MEET OUR JUDGES
A charismatic and versatile flutist, JANET ARMS has been a member of the New York City Opera orchestra since 1988. She has also performed and recorded with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Ballet, Metropolitan Opera, as guest principal flutist with the St. Louis Symphony in the US and throughout Europe, as well as with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston, at Tanglewood, and on tour. She had a long-standing association with the Bard Festival Orchestra and the American Symphony Orchestra, has worked with the NYC Ballet, American Ballet Theater, New Jersey Symphony, as well as subbed on Broadway in The King and I, Finding Neverland and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
As a faculty member of the Hartt School, Janet holds the title of Senior Artist Teacher as well as the Associate Chair of Chamber Music of Winds and Brass. As a newly appointed member of the flute faculty, Janet Arms is now teaching at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, where she started in the fall of 2018. She has been a faculty member of the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy - PRISMA in Powell River, BC for many years and has spent several summers in Brazil, teaching and performing with the faculty of the renowned Festival Eleazar de Carvalho in Fortaleza. She spent one recent summer performing chamber music in Greece at the St George International Music Festival.
As an active performer in commercial recording here in NYC, Janet can be heard on a number of film documentaries for PBS. Scored by Michael Bacon, these include Jewish Americans, The Kennedy Years, and The Roosevelt Years to name a few. She made her recital debut at Carnegie Hall as a prizewinner of the Concert Artists International competition while completing her Masters degree at Juilliard.
Ms. Arms’ chamber music career has included appearances with her NYC Opera colleagues at Lincoln Center, performances at the Eastern Shore Chamber Music Festival, with the Concordia Chamber Players, the New York Chamber Soloists and appearances at PRISMA with her colleagues from the Chicago Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, LA Philharmonic, Vancouver Symphony, and Victoria Symphony Orchestra.
Her most recent chamber music project, The Pandora Duo, is a collaboration with guitarist and fellow Hartt faculty member Christopher Ladd. Concertizing throughout the northeast, the duo is busy recording and working with living composers, promoting new music and adding new works to their ever expanding repertoire.
A frequent guest soloist with the Met Chamber Ensemble, soprano JUDITH BETTINA has performed with the San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Munich Philharmonic and American Composers Orchestra. She has performed with chamber groups throughout the United States and Europe, including guest appearances with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Bach Chamber Soloists, Speculum Musicae, The Bard Music Festival, Cygnus Ensemble, The Geneva Music Festival, Musicisti Americani, Collage New Music, San Francisco Contemporary Chamber Players, the International Viola d’amore Congress, and invitational concerts at the Library of Congress. Her recordings are on New World Records, Harmonia Mundi, Koch International Classics, Musical Heritage, Wergo and Bridge Records. Composers of works written for Judith Bettina have included Milton Babbitt, Mel Powell, Tobias Picker, Chester Biscardi, David Rakowski, and Christopher Berg, among others. Ms. Bettina is the co-editor of Tobias Picker’s Songs for Voice and Piano (Schott Music) and two collections by Chester Biscardi: Modern Love Songs and Selected Songs: Voice & Piano (Biscardi Music Press). Formerly on the music faculty of Stanford University, she currently teaches for the Mannes Preparatory Division.
RICHARD HIRSCHL joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s cello section in 1989. A native of Washington, Missouri, he began cello lessons with his father, an amateur cellist. His intermediate studies were with Savely Schuster, associate principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony. He was accepted into the class of Leonard Rose and Channing Robbins at the Juilliard School, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1987 and a master’s degree in 1988.
Hirschl was an associate teacher at Juilliard before moving to Chicago. He was the winner of the 1988 Juilliard Concerto Competition, 1988 Irving M. Klein International String Competition and 1980 St. Louis Symphony Scholarship Competition.
In addition to his New York debut with the Juilliard Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall, Hirschl has given concerto performances with the Peoria Symphony, the Northwestern Indiana Symphony, the New Philharmonic, Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra, Jupiter Symphony, St. Louis Philharmonic, Maracaibo Symphony (Venezuela), National Repertory Orchestra, St. Louis Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York.
He has appeared in chamber music performances with celebrated pianists Daniel Barenboim, András Schiff and Ursula Oppens, cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Lynn Harrell and violinist Vadim Repin. He is on the faculty of the Chicago Conservatory for the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and has a large class of private students. He plays a Venetian cello made by Matteo Goffriller in 1710 and a cello made in Chicago by William Whedbee in 2014. He and his wife Laura make their home in a downtown high-rise where they are the proud parents of Ava Clare and Vivian Rose Hirschl.
