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The Berkshire High Peaks Festival welcomes some of the most esteemed artists in the performance world today.

Yehuda Hanani
Yehuda Hanani
Cello and Artistic Director
Named “one of the most polished performers of the post-Starker generation and a consistently expressive artist.” by The New York Times, Yehuda Hanani’s charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and reengagements across the globe. He has won wide international acclaim as soloist, chamber musician and inspiring pedagogue, who joined the faculty at the Mannes School in New York City this year. His concerto appearances have been with the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Irish National Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, Taipei and Seoul symphonies among many other orchestras, and he has toured with I Solisti de Zagreb, conducting from the cello. A frequent guest at Aspen, Bowdoin, Chautauqua, Yale at Norfolk, Great Lakes, Casals Prades, Finland Festival, Ottawa, Oslo, Round Top Institute, Manchester, and the Australia Chamber Music festivals, he has collaborated in performances with preeminent fellow musicians, including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Itzhak Perlman, Vadim Repin, Julian Rachlin, Dawn Upshaw, Yefim Bronfman, Eliot Fisk, the Tokyo, Vermeer, Muir, Escher, Ariel, Colorado, and Manhattan quartets. His recording of the monumental Alkan Cello Sonata received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination, and on CD and in live performances, he has given premières of works of Nikolai Miaskovsky, Lukas Foss, Leo Ornstein, Paul Schoenfield, Thea Musgrave, Joan Tower, Eduard Franck, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Tamar Muskal, Virgil Thomson, William Perry and Pulitzer Prize winners Bernard Rands and Zhou Long. In New York City, he has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, and the Metropolitan Museum. Among the early designers and proponents of thematic programming, his engaging chamber music with commentary series, Close Encounters With Music, has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Detroit, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City. A three-time recipient of the Martha Baird Rockefeller grant, Mr. Hanani's studies were with Leonard Rose at Juilliard and with Pablo Casals. He has inspired scores of cellists as Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and previously served on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory. Artistic director of Berkshire High Peaks Festival, he presents master classes internationally at conservatories and for orchestras, including the Juilliard School, University of Indiana at Bloomington, New England Conservatory, McGill University, Paris Conservatoire, Berlin Hochschule für Music, Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School in London, Tokyo National University, Jerusalem Academy of Music, the Central Conservatories in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, and the New World Symphony in Miami. In recognition of his distinguished teaching, he was given the title of honorary professor of the Tianjin Conservatory, China. His objective is to instill a sense of wonder and adventure in young musicians, to lead them to technical mastery and bridge tradition with innovation.

"One of the most polished performers of the post-Starker generation and a consistently expressive artist..."
-- The New York Times

Annie Brooks, piano

Pianist Annie Brooks enjoys a varied and exciting career as a chamber musician, solo recitalist and opera coach. Passionate and engaged in the chamber music community, Brooks has performed with the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, notably their Premieres! series, which features premieres and commissions from composers all over the world. Brooks’ work with her fellow artists has led her to performances from Seattle to Fort Worth, and New York to North Carolina. Working with a vast array of ensembles, she has taken part in the Marrowstone Summer Music Festival, the Mimir Chamber Music Festival, Piccolo Spoleto, and Providence Chamber Music Series in Charlotte. Brooks regularly plays orchestral piano with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and is currently the pianist for the Charlotte Symphony Choruses. Equally as dedicated to vocal repertoire and opera, she has worked as a coach and pianist with Wolf Trap Opera, Stony Brook Opera, the Occasional Opera Company, Aspen Opera Theater Center, North Carolina Opera, Opera Carolina and Fort Worth Opera. Her affinity for complex and contemporary operas has led to her participation a variety of premieres and workshops, including the premiere of David Brooks’ opera Urban Legend, and the Double Exposure project with Opera Philadelphia in May 2018. Hailing from Seattle, Washington, Brooks received her Bachelor of Music degree magna cum laude from Western Washington University, and a Master of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from Stony Brook University. She is Assistant Professor of Collaborative Piano at Wingate University, where she gathers colleagues from around the country to collaborate as guest artists on Wingate University’s Recital and Concert Series.

