A wonderful performance in a most “New York setting” last night–The Cell Theatre at dusk–featuring the Verona Quartet, with from left Jonathan Ong, Abby Rojansky, Jonathan Dormand and Dorothy Ro with a special guest appearance by Seunghee Lee, Clarinet/Sunny Kang. A Charles R Hale/Musica Solis presentation. Photo by Tom Myles
Join us on Friday, May 10, 7:30pm for the third edition of “Classically Exposed: From Carnegie to the Cell” featuring the Verona Quartet: Dorothy Ro/Violin, Abby Rojansky/Viola, Jonathan Ong/ Violin, Jonathan Dormand, Cello and special guest Seunghee Lee/clarinet. Another evening of classical music as you haven’t heard it before.
Hailed by The New York Times as an “outstanding ensemble,” the Verona Quartet is dedicated to showcasing the art form of the string quartet and to elevating their music making to convey the poetic narrative of storytelling.
For tickets and info CLICK HERE. The Cell Theatre is located at 338 West 23rd St. Doors and bar at 7:00pm,
For tickets and additional info click here.
Nancy Manocherian’s “the cell” presents Charles R Hale Productions/Musica Solis Series, “Classically Exposed.” With artistic director Seunghee Lee, Clarinet (Sunny Kang)
Charles R. Hale Productions and Musical Solis present guitarist Yuri Juarez and pianist Renato Diz performing “From Classical to Jazz,” timeless works from the classical repertoire, rearranged for piano and guitar with improvisation sections (Jazz!), as was popular during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
Nancy Manocherian’s the cell presents a Charles R. Hale Productions/Musical Solis Series”
“CLASSICALLY EXPOSED: FROM CARNEGIE HALL TO THE CELL”
April 26: Yuri Juarez and Renato Diz: “From Classical to Jazz”
“The cell” is located at 338 West 23rd St in the Chelsea section of Manhattan
“Classically Exposed: From Carnegie Hall to the Cell”
by Vinnie Nauheimer
Photos by Vera Maura
“Classically Exposed: From Carnegie Hall to the Cell” opened at The Cell this past Wednesday. There could be no greater example of synergy—the interaction or cooperation of one or more elements that produces an outcome greater than its individual components. Who cannot imagine the difference between an unaccompanied operatic aria or piano solo, as opposed to the richness of the same works performed with a full orchestra? When Charles R. Hale and Seunghee Lee (Sunny) got together to collaborate on and produce “Classically Exposed: From Carnegie Hall to the Cell” you knew the outcome would be synergetic magic. These two share a number of traits: a love of music, storytelling and a strong desire to help young artists achieve their goals. The results of their collaboration were evident throughout the evening.
The program was a rich mixture of classical and contemporary music. In the first half of the program, Lee, accompanied by the Manhattan Chamber Players, beautifully presented three works for clarinet and string quartet. The first work performed was the first movement of Mozart’s “Quintet for Clarinet and Strings,” a historically significant work—it was Mozart’s first quintet for clarinet and string quartet. The piece debuted in 1789 and set the bar for composers to follow. The quintet played the piece with a vibrancy and vitality that I believe would have been worthy of the composer’s praise. Judging by the reaction of the SRO audience, they too would agree.
The next work was Brahms’ “Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet,” yet another classic. Luke Fleming, the artistic director of the Manhattan Chamber Players, gave a brief history of the piece noting that Brahms was so taken with Richard Mühlfeld’s clarinet performances, that Brahms, who was in a compositional slump at the time, was once again able to compose music. He began to focus on works for clarinet and strings. Fleming quipped that most great composers had only written chamber music for string quartets…until they heard a virtuoso clarinetist. The melodious sounds of the first movement were masterfully interlaced throughout the work by this very fine ensemble.