ALAN R. KAY is Principal Clarinetist and a former Artistic Director of Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and serves as Principal Clarinet with New York’s Riverside Symphony and Little Orchestra Society. Mr. Kay’s honors include the Classical Recording Foundation Samuel Sanders Award, the C.D. Jackson Award at Tanglewood, a Presidential Scholars Teacher Award, and the 1989 Young Concert Artists Award with the sextet Hexagon featured in the prizewinning film, “Debut.” A founding member of the Windscape Quintet, he is a regular guest in chamber music venues throughout the world, including the Yellow Barn, Orlando (Holland), Bowdoin, and Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society Festivals, and the Cape May Music Festival, where he curated a concert series for 25 years. Mr. Kay taught at the Summer Music Academy in Leipzig, Germany in 2004 and teaches at the Manhattan School of Music, The Juilliard School and Stony Brook University, where he also serves as Executive Director of the Stony Brook University Orchestra. A virtuoso of wind repertoire, Mr. Kay has recorded with Hexagon, Windscape and the Sylvan Winds. His transcriptions for wind quintet are available from Trevco Music Publishing and International Opus. Mr. Kay’s recent CD, “Max Reger: Music for Clarinet and Piano,” on Bridge Records with pianist Jon Klibonoff, won the Classical Recording Foundation’s Samuel Sanders Chamber Music Award. He has also recently recorded Perry Goldstein’s Quintet with the “M” Prize-winning Calidore String Quartet and reductions for chamber ensemble of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder and Das Lied von der Erde, and Max Reger’s Romantic Suite in The Netherlands with Gruppo Montebello, Henk Guittart conducting. He has served on the juries of international chamber music competitions in Trapani, Italy and Rolduc, Holland, Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Concert Artist Guild Auditions, and the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition.
American violinist KURT NIKKANEN is an international soloist of the highest order. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, he began his violin studies at the age of three, later studying with Roman Totenberg and Jens Ellerman. At twelve he gave his Carnegie Hall debut, performing with the New York Symphony; two years later he was invited by Zubin Mehta to perform the Paganini Concerto No.1 with the New York Philharmonic for a Young People’s Concert. He is a graduate of the Juilliard School, where he was a scholarship student of Dorothy DeLay.
Mr. Nikkanen regularly receives invitations from the leading orchestras and presenters in the USA and Europe, and has toured Japan and the Far East. In North America he has appeared with the Dallas Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Cleveland Orchestra, and in Europe with the BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Rotterdam Philharmonic and the Dresden Staatskapelle. He has worked with many leading conductors.
An enthusiastic advocate of contemporary music, Kurt Nikkanen has given numerous performances of the John Adams Violin Concerto, with orchestras such as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Oregon Symphony, Hallé Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony (all under the composer’s direction).
Highlights of recent seasons have included a UK tour with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, performances with the Gothenburg Symphony and Neeme Jarvi at the BBC Proms, and concerts with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Prague Symphony and RTE Orchestra in Dublin; also with the Bayerischer Rundfunk and Suddeutscher Rundfunk orchestras, both with the late Yakov Kreizberg, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra with Junichi Hirokami. He has also appeared with the Belgian National Orchestra, Trondheim Symphony and the orchestra of RAI Turin, the Detroit Symphony and Orchestra of Galicia, the Bilbao Symphony, the Malaysian Philharmonic and performances of the Dvorak concerto with the Czech Philharmonic and Vladimir Ashkenazy, both in Prague and on tour in the USA, with concerts in New York and Chicago. In 2011, he was featured as soloist in a performance of the Barber Violin Concerto and Ravel Tzigane with the Turku Philharmonic in a live webcast that was streamed worldwide.
Mr. Nikkanen has had many works written for him, including Steven R. Gerber’s violin concerto, which he has recorded for Koch International. In 2009, Mr. Nikkanen performed the world premiere of Mikko Heinio’s concerto Alla Madre, subsequently recording it for Sony Classical with the Turku Philharmonic under Petri Sakari and released in 2010. His recording of William Walton’s Violin Concerto with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra was released on the Nimbus Alliance label in 2010 and was chosen as “Critics Choice for 2010” in Gramophone Magazine.
Mr. Nikkanen gave the New York premiere of the Violin Concerto by Thomas Adès in May 2010 and has since performed it in Australia with the Perth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Paul Daniel.
In addition to his orchestral appearances, Kurt Nikkanen performs regularly as a recitalist both in the US and abroad with his wife, pianist Maria Asteriadou, presenting repertoire ranging from the complete Beethoven sonatas to Piazzolla tangos.
He is the Concertmaster of the New York City Ballet Orchestra and maintains a private teaching studio in New York, where he resides with his family.
Pianist THOMAS SAUER is a highly sought after soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. Recent appearances include concerto performances with the Quad-City and Tallahassee Symphonies and the Greenwich Village Orchestra; solo performances at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium), Merkin Concert Hall, Rockefeller University, and St. John’s College, Oxford; appearances on Broadway as the pianist in 33 Variations, a play about the composition of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations; and performances at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. With his long-time duo partner Colin Carr, Mr. Sauer has appeared at the Wigmore Hall (London), Holywell Music Room (Oxford), the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Musikgebouw, Bargemusic (New York City), the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), Da Camera (Houston), and Princeton University, among many other venues. Other appearances include recitals with Midori at the Philharmonie in Berlin and the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels; performances with members of the Juilliard String Quartet at the Library of Congress; a recital with violinist Jennifer Koh at the Kennedy Center; and numerous concerts with the Brentano String Quartet.