Mikael Darmanie
Mikael Darmanie, piano
As a soloist, Mikael Darmanie has performed throughout the Americas, Europe, Russia and the Caribbean. Recent festival appearances have included: The Weil Institute at Carnegie, Trinity Wall Street, Prototype, Bang on a Can Marathon, Close Encounters With Music, Berkshire High Peaks Festival, Cape Cod Symphony Nth Degree, Pianofest in the Hamptons, the Mozarteum, Mainly Mozart, and L’Acadèmie de Musique de Sion, to name a few. As a member of the Warp Trio, he performs throughout the world in genres ranging from jazz to hip-hop, rock, fusion and electronic music. He DJs and teaches masterclasses and workshops to students of all levels kindergarten through university. Since his debut as a conductor with the Carolina Chamber Symphony in 2008, he has performed throughout the U.S., conducting various piano concerti from the keyboard and symphonic works. Also a composer, his works have been performed throughout the U.S. and Europe. A former New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, he currently pursues a P.H.D. at SUNY Stony Brook under the guidance of Gilbert Kalish and teaches undergraduate piano and music history and theory. 

DeYeon Kim
DoYeon Kim, cello
A native of South Korea, cellist DoYeon Kim has won first prize in the Adrian Boyer Competition, the 34th Music Education Journal Competition and the Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians Madura Scholarship Competition.  She has performed as a soloist with the Bayview Music Festival Orchestra and Acronym Baroque and has been a guest performer with the chamber series Close Encounters With Music in Great Barrington. International summer festivals have included The Quartet Program, Bowdoin and Aspen. Kim completed her Bachelor’s degree in Cello Performance at the University of Cincinnati in the studio of Yehuda Hanani, a Master of Music degree in Cello Performance at the Eastman School of Music in the studio of Alan Harris and is now pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Cincinnati as a teaching assistant. An avid chamber musician, she has worked with members of the Ying, American, Shanghai, Ariel, and Cavani quartets, and is a member of the Dante Deo Trio which was founded at the Eastman School of Music in 2012 and Miclot Production chamber society based in New York City.  She recently made her New York debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall as first prize winner of the 2016 American Protege International Strings and Piano Competition. She has been a scholarship fellow and music coordinator of Berkshire High Peaks Music Festival since 2014 and now joins the faculty.
As an active chamber musician and recitalist, Sae Rom Kwon (Korea) has performed in Italy, Canada, South Korea, and the United States. Appearances include a performance at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in New York City, Eastman Chamber Music Society, Musica da Camera in Spoleto, Italy, and Buffalo Chamber Music. She has been featured as soloist with orchestras including the South Carolina Philharmonic, Wright State Symphony Orchestra, Wired String Orchestra and Millennium Sinfonietta. Starting with her come-back recital at Seoul Arts Center in 2013, she has appeared at major concert venues in Korea including Sejong Chamber Hall, Kumho Art Hall, IBK Chamber Hall, Ilshin Hall, Ceramic Palace Hall, Jeju Ara Muse Hall, and Perigee Hall. With special enthusiasm for chamber music, she is a prize-winner of the Coleman Chamber Music Competition and a recipient of the John Celentano Award (Excellence in Chamber Music) from Eastman School of Music. As a member of Animas Piano Trio, she won the Mendelssohn Fellowship 2013-2014. With this fellowship, her trio was engaged in various projects to promote chamber music in Korea, with David Finkel as Artistic Director. She also has diverse experience as an orchestral player, serving as principal cellist for Ohio Valley Symphony, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, and others. Dr. Kwon holds BM and MM degrees from Eastman School of Music where she served as a teaching assistant to Alan Harris. She received her DMA degree from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Yehuda Hanani. She served on the faculties of Murray State University, KY; the preparatory division of University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music; and the Starling Preparatory String Project. She has been a faculty member at summer festivals including Bowdoin, Tennessee Fine Arts Summer Academy, Jeju Music Festival, and Nami Island Cello Festival. Currently, she is a cello professor in the music department at Kangnam University, Korea.

