Cello faculty artist-in-residence Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir is joined by French-Romanian pianist Alexandra Joan in a recital centered around fin-de-siecle Vienna from a young cellist's view. On the program is Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata, six songs by Brahms and Richard Strauss´ Sonata for cello and piano, along with Webern's Two Pieces (1899) and Three little Pieces Op. 11.
Praised for her vibrant interpretations, the French-Romanian pianist Alexandra Joan is an active soloist and sought-after chamber player who performs extensively in Europe and in the United States. She has appeared at major venues and festivals in Europe, Israel, and the United States, including Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Bargemusic, The Greene Space, La Roque d’Anthéron Festival, Colmar International Festival, and Tel Hai.
She has been a soloist with the “Follia” Chamber Orchestra, the Mulhouse and Montbeliard Symphony Orchestras in France, and the Montenegro Symphony Orchestra.
She is a recipient of the “Vocation” Award in France and has won prizes at the Andorra International Competition, the Arriaga Chamber Music Competition in 2010 (First Prize), and the 2013 Josef Suk International Competition in Prague (Second Prize).
Her recital and chamber music performances have been featured on Radio France, Radio Suisse Romande, Arte TV, and WQXR in New York.
An advocate of new music, she works regularly with young composers and has premiered a number of chamber works. She is the pianist on "Sea of Reeds", an album of Gerald Cohen’s music for clarinet and chamber ensemble released by Navona Records in November 2014.
For three consecutive seasons, Alexandra successfully curated “Kaleidoscope,” a concert series at the WMP Concert Hall in New York, exploring diverse musical themes and bringing different forms of art together.
Alexandra received degrees from the Paris Conservatory and the Juilliard School. Her principal teachers include Rena Shereshevskaya, Brigitte Engerer, and Jerome Lowenthal. In addition, she has worked with artists such as Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Itamar Golan, Vladimir Krainev, Vera Gornastaeva, Pnina Salzman, Emanuel Krasovsky and Ivan Moravec.
Her first CD "Dances and Songs" was released in October 2014 on the Victor Elmaleh Collection.
Alexandra Joan started a Doctoral Program in Music Performance at the CUNY Graduate Center on a full scholarship in the Fall of 2015