The final piece of the first segment was the fourth movement of Weber’s “Clarinet Quintet.” Weber, known as the father of romantic opera, like Brahms, befriended a magnificent clarinet virtuoso, Heinrich Baermann and, as they say, the rest is history. The main difference between Weber’s quintet and the above pieces is that the clarinet has center stage in Weber’s work with the quintet supplying the accompaniment rather than equal roles for each. Sunny was certainly up to the task, brilliantly taking the lead required by this piece, exhibiting the full range of her abilities.
All three pieces ended in a burst of spontaneous applause both, I believe, for the musicians’ virtuosic performances and the composers’ compositions.
The second half of the show focused on contemporary sounds, which were performed by the Manhattan Chamber Players and Lee, as well as two additional performers, bandoneonist JP Jofre and pianist Pablo Cafici.
Jofre composed the first piece “Tangodromo” with a definitive tango sound, while merging traditional classical instrumentation with a Latin beat. Although adding a piano to a clarinet may not be unusual, Jofre’s new and fresh music allowed the musicians an opportunity to showcase their varied talents in a piece that was “spicy” and full of Latin flavor. Kudos to all the artists for stepping out of what might be a classical musician’s comfort zone to help create a new and exciting piece of music.
The second piece, another example of musical synergy, was the first and second movements of JP’s “Double Concerto for Clarinet and Bandoneon.” Jofre and Lee stated that the work has an additional movement that they are currently writing. If the third movement is as good as the first and second, this piece is a short way from a classic. Marvelous work and a wonderful performance.
The evening ended with another work composed by Jofre, “Primavera.” The work showcased modern rhythm and sounds with classical undertones. A brilliant performance.
As an audience participant, I say, “Hat’s off to all for providing a wonderful, joyous evening of music.” If the opening night of “Classically Exposed: From Carnegie Hall to the Cell,” is an indication of the shows to come, last evening’s performance portends well for the series’ subscribers as well as those who can land a ticket.
All photos by Vera Maura
On March 27, 7:30pm, at The Cell Theatre, The Manhattan Chamber Players and Seunghee Lee (Sunny) will be presenting a sampling of a number of the masterworks written for clarinet by Mozart, Brahms, and Weber. The first half of the program will feature the first movement of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet, a movement from Brahms Clarinet Quintet and the the last movement of the virtuosic Weber Clarinet Quintet.
The second half of the program will feature tango music, including the works of Piazzolla and JP Jofre. JP and Sunny will perform JP’s Double Concerto, a work that was written for clarinet and bandoneon and demonstrates the evolution of clarinet music and the instrument’s versatility. The Double Concerto was premiered last year by JP and Sunny during Sunny’s Carnegie Hall recital.
For tickets, which are $20, and additional info click here:
The cell is located at 338 West 23rd St in the Chelsea section of Manhattan.
“Classically Exposed: From Carnegie Hall to The Cell,” beginning on March 27. Tickets for each of the series’ shows will be $20. You can click on the link of an individual event for tickets:
Not only is Seunghee Lee and her production company Musica Solis co-producing the series “Classically Exposed: From Carnegie Hall to The Cell” with me, she is also performing on March 27 with the Manhattan Chamber Players and JP Jofre. But you can hear and meet “Sunny” this Friday, February 22 at “The Cell” when she performs with Empire Wild, a brilliant young group of musicians. This is a free event but you must reserve a seat, which you can do by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A little about Sunny: She was included in the “Top 30 Under 30” by KDFC San Francisco radio. Her albums were chosen as “CD of the Week” and her music is performed on classical musical stations around the world, including WQXR here in NYC. She has collaborated with Deepak Chopra and with renowned Italian film composer, Andrea Morricone, performing his world-premiere arrangement of “Love Theme” from Cinema Paradiso for clarinet and orchestra.
“Now here is a talent… who has a warm, silvery, and woody a tone as anyone could imagine with fast and keen finger work to match… amazing expressive capabilities… positively lovely” – Review by Allmusic.com
Artistry and the Artist by V. Nauheimer
Last night, Seunghee Lee opened Charles R. Hale’s 2018 series “Thoroughly New York.” She was an unequivocal success.
