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Music Masters to Share Their Expertise

Eminent artists and teachers to coach Bienen School music students

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Guitarist Sharon Isbin, cellist Lynn Harrell and pianist Richard Goode are just a few of the renowned guest artists who will be presenting master classes or lectures on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus this spring.

Northwestern’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music will host 16 such programs in various disciplines from late March through early June. Fifteen are admission-free.

These events provide a rare opportunity for Northwestern music students to meet and benefit from working with some of the greatest performers and distinguished teachers of our time. They also allow the public to see and hear the process that normally takes place behind closed doors of classrooms or studios on campus.

For those who have never attended one of these informal programs, master classes are advanced music classes taught by accomplished artists. These highly experienced musicians individually instruct students in performance and technique. During the session, the experts may demonstrate how a certain instrument or work should be played or provide a bit of history related to the piece. Visiting artists often share their personal performance experiences with the students they are coaching and audience members.

Open to the public, the following events will take place on the University’s Evanston campus at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive; Lutkin Hall, 700 University Place; or Regenstein Recital Hall, 60 Arts Circle Drive, as noted. Admission is free, unless otherwise noted.

• Two-time Grammy Award-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin will present a master class featuring Bienen School guitar students at 4 p.m. Friday, March 30, in Regenstein Recital Hall. Isbin’s catalogue of more than 25 recordings ranges from Baroque to jazz.

• Violinist Jennifer Koh’s master class for Bienen School violin students at 10 a.m. Friday, April 6, will take place in Regenstein Recital Hall. Koh is winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the Concert Artists Guild Competition and the Avery Fisher Career Grant and has also performed with orchestras and conductors across the country and abroad. 

Julien Labro, Alexander Sevastian, Jimmy Keane and Dwayne Dopsie will co-present an Accordion and Bandoneon Discussion and Demonstration at 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 6, in Regenstein Recital Hall. They will guide the audience through a variety of music styles, including jazz, tango, classical, Celtic and zydeco. 

• Violin pedagogue Paul Kantor will coach Bienen violin students during a 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 10 master class in Regenstein Recital Hall. Kantor is the Eleanor H. Biggs Memorial Distinguished Professor of Violin at the Cleveland Institute of Music and has served on the faculties of The Juilliard School, the New England Conservatory and Yale University as well as the Aspen Music Festival and School.

• Cellist Lynn Harrell continues his Bienen School residency with classes for Northwestern cello and string students that will all be held in Regenstein Recital Hall. Harrell will give cello master classes at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 11 and 4 p.m. Thursday, April 12, and a chamber music master class at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12.

• The Prairie Winds Quintet, which maintains an annual residency at Wisconsin’s Madeline Island Music Festival, will coach Bienen School chamber music students at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in the Pick-Staiger Rehearsal Room, accessible from Pick-Staiger’s Ticket Office entrance at the south end of the building. 

• Guitarist Eduardo Fernandez will present a master class for Bienen School guitar students at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 15, in Regenstein Recital Hall. During the course of Fernandez’s career, he has toured the world, won countless awards and recorded 18 albums for Decca that feature many first recordings of classical guitar master works. He also is a composer, educator, author and researcher. 

Harold Hall Robinson’s master class for Bienen School bassists at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 15, will be held in Pick-Staiger’s rehearsal room. Robinson is the principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra and a faculty member at the Curtis Institute of Music. He has been featured as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia, National Symphony, Houston Symphony and American Chamber orchestras. Use the Pick-Staiger Ticket Office entrance. 

Richard Goode, the inaugural winner of Northwestern University’s $50,000 Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance, returns to Northwestern for a piano master featuring Bienen School students at 7 p.m. Monday, April 30, in Lutkin Hall. Tickets are $6 for the general public and $4 for students. 

• Violinist Shmuel Ashkenasi will share his expertise with Bienen School violin students in a chamber music master class at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 5, in the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall rehearsal room. Ashkenasi is on the faculties of Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Use the Pick-Staiger Ticket Office entrance.

• Violinist Miriam Fried, artistic director of Ravinia’s Steans Institute, will present a violin master class for Bienen School violin students at 4:30 p.m. Monday, May 7, in Lutkin Hall. Fried has performed with the Boston and Chicago symphonies, the Berlin, BCC, St. Petersburg and Czech philharmonics, and the Orchestre de Paris.

• Violist Korey Konkol will coach Bienen School viola students in a master class at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 8, in Regenstein Recital Hall. Konkol has served as principal violist with the Ann Arbor, Peoria and Knox-Galesburg Symphony orchestras and is the recipient of an American Viola Society Founders Award.

Tong Weidong, associate professor and chief executive of the Violin and Viola Teaching and Research Office at the Beijing Central Conservatory, will present a master class for Bienen School violinists at 4:30 p.m. Monday, May 14, in Regenstein Recital Hall. 

• On Tuesday, May 29, saxophonist Lars Mlekusch, a graduate of Switzerland’s Basel Conservatory and Northwestern University, will present an 11 a.m. lecture on contemporary music and a 2 p.m. master class featuring Bienen School saxophone students. Both events will take place in Regenstein Recital Hall. 

• Pianist Jeremy Denk will coach Bienen School piano students at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 31, in Lutkin Hall. Denk has appeared as soloist with major ensembles, including the San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and London Philharmonia. 

• Bienen School guitar faculty member Anne Waller and Jason Vieaux, head of the Cleveland Institute of Music’s guitar department, will lead a two-way Internet master class in conjunction with the Cleveland Institute’s 12th annual Classical Guitar Weekend at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 2, in Regenstein Recital Hall.

For more information, call the Pick-Staiger Concert Office at (847) 491-5441 or visit To order tickets call the Pick-Staiger Ticket Office at (847) 467-4000 or visit