|August 28, Fri, 7:30 The Meiningen Trio
Jonathan Cohler, clarinet, jonathancohler.com
Sebastian Bäverstam, cello, sebastianbaverstam.com
Rasa Vitkauskaite, piano, rasavitkauskaite.com
Jonathan Cohler is recognized throughout the world as "an absolute master of the clarinet" (International Clarinet Association's Clarinet Magazine). Through his performances around the world and on record, he has thrilled an ever widening audience with his incredible musicianship and total technical command. His technical feats have been hailed as "superhuman" and Fanfare Magazine has placed him in the pantheon of legendary musicians: "one thinks of Dinu Lipatti."
A highly acclaimed recording artist, his recordings have received numerous accolades and awards including nomination for the INDIE Award, the Outstanding Recording mark of the American Record Guide, BBC Music Magazine's Best CDs of The Year selection, and top ratings from magazines, radio stations, and record guides worldwide including Penguin Guide, BBC Music Magazine, MusicWeb International, and Listener Magazine, which wrote, "Cohler possesses such musical integrity and taste that everything he touches seems like the last word". Gramophone lauded Mr. Cohler's expression of "the poetry that lesser artists miss."
Not many three-year-olds would ask their Moms for a cello, but Sebastian Bäverstam did, one day from the back seat of the family car. It was shortly after his first encounter with the instrument, at a church concert in his hometown of Newton, MA. "I remember being very young and very excited by the cello. That has never really changed," he said in a recent telephone interview.
Bäverstam took first prize in the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Concerto Competition in 2006, and several months later performed the Shostakovich First Concerto with the BSO in Symphony Hall. A year later he began studies at the New England Conservatory of Music under renowned cellist Paul Katz, whom, he says, was "the right teacher at the right time," because he connected the young Sebastian to the realities of professionalism. "He didn't let me get away with making up my own technique, anymore" laughs Bäverstam. The young cellist is still finishing his undergraduate degree at NEC, having had to take time off in the last several years to play concerts. His first year there, he was called upon to substitute for Lynn Harrell with the Cape Cod Symphony on six hours notice. His performance of the Schumann Concerto was praised in the press for its "insightful musicianship and poetic feeling."
Bäverstam's cello, an 1812 Fiori, was a gift from his grandfather. "He loved music passionately. His mother was a very talented pianist but was discouraged from performing in public. He wanted me to have this instrument and gave it to me before he died." Bäverstam bought his bow with the $2,000 he made playing for a Bose commercial.
Rasa Vitkauskaite has won top prizes at numerous prestigious international piano competitions including First Prizes at the Rubinstein Piano Competition (Paris), Les Rencontres Internationales des Jeunes Pianistes (Belgium), the competition in Taurisano (Italy), and the Mendelssohn Cup (Italy). In 2007, Rasa won a Kathryn Wasserman Davis $10,000 grant that supported her tour promoting peace in Israel. In 2012, she was awarded the Westmont Fellowship at the Montecito International Music Festival in Santa Barbara, California.
2014 marked the release of her debut solo CD Reflections published by Ongaku Records. Rasa has performed as soloist with the Kaunas, Latvian, Kaliningrad Philharmonic Orchestras, I Solisti di Perugia and the Boston Conservatory Orchestra. Her most recent concert engagements include performances at festivals in China, South Korea, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Hungary, and the United States.
Rasa performs regularly with world-renowned clarinetist Jonathan Cohler. The duo recorded two CDs - Rhapsodie Française, Romanza and American Tribute. She is also the pianist of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Rasa is a faculty member at the Concord Conservatory.
Rasa studied at the National M.K. Čiurlionis School of Arts in Lithuania. She then won a scholarship to study at the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy. Subsequently, she studied at The Boston Conservatory, where she twice won the H. Wilfred Churchill piano scholarship competition, and completed her Bachelors and Masters degrees. Her teachers include Jūratė Karosaitė, Mūza Rubackytė, Alberto Miodini, Michael Lewin and Randall Hodgkinson.