RELEASE: Two Debuts and Two French Favorites
Compelling cellist Gabriel Martins brings his “mesmerizing” sound to the Omaha Symphony with a performance of Elgar’s last full-scale orchestral work, the Cello Concerto in E minor.
The Omaha Symphony premieres a new work by “A Budding Beethoven” and a KVNO Classical Kid, Winston Schneider.
OMAHA, Neb., September 13, 2022 – In this exciting season opener, Maestro Ankush Kumar Bahl and the Omaha Symphony unveil a world premiere by Omaha’s own Winston Schneider, a young yet prolific composer on his way to classical music stardom. In another first, Gabriel Martins, a virtuoso cellist recognized for his "rich, warm" and "mesmerizing" sound makes his Omaha debut with the poignant Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor before embarking on his tour of the United Kingdom. To conclude the program, local artist Christina Narwicz paints a masterpiece to the sound of Debussy’s La Mer, followed by Ravel’s well-known Bolero.
Commissioned by our partner KVNO in celebration of their 50th anniversary, the world premiere of Anniversary Overture by Schneider will undoubtedly live up to its name. “Anniversary Overture is a celebratory piece, and I hope that it reflects the celebration of 50 years of beautiful music. I’m very happy with how it turned out, and I can’t wait to hear it performed,” says Schneider as he looks forward to working with Maestro Bahl and the symphony in upcoming rehearsals.
In continuing the theme of firsts, Christina Narwicz, a local painter, joins the orchestra on stage during their performance of Debussy’s La Mer to paint her own masterpiece in real time. “I don’t usually work with music…but now, I’m so honored to have been asked to take this on because I feel that the addition of music has created not only a challenge for me but a shift in my career. As a painter, learning more about music and its language has shown me that there are so many similarities in the way that music and art intersect, and I look forward to exploring that connection further through this experience.”
Performances will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, September 23-24 at the Holland Performing Arts Center Peter Kiewit Concert Hall. Tickets are on sale now at omahasymphony.org.
Friday-Saturday, September 23-24 at 7:30 p.m.
Holland Performing Arts Center Peter Kiewit Concert Hall
Ankush Kumar Bahl, conductor
Gabriel Martins, cello
Winston Schneider, composer
Christina Narwicz, artist
WINSTON SCHNEIDER: Anniversary Overture (World Premiere)
ELGAR: Cello Concerto
DEBUSSY: La Mer
After Hours I – Gabriel Martins and Music Director Ankush Kumar Bahl
Saturday, September 24, immediately following the “Elgar & Bolero” performance at the
Holland Performing Arts Center - Orchestra Level Lobby
Gabriel Martins, cello
Ankush Kumar Bahl, host
Following Saturday evening's performance of “Elgar & Bolero,” patrons are invited to gather in the orchestra level lobby for a chamber performance featuring enthralling cellist Gabriel Martins and hosted by our very own Maestro Bahl. Selections will span a variety of musical eras and regions and will allow audiences to experience our guest artist in a more intimate setting. Admission is free with a ticket to the Masterworks performance. Cash bar available.
About Gabriel Martins
Cellist Gabriel Martins (b. 1998) has established himself as one of the world’s most compelling young artists, with a deep commitment to the timeless masterpieces of classical music. His artistry has already been recognized through an extensive list of accolades including the Concert Artists Guild – Young Classical Artists Trust Grand Prize, the Sphinx Competition Gold Medal, the David Popper International Cello Competition Gold Medal, the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians Silver Medal, the Schadt String Competition Gold Medal, the Orford Music Award, and the Prague Spring Czech Music Fund Prize. These successes have led to a number of high-profile debuts including Wigmore, Carnegie, and Merkin Halls, 92nd Street Y, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Maison Symphonique in Montréal, and the Arkansas, Houston, Indianapolis, Memphis, New Russian State, Pacific, and Phoenix Symphony Orchestras. The Strad Magazine declared his New York City recital debut to be "flawlessly played" and "a deeply moving experience.”
