May 4, 2018, Portland, OR -- Portland Piano International / SOLO presents three public hour-long performances by Rising Star pianist Sophiko Simsive. In addition to other pieces, Sophiko's program includes a new work by Oregon composer Kenji Bunch, entitled La Discothèque, a piece inspired by Ravel’s La Valse. Kenji’s piece was composed through the Portland Piano International / SOLO Commissioning Project and performed in cooperation with its already-established Rising Stars program. The composer will be present at most of the performances.
“We are so happy to be presenting Sophiko as our next Rising Star. Although she is just in her mid-twenties, she has been performing publicly since the age of 11.” said Ellen Bergstone Wasil, executive director. “Her program is also very compelling. Our audiences will have heard Ravel’s La Valse as performed at the beginning of our season by Yekwon Sunwoo, the 2017 Gold Medalist of the Van Cliburn Piano Competition. We are thrilled to have Sophiko perform this challenging work and premiere Kenji’s piece, playfully titled La Discothèque.”
Sophiko’s full program is the following:
Mozart: Sonata in F K533
Scriabin: Sonata No 5
Kenji Bunch: La Discothèque
Ravel: La Valse
Sophikos’ scheduled appearances include:
Wednesday, May 16
7pm public performance at Portland Piano Company, 8700 NE Columbia Blvd, Portland, OR 97220
Thursday, May 17
7pm public performance at Salem Library, 585 Liberty Street SE, Salem, OR 97301
Friday, May 18:
10am-noon masterclass for young students at Portland Piano Company, 8700 NE Columbia Blvd, Portland, OR 97220
7pm public performance at Hood River Middle School, 1602 May Street, Hood River, OR 97031
All performances are free.
The two-year Commissioning Project is funded through a Creative Heights Grant from The Oregon Community Foundation. Portland Piano International was selected as one of only 13 organizations statewide for the first round of these new grants, which were established through the Fred W. Fields Fund. Portland Piano International thanks the Herbert A. Templeton Foundation, ESCO Foundation for helping make the Rising Star series possible.
About Sophiko Simsive
Georgian-born Sophiko Simsive began piano lessons with her mother at the age of three. At just eleven years old she performed Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto with the student orchestra of Georgia at the Beethoven Festival in Bonn (Germany) and played the same concerto in a Rudolf Buchbinder master class in Switzerland. At that time, in 2003 conductor Lev Markiz discovered her at the Music Gymnasium of Tbilisi, where she studied with professors Maka Aladashvili and Alexander Garber. While at school she was a recipient of a scholarship from Vladimir Spivakov and performed at the Kremlin in Moscow. She further toured with I Virtuosi Italiani under Lev Markiz in the Netherlands, playing Mozart’s Jeunehomme Piano Concerto at De Doelen in Rotterdam, the Vredenburg in Utrecht, the Stadsgehoorzaal in Leiden and in De Oosterport in Groningen. In the fall of 2007 15-year-old Sophiko was admitted to the Sweelinck Conservatory of Amsterdam as its youngest pupil. Esteemed professor Mila Baslavskaya guided her towards a bachelor’s degree cum laude in 2012. She then studied with professor Jacques Rouvier at the Universität der Künste in Berlin.
During her first year at the Conservatory Sophiko won the first prize at the Princess Christina Concours in the Netherlands. This prize included a performance of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto with the Residential Orchestra of The Hague under Jan Willem de Vriend and a chamber music tour in the USA and Canada. In 2008 she won the Yamaha Piano Competition in Amsterdam. Sophiko played a solo recital at the Canterbury Festival in England in 2011 and was invited to the academy program of the International Music Festival of Verbier in 2013.
In 2015 she toured with Eduard Sistek on cello in the New Masters on Tour series organized by The International Holland Music Sessions and made her debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York together with Kian Soltani on cello. Sophiko performed 11 solo recitals in the Netherlands as a finalist of the Dutch Classical Talent program. She won her age category at the Young Pianist Foundation Competition during which she played Liszt’s First Piano Concerto with the Noord Nederlands Orkest under Pieter-Jelle de Boer. Sophiko was awarded both the audience prize and the prize for the obligatory work by Dutch composer Diderik Wagenaar. That same year Sophiko won the first prize as well as the press prize at the Geertruidenberg Klassiek. In January 2016 she gave a series of concerts together with violinist Amarins Wierdsma in Indonesia organized by the Erasmus Huis. Sophiko was the winner of the GrachtenfestivalPrijs 2016 of the Netherlands and was Artist in Residence during the Grachtenfestival 2017.
Over the years Sophiko has participated in masterclasses with pianists such as Dmitri Alexeev, Dmitri Bashkirov, Pascal Devoyon, Klaus Hellwig, Ferenc Rados, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Lilya Zilberstein.
Since September 2016 she has pursued her master’s degree at the Yale School of Music under professor Boris Berman.
About Kenji Bunch
Composer/performer Kenji Bunch has received acclaim from audiences, performers, and critics alike for his work combining vernacular American influences with techniques from his classical training to create a unique vocabulary of New American music. His compositions have been performed by over fifty American orchestras, and in premiere venues on six continents. Recordings of his music are regularly broadcast on radio worldwide and are available on 18 different record labels.
Kenji maintains an active performing career and is recognized for his own groundbreaking works for viola. Deeply committed to exploring connections with musicians from other backgrounds as well as artists of other disciplines, Kenji has collaborated with choreographers, film directors, actors, and prominent rock, jazz, folk, and experimental musicians.
Upcoming projects include commissions by the Eugene Ballet, the Seattle Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the Britt Festival, the Lark Quartet, and the Music at Angel Fire Festival, at which Kenji will appear as Composer in Residence next summer. Currently serving as Composer in Residence for 45th Parallel in Portland, his past residencies include the Spoleto USA Festival, the Bravo! Vail Festival, the Mobile Symphony, Sound Encounters (Boston), the Craftsbury Chamber Players, and Young Concert Artists, Inc.
A graduate of the Juilliard School in both viola and composition and a 20-year veteran of the New York City musical world, he returned in 2013 to his native Portland, Oregon, where he has served as Artistic Director of Fear No Music since 2014. He lives with his wife, concert pianist Monica Ohuchi, their two children, and their dog, Coffee.
A dedicated teacher who taught viola, composition and chamber music for 12 years at The Juilliard School Pre-College, he now teaches viola and composition at Reed College and Portland State University and is the head music theory teacher for the Portland Youth Philharmonic.
Portland Piano International is dedicated to presenting the finest pianists in the world in recital settings and outreach activities for the purpose of enriching and educating our community. Funders and sponsors include the Oregon Community Foundation, Regional Arts & Culture Council, Work for Art, James F. and Marion Miller Foundation, ESCO Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Portland Piano Company, Higgins Restaurant, Portland State University and All Classical Media.
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