Sae Rom Kwon, cello

During Jay Lesenger’s more than 40 year career as stage director, administrator and teacher, he has become known for intelligent, honest productions which are dramatically compelling and musically knowledgeable. Mr. Lesenger has produced and directed more than two hundred opera productions for the New York City Opera, Chautauqua Opera Company, Atlanta, Hawaii, Milwaukee, New Orleans (the world premiere of Thea Musgrave's "Pontalba"), Opera Carolina, Opera Pacific, Palm Beach, Pittsburgh, San Diego,Virginia and many others. His European debut was with Opera Nordfjord, Norway, and he has directed for Volkstheater Rostock in Germany. For 21 years, from 1994 to 2015, Jay was the General and Artistic Director of the Chautauqua Opera Company, the longest serving general director in the company’s history. As a nationally recognized teacher of acting for singers, he has taught on the School of Music opera faculties at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University as well as for the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. Jay has also staged productions for Mannes/The New School, the Manhattan School of Music, Julliard, Indiana University and the Academy of Vocal Arts. Jay is a frequent adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and other vocal competitions. He holds a Masters degree from Indiana University and a Bachelors of Music & Theater from Hofstra University. Upcoming: “River of Dreams” for Bridge Street Theater/Catskill and “The Ghosts of Versailles” for The Glimmerglass Festival/Cooperstown and The Royal Opera of Versailles.

Jay Lesenger, opera conductor
and stage director

Praised by the Boston Globe as “not just a virtuoso, but an artist,” Romanian violinist Irina Muresanu has won the hearts of audiences and critics alike with her exciting, elegant and heartfelt performances of the classic, romantic and modern repertoire. She achieved early international acclaim as an outstanding young soloist, recitalist and chamber musician winning top prizes in several prestigious international violin competitions including the Montreal, Queen Elizabeth, Pro Musicis, Presser Music Award, and the Arthur Foote Award from the Harvard Musical Association. Recent solo engagements include appearances with the Boston Pops, Miami Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (Geneva), Syracuse Symphony, Metropolitan Orchestra (Montreal), the Transvaal Philharmonic (Pretoria, S. Africa), Romanian National Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Radio Flamande (Brussels), and the Boston Philharmonic. In 2013, Muresanu introduced her “Four Strings Around the World” project, a solo violin recital featuring works of composers inspired by various musical cultures around the world. In November 2015 she received a Creative and Performing Arts Award from the University of Maryland that will allow the commissioning of new works for this project. Her recent recording releases include the Thomas Oboe Lee’s Violin Concerto (dedicated to Ms. Muresanu) on the BMOP label and the complete William Bolcom Violin and Piano Sonatas on the Centaur label with pianist Michael Lewin. An active chamber musician and recitalist, Ms. Muresanu is a member of the Boston Trio. Festival appearances have included Bay Chambers and Bowdoin in Maine, Strings in the Mountains and San Juan Music Festival in Colorado, Maui Chamber Music Festival in Hawaii, Festival van de Leie in Belgium, and the Renncontres des Musiciennes Festival in France. Irina Muresanu currently serves on the faculty the University of Maryland and Boston Conservatory and has taught in the Harvard and MIT music departments. She received an Artist Diploma degree and a Doctor in Musical Arts degree from the New England Conservatory. She plays an 1849 Giuseppe Rocca violin and an Etienne Pajeot bow.

Irina Muresanu, violin

Alexander Shtarkman’s debut recitals in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City prompted strong words of praise from audiences and critics alike. Martin Bernheimer wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Alexander Shtarkman. Remember the name… He plays the piano with all the strength, flash and eagerness that his age would suggest. He also plays with the sensitivity and mellow refinement one associates with certain grand old men of the keyboard, most of them Russian.” James Keller of The New Yorker staff wrote of Mr. Shtarkman’s 92nd Street Y appearance - “Shtarkman’s was a debut recital of importance. In fact, debuts just don’t come much better than this. Of the young pianists currently entering the international spotlight, Shtarkman is unquestionably among the most musicianly.” Recital appearances in the United States include the Ambassador Foundation, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Tisch Center for the Performing Arts, Ravinia Festival’s Rising Stars Series, San Francisco Performances, Regional Arts Foundation at the Kravis Center, The Peace Center and Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Orchestral appearances include the Dallas Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Fort Worth Chamber Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta at Orchestra Hall, Northwood Festival Orchestra, Marin Symphony and the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque In August 1995, Mr. Shtarkman was awarded the First Prize of the Busoni International Piano Competition in Bolzano, Italy. As a result of this prize, he was offered over sixty recitals and orchestral engagements in Europe within the following seasons. Shtarkman is a major prizewinner of the 1989 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and the 1994 Tchaikovsky Piano Competition. He won the First Prize of the First Taipei International Piano Competition and was engaged for numerous concerts throughout Asia. Mr. Shtarkman performs extensively in Europe and Asia, South and North America, Russia and the former Republics of the USSR. He is a frequent guest performer at the prestigious Great and Small Halls of the Moscow Conservatory. Since 2002 Mr. Shtarkman has been on the Piano Faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