Ms. Lee, a brilliant clarinetist, is a storyteller like Charles, who enhances story through musical performance. Effectively handled, there is a synergy in which the narrative and the music become greater than the sum of their parts. What made this show different is that Ms. Lee was both the musician and the storyteller, engaging the audience with her humor, life experiences and carefully selected musical scores to punctuate each story. It made for a richly rewarding experience.
Ms. Lee played her clarinet with ease and grace, but her performance went far beyond her immense musical skills. She shared an inspirational story of how she’d arrived at this time and place in her life and how she’d wrestled with her love for music and roles as a clarinetist, a mother and wife. At one point she described a moment in her life when in despair, she gave up her music, but turned it into a humorous moment by flashing a photo onto the screen of her clarinet, in her home, with a lampshade over it. Ms. Lee explained that even though she wasn’t actively using it at that point in her life she did not want to let it go. Clearly, the world is richer because Ms. Lee came back to her clarinet.
Ms. Lee opened her show with an Elgar piece that is very dear to her, Salut d’Amour Bravo, (Salute to Love) She explained how the piece was written for violin, but because of her love for the work, she became the first clarinetist to record it. It was a pattern that she would repeat often, which included producing a book containing sheet music for the clarinet called “Hidden Treasures.”
Ms. Lee also regaled us with tales of her love of golf even comparing it to music, noting that each discipline required, “practice, practice, practice…” as well as finding a good teacher, having fun and developing a good rhythm and tempo. To punctuate the story, she played Gabriel Faure’s 1893 piece, Sicilienne, which she stated gave her a sense of freedom and wonder while she played golf.
As the evening progressed, it was clear that little held back Ms. Lee. When it came to performing and her love of her instrument…anything was possible. Nothing underscored that more than her two Puccini arias “O Mio Bambino Cara” from Gianna Schicchi and “Nessun Dorma” from Turandot. I’m an opera fan, but hearing these well known arias performed as clarinet solos was a richly rewarding experience. While Sunny performed, accompanied by pianist Evan Solomon, it would have been impossible not to hear Kathleen Battle or the great Pavarotti, whose signature song was Nessun Dorma, singing these arias. Quite riveting.
The most moving moment of the evening was Ms Lee’s tribute to her father, who was taken from her in a most unfortunate and untimely manner. To honor his life, which included introducing her to the clarinet, as well as instructing her, Ms. Lee performed her father’s favorite song, “Danny Boy.” The soul and emotion she put into the song was a magnificent tribute. The audience was on the edge of their seats, the emotion palpable.
I’d never experienced a classically trained musician of Seunghee Lee’s talent, combine superior musicality and riveting storytelling. A novel concept, superbly crafted. It was an exceptional evening and if this is a portent of things to come, I await the next performance in this series, “Thoroughly New York,” with great anticipation
Photos by Mitch Traphagen
“Now here is a talent… who has as warm, silvery, and woody a tone as anyone could imagine with fast and keen finger work to match… amazing expressive capabilities… positively lovely” – Review by Allmusic.com
Seunghee Lee is a multi-faceted musician, international recording artist, and musical entrepreneur, Seunghee (Sunny) brings a vivacious energy, an exquisite elegance and extraordinary precision to all her endeavors. Ms. Lee has been recognized by the Clarinet Magazine as “an uncompromising soloist, destined to be an upcoming contender of top stature”.
Sunny’s 2017-2018 season included a tour of northern Italy performing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, visiting professorship at Yale School of Music, and a Sold-Out debut recital at Carnegie Hall. An advocate for exploring new ideas, embracing all musical genres, one of the greatest highlights was her collaboration with DEEPAK CHOPRA on his new album & book: HOME: Where Everyone is Welcome, a collection of thirty-four original poems and twelve songs inspired by a diverse group of immigrants.
Join us for, “Artistry & the Artist, a great night of music and storytelling. TICKETS FOR SEUNGHEE LEE ON MAY 16 CLICK HERE.