Having been lauded for his "rich, warm" and "mesmerizing" sound, Martins carries a concerto repertoire spanning practically every major work. His current season includes those by Dvořák, Elgar, Haydn, Schumann, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, and Villa-Lobos. In recital, his critically acclaimed performances of the Bach Cello Suites have garnered particular recognition. In 2022, Martins debuted his first complete Beethoven Cycle, performing and recording all of the works for Cello and Piano with Audrey Vardanega. In addition to his commitment to the great classics of the cello repertoire, Martins composes his own works and arranges many others. His “Songs of Solitude” received their World Premiere in the spring of 2021 in collaboration with the Brooklyn Public Library, and his new cello arrangements of Bach’s Solo Violin Sonatas and Partitas have received high acclaim and a feature in The Strad Magazine. Martins’ performances have been broadcast on NPR, WQXR, KUSC, WFMT, and more. He is also a passionate educator, having served as a teaching assistant both at the IU Jacobs School of Music and the USC Thornton School of Music, and now teaching privately and giving a number of masterclasses.
Born of American and Brazilian heritage, Martins grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. He began playing the cello when he was five, studying with Susan Moses at the Indiana University String Academy. He went on to receive his B.M. as a Presidential Scholar at the USC Thornton School of Music with Ralph Kirshbaum. In his freshman year at USC, he won the school’s concerto competition as well as its Bach competition. He received his M.M. at the New England Conservatory of Music with Laurence Lesser. His festival appearances include Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, where he toured with Miriam Fried, and the Aspen Music Festival, where he won the concerto competition. He now resides in South Carolina with his partner, violinist Geneva Lewis. He plays on a composite Francesco Ruggieri cello made in Cremona, c. 1690 and a François Nicolas Voirin bow made in Paris, c. 1880.
About Winston Schneider
Fourteen-year-old Winston Schneider is a composer, pianist, and cellist. He’s won over twenty-six honors and awards for his musical compositions, including national and international awards.
“Congratulations on your bold ideas and I hope you keep them coming,” announced Shawn Jaeger, composer, as he introduced Winston Schneider’s new work, “Insect Suite,” at the MATA Jr. Festival in New York in November 2018. At age 10, Schneider was one of six pre-college composers selected internationally to compose a new piece for MATA Jr, which was premiered by the esteemed New York teen music ensemble, Face the Music, in Brooklyn, New York. “It’s like being a muse. You give him possibilities, and he does his magic, which is amazing for a kid his age,” says Dr. Kenneth Meints in the Omaha World-Herald (October 2016).
Schneider began composing at age five. He has a rare musical ability of Absolute Pitch. He began music theory at the university level at age eight. In 2018 Schneider travelled to Dallas, Texas, for the Young Composers Concert for NAfME[LH1] [DV2] [DC3] [DC4] [DV5] (National Association for Music Education), where his string quartet “Scherzo of the Feather Stars” was featured, as he was the first-place national winner for the NAfME Composition Competition (K-8). That same year, his “Insect March” also won first nationally in the NAfME Electronic Composition Competition (K-8).
With a firm belief that all kids should have access to music education, Schneider won the 2019-20 Lowell Mason House national competition for Music Education Advocacy, with a video submission about the importance of a musical education. Schneider continues to perform and speak as an advocate for music education access for all kids.
Schneider was featured in a NET/PBS series “What If…Winston, Young Composer,” “Nebraska Stories: Winston, Kid Composer,” and nationally on the PBS “Arts Canvas” website. At age 12, he was the youngest student ever to be included in Curtis’ esteemed Summerfest composition program (summer, 2020). Later that summer, Schneider was one of a few non-New York residents selected to be a part of the New York Youth Symphony Composing Program and Conducting Program during their virtual year (2020-21).
After being a three-time finalist in ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, he received one of the top two types of awards, an “Honorable Mention,” in 2021. This competitive and prestigious competition, for composers up to 30 years of age, has 400 - 500 applicants each year.
In 2022, Schneider won the national MTNA Junior Composition Competition. His work, “Salt Creek Tiger Beetle,” a string quintet, is inspired by the endangered insect which is one of the rarest insects in the world, and only found in Nebraska. It was presented at the 2022 MTNA National Conference. Adjudicator Albert Mendoza writes, “Throughout the quintet, the counterpoint is handled with professional ease, and the array of orchestral gestures is, frankly, stunning.” He continues, “The thoughtfulness given to each of the five voices is impressive and masterfully done.” Adjudicator Wynn-Anne Rossi writes, “An ambitious and satisfying creation! I feel like I just enjoyed a delicious feast. Thank you for composing this.”