Pierre Henri Xuereb
Alexander Shtarkman, piano

Pierre Henri Xuereb
Michael Strauss, viola
Known for his “rich tone and lyrical acumen” (Chicago Tribune), violist Michael Isaac Strauss has performed around the world as a soloist, recitalist, in chamber music, and in symphonic settings. His love for the intimate concert setting has led to performances on concert series, live radio broadcasts, and festival appearances across Europe, North America, and Asia. A former member of the distinguished Fine Arts Quartet, Strauss made several European and domestic tours with them, as well as a critically acclaimed recording of Mozart’s complete viola quintets on the Lyrinx label. He is a founding member of the new Indianapolis Quartet, in residence at the University of Indianapolis since 2016, where he also serves on the faculty. Strauss has also taught at Youngstown State University’s Dana School of Music since 2016 and is the violist for the Dana Piano Quartet, in residence at Youngstown State University. Strauss’ solo work is featured on several CDs—the debut recording of Jennifer Higdon’s Viola Sonata, David Finko’s Viola Concerto, Stamitz’s works for solo viola with orchestra (Centaur), and the Suzuki Viola School CDs, Volumes 8 and 9. He has also recorded chamber works by living composers with the Philadelphia-based Orchestra 2001, the complete string quintets by Mozart with the Fine Arts Quartet, and he recently released Wordless Verses (Naxos)—trio works inspired by poetry for oboe, viola, and piano with the Jackson Trio. Strauss was principal violist of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for 20 years and has served on the faculty of several prominent schools including Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, and Swarthmore College. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and performs on a viola attributed to Matteo Albani of Bolzano, Italy in 1704.
“It’s not often that a fortunate operagoer witnesses the birth of a star!” critics hailed Danielle Talamantes’ recent role début as Violetta in La traviata. This season, Talamantes sings Mimì in La bohéme with Fairfax Symphony and returns to The Metropolitan Opera to sing Frasquita for their productions of Carmen. In addition, she will appear as a soloist in multiple classical masterworks including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at Carnegie Hall, Verdi’s Requiem with the National Philharmonic, Fauré’s Requiem and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with Eugene Concert Choir, and in the National Philharmonic’s Bernstein Choral Celebration concert. In recent seasons, Talamantes performed the role of Marzelline in Beethoven’s Fidelio with the Princeton Festival; Mimì in La bohéme with the St. Petersburg (FL) Opera and Symphony of Northwest Arkansas; the title role of Susannah with Opera Roanoke; Anna in Nabucco and Frasquita in Carmen with The Metropolitan Opera; Violetta in La traviata with Finger Lakes Opera and Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at Cedar Rapids Opera Theater; a début at Spoleto Festival USA as Sergente in Veremonda. Additional concert works include “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman!” with Close Encounters With Music in Great Barrington and at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts; Mozart’s Requiem with Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Cathedral Choral Society, and Fairfax Symphony; Brahms’ Requiem with National Philharmonic, Choralis and St. Mary’s College; Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas brasileiras No. 5, Bach’s Magnificat, and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with the National Philharmonic; Mozart’s Mass in C minor, Handel’s Laudate pueri dominum, and Charpentier’s Te Deum with The City Choir of Washington; Händel’s Messiah with Phoenix and La Jolla symphony orchestras, United States Naval Academy, National Philharmonic, The New Choral Society, and Austin Symphony & Chorus Austin; Poulenc’s Gloria with Arizona State University’s Symphony Orchestra; Verdi’s Requiem with Choral Artists of Sarasota and the Oratorio Society of VA; soprano soloist in Bob Chilcott’s Requiem at Alice Tully Hall; Dvořák’s Stabat Mater at North Carolina Master Chorale; Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with Manchester Symphony Orchestra; and recitals and masterclasses with El Paso Pro Musica, Washington & Lee University, James Madison University and Point Loma University. Her debut album, Canciones españolas, was recently released on the MSR Classics label and the album Heaven and Earth, A Duke Ellington Songbook has followed.

