity to work with Master Class students over a period of years now, and he observed that "watching these youngsters mature into serious musicians is really joyous. Having even a small part in their progress is a privilege. At the same time, one of this year's winners, Kyra Christopher, is new to us. There's fresh talent being nurtured in the schools, and we see it emerging into the Playhouse Project. The format we've evolved is working well - we reach out to every school, to home schoolers, and get a good mixture of ages and disciplines. We are equally delighted by some very young, precocious music makers, who deserve to be heard. "

Guest artist, Conrad is a mezzo-soprano whose distinguished career has touched the lives of audiences around the world. She performed with the Metropolitan Opera for eight years, from 1982 to 1989, and has appeared in leading operatic roles with the Vienna State Opera, Teatro Nacional in Venezuela, the Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and numerous others. Under the direction of some of the world's leading conductors including Maazel, Bernstein, and Levine, she has performed much of the mezzo-soprano concert repertoire with the world's greatest orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the London, Boston, Cleveland, and Detroit Symphonies.

It was Conrad's first experience at the Playhouse. She praised the unique environment of the Master Class, which frees students to take risks. Everyone delighted in her "The Sky is Blue" body loosening exercise, involving a full head-down bend forward, and rapid arching upward, arms flung wide, to release breath from deep inside - "What I saw from them when it worked was the 'Aha!' moment. For those people who have the gift of sound, that's a great exercise!" Conrad was moved by "the openness and the trust of these young people. They feel protected here, knowing they will not be exposed in a negative way. It's an extraordinary ambience, with great purpose."

Guest artist, Australian classical guitarist, Powis, received his doctorate from Yale University this spring. He is the first classical guitarist in 27 years to do so. He has performed throughout the United States, Sweden, Belgium, England, Germany, Austria, Spain, Canada, Liechtenstein, and his home country, Australia.

A number of students were accompanied by Christine Cadarette, a classically trained pianist, and 16 year veteran of Broadway shows and touring musicals. She performed the new Alan Menken musical, "Leap of Faith," which will open on Broadway in February, 2011. An accomplished conductor, as well as performance coach in voice and instrumental work, she is locally based, and works with musicians of all ages.

Winning artists will perform at the concert on the same bill with dazzling 22-year old violinist, Hahn-Bin, winner of this year's First Prize at the YCA International Auditions.

Special protégé of the famed Itzhak Perlman, Hahn-Bin's New York debut at Carnegie's Zankel Hall, and his Washington debut at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, received rave reviews. In 2006, as a Juilliard student receiving mentorship from Swiss Global Artistic Foundation, Hahn-Bin performed for participants of the 2nd annual Playhouse Project Master Class. In 2010, he returns to The Playhouse as our featured Benefit Concert artist.

The Playhouse Project Master Class, open to all local music students, is offered to participants free of charge. We encourage parents, families, teachers, members of the public, and schoolmates to attend the Master Class sessions as our guests.

Updated: June 1, 2010, 12:20 pm
Appeared In: the arts >> top stories