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Thu sep 21
7:30 pm

Franco Alfano: Transcending Turandot featuring Elmira Darvarova (violin), Samuel Magill (cello), and Blair McMillen (piano)

Kresge Theatre, College of Fine Arts
5000 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213


Elmira Darvarova, violin
Samuel Magill, cello
Blair McMillen, piano

Franco Alfano (1875-1954)
Sonata in D Major for violin and piano (original 1923 version)
Quatre Danses Roumaines (1899), arranged in 1932 for cello and piano by Luigi Silva
Concerto for violin, cello and piano (1932)

Internationally acclaimed artists, Elmira Darvarova (violin), Samuel Magill (cello), and Blair McMillen (piano) perform an all Franco Alfano program in the intimate setting of Kresge Theatre. 


A Grammy®-nominated concert violinist since the age of four, Elmira Darvarova caused a  sensation, becoming the first ever (and so far only) woman-concertmaster in the history of the Metropolitan Opera. With the MET Orchestra she toured Europe, Japan and the United States, and was heard on the MET's live weekly international radio broadcasts. As MET Opera concertmaster she has performed with the greatest conductors of our time, including the legendary Carlos Kleiber. She can be heard on numerous CDs, recorded for several labels (recent releases include the world premiere of Vernon Duke's violin concerto with the Vienna Radio Symphony, and a CD with world premiere recordings of music by René de Castéra, named by MusicWeb International a Record of the Year 2015). Appearing in recitals and as soloist on five continents, she has been concerto soloist with the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, and with numerous other orchestras. She has appeared on the world’s most prestigious stages and has shared the stage for symphonic and chamber performances with music giants such as James Levine, Janos Starker, Gary Karr, Pascal Rogé, among others. A documentary film about her life and career was shown on European television. She performs with the New York Piano Quartet, the Delphinium Trio, the Quinteto del Fuego and the Amram Ensemble, and in a duo with pianist/composer Fernando Otero. A jury president of several international chamber music competitions in Europe, she is also Director of the New York Chamber Music Festival. She has been praised by Gramophone Magazine for her "ultra-impassioned performances", and in The Strad for her “intoxicating tonal beauty and beguilingly sensuous phrasing" and "silky-smooth voluptuous tone”. In 2015 Gramophone Magazine published on its first page an interview with Elmira Darvarova about her world-premiere recording of Vernon Duke's violin concerto (written for Heifetz in 1940), which she recorded with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. More info at: www.elmiradarvarova.com

Praised in the September/October, 2015 issue of Fanfare Magazine, cellist Samuel Magill has had a rich and varied career as soloist and chamber musician. James Forrest said of his recent Centaur release of Andrew Rudin’s Cello Sonata, “Throughout, Magill’s beautiful cello tone is in evidence, endlessly expressive, subtle in shading.” His first Naxos CD of the Cello Concerto of Vernon Duke was hailed as "flat-out magnificent" by the American Record Guide. His CD of the chamber music by René de Castéra was named a 2015 Record of the Year by U.K. based MusicWeb International. He is a co-founder of The Elysian Ensemble, a flute, cello and harp trio. They made their New York debut at Weill Recital Hall to critical acclaim. Strings Magazine declared them "masters of their instruments". A pupil of the late Zara Nelsova, Mr. Magill was educated at the Peabody Institute and Rice University. He is currently a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York, and was formerly Associate Principal Cello. He was for nine summers Principal Cello and Soloist of the New York Symphonic Ensemble. As such he toured throughout Japan playing the concerti of Tchaikovsky, Saint Saens, Dvorak, Dohnanyi and Schumann. Three of these performances were recorded live by Panasonic. Magill was also a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Houston Symphony. More info at: www.samuelmagill.com

Pianist Blair McMillen leads a multifarious musical life as soloist, chamber musician, new-music champion, pedagogue, and conductor.   The New York Times has described him as “riveting,” “prodigiously accomplished and exciting,” and as one of the piano’s “brilliant stars.”   Highlights from recent seasons include concertos with the American Symphony in Carnegie Hall, solo appearances with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Albany Symphony, and a 3-week solo tour of Brazil sponsored by the US State Department.  McMillen is the co-founder director of the Rite of Summer Music Festival, an indie-classical outdoor concert series held on New York City’s Governors Island.  He has served on the music faculty at Bard College and Conservatory since 2005, and he joined the faculty at Mannes School of Music in 2017. A self-taught jazz pianist, he regularly is involved in improvisation projects ranging from the straight-ahead to the avant-garde. "New Music's Torchbearer... Blair McMillen can play composers like Debussy, Liszt, and Scriabin with flair, intelligence, and Juilliard-honed virtuosity... When played by the formidable Mr. McMillen, any piece sounds terrific."  – Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times.