Schneider has received commissions from notable organizations, including the Omaha Symphony, the Omaha Conservatory of Music, the Rocky Mountain Summer Conservatory and KVNO classical music station.
Schneider studies music at the Omaha Conservatory of Music and is the current and three-time MTNA Junior State Piano Performance winner (2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22).
About Christina Narwicz
Christina Narwicz bases much of her work on the natural world. Although often abstracted, the painter’s organic themes clearly reference botany, the Caribbean Islands, the constantly changing environment as well as her own garden. Narwicz has exhibited nationally and internationally in both solo and group shows. Her paintings have been featured in publications such as Metropolitan Home, Omaha Magazine, Florida Design Magazine, The Palm Beacher, the World Herald and Vail Luxury Real Estate. Awarded an Artist-in-Residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, she has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mid America Arts Alliance as well as two Individual Artist Fellowship awards. Most recently Narwicz has been nominated for the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant.
“Scientists and artists are distant cousins at the very least. Like a scientist my work is driven by curiosity that feels like what I imagine that kernel that is the first step of scientific exploration must feel like.
My work has always had a spontaneous and multi-streamed direction. Memory and the natural world are the starting points for my image-making. My methods are very different and only a few are remotely of the “Scientific” variety; none-the-less, I am continually searching and chasing my own intuitive experiments and theories. My findings fall into the poetic rather than that of the Journal Scientific.
Natural phenomenon like the physicality of water or the reciprocal qualities of honey and bees that create it fascinate me with their perfunctory and yet abstract qualities. The beginnings are the same as the endings and yet nothing is ever done (finished). These new works are another step in my exploration of collective memory in the context of our place in the cyclical nature of nature and the fluid nature of the mind.”
About Ankush Kumar Bahl
Ankush Kumar Bahl is currently the 13th Music Director in the Omaha Symphony's 102-year history. He is recognized today by orchestras and audiences alike for his impressive conducting technique, thoughtful interpretations, and engaging podium presence. In concert, he has left The Washington Post “wanting to hear more” and has been praised by The New York Times for his “clear authority and enthusiasm” and ability to “inspire.” His recent guest conducting highlights include performances with the New York Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Orchestre National de France, and the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México, the Richmond Symphony, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, D.C.). Summer festival engagements include the Copenhagen Philharmonic at Tivoli, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival, the Chautauqua Institute, and at Wolf Trap with the NSO.
A protégé of former New York Philharmonic Music Director Kurt Masur, Bahl served as his assistant conductor at the Orchestre National de France from 2008-2011. From 2011-2015, he served as the assistant conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. In addition to Maestro Masur, Bahl is fortunate to count Jaap van Zweden, Zdenek Macal, Christoph Eschenbach, David Zinman and Gianandrea Noseda among his mentors.
Tickets for Elgar & Bolero start at $20. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.omahasymphony.org, through the Ticket Omaha app, or by calling Ticket Omaha at 402.345.0606. Student rush tickets are $10 and can be purchased one hour before the performance. Performance dates are subject to change. In the event of performance changes or cancellations, the Omaha Symphony will email ticket holders to inform them of new dates and ticketing options. Patrons with questions may email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Omaha Symphony also regularly posts performance updates at omahasymphony.org, along with the Omaha Symphony’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. Patrons can sign up for the latest updates at omahasymphony.org.
Thank you to our Masterworks Series sponsor Omaha Steaks.
The Omaha Symphony is a non-profit organization that presents more than 100 live orchestral performances from September through June. In addition to Masterworks, Symphony Pops, Symphony Rocks, Movies, Symphony Joslyn, and Family series concerts, the Omaha Symphony’s nationally recognized education and community engagement programs touch the lives of more than 40,000 people each year. For tickets or information regarding the Omaha Symphony, call 402.345.0606 or visit omahasymphony.org. Programs, artists, dates, times, prices, and availability are subject to change.