Danielle Talamantes,

Kerry Wilkerson, baritone
Kerry Wilkerson’s solo career has taken him from coast to coast performing major oratorios and recitals. A singer with unique evenness in register, he has been described by the Washington Post as an “exuberant” performer possessing the “amber tone of a lyric baritone with the imposing weight demanded by Handel’s low-lying writing.” He has enjoyed a celebrated career as a member of the United States Army Chorus, singing and conducting for world leaders, Supreme Court Justices, politicians and dignitaries of many nations during official ceremonies and protocol events. Wilkerson has sung professionally with the US Air Force Singing Sergeants and the critically acclaimed Robert Shaw Festival Singers in many of the most prestigious concert halls throughout the United States and Canada. He is well known to Washington, DC audiences through his solo recitals and regular guest appearances with choruses and orchestras such as the Händel Choir of Baltimore, the National Philharmonic Orchestra, City Choir of Washington, Choralis, and the Oratorio Society of Virginia. The 2018/19 season includes performinag the role of Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto with Opera Roanoke, Vaughan Williams' Five Mystical Songs with American University Chorus, Händel's Messiah with the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra, Rachmaninoff's The Bellswith Spokane Symphony, Faure's Requiem with Eugene Concert Choir, Kodaly's Te Deum with Oregon Music Festival, Bach's B minor mass with City Choir of Washington, Mendelssohn's Elijah with Choralis and Durfle's Requiem with the Washington Chorus. His Carnegie Hall debut was made in June of 2017, as baritone soloist in Vaughan Williams' Sancta Civitas, presented by Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY). Highlights during the 2017/18 season included performances with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in Bach's Magnificat, Händel's Messiah with the Austin Symphony, Mozart's Requiem with Fairfax Symphony and as a featured artist in a Bernstein & Friends concert with Close Encounters With Music in the Berkshires. Mr. Wilkerson has joined the faculty of George Mason University.

Violinist Peter Zazofsky (Boston University) enjoys a richly varied career that includes performances with many of the great orchestras in America and Europe, recitals in major music centers, and recordings and tours as first violinist of the Muir String Quartet. A native of Boston, he studied with Joseph Silverstein and Dorothy Delay, before entering the Curtis Institute, where he studied with Ivan Galamian and Jaime Laredo. Graduating in 1976, Zazofsky went on to win top prizes in several international violin contests, including the 1979 Montreal Competition and 1980 Queen Elisabeth in Brussels. Since then he has performed repeatedly with the Boston Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra,  Minnesota Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic among many others, as well as the San Francisco Symphony, who also featured him on tour in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Long committed to teaching, Zazofsky holds the position of Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at Boston University.
Peter Zazofsky
Peter Zazofsky, violin

Recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the President’s Merit Award from the National Academy of Recorded Arts, the Chamber Music America National Service Award and Asia Society's Cultural Achievement Award, cellist Jeffrey Zeigler has enjoyed collaborations and tours with a wide array of artists from Yo-Yo Ma and Roomful of Teeth to Tanya Tagaq and Hauschka, and from Philip Glass and John Corigliano to Laurie Anderson and John Zorn. He has also performed as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Royal Danish Radio Symphony and the Ulster Orchestra under the batons of JoAnn Falletta, Dennis Russell Davies, Peter Oundjian and Dmitry Sitkovetsky. This season, Zeigler will give the world premiere of a new cello concerto by Mark Adamo in Carnegie Hall as well as the European premiere of “The Sacred Veil” by Eric Whitacre in St John’s Smith Square in London . He is the Label Director of National Sawdust Tracks, the non-profit, in-house record label of National Sawdust, an artist-led, multidisciplinary new music venue in Brooklyn. Jeffrey Zeigler was the cellist of the internationally renowned Kronos Quartet for eight seasons. During his tenure, he had the opportunity to collaborate with a wide range of luminaries from Henryk Gorecki and Steve Reich to Tom Waits. Zeigler is currently the Co-Chair of the String Department and Professor of Cello at Mannes School of Music in New York City , and is on the faculty at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine .  A champion of interdisciplinary collaboration, Zeigler is the cellist of the vocal punk band (M)iyamoto is Black Enough and has released dozens of recordings for Nonesuch Records, Deutsche Grammophon, Cantaloupe and Smithsonian Folkways.

Jeffrey Zeigler
Jeffrey Zeigler, cellist
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Berkshire High Peaks Festival   PO Box 34  Great Barrington, MA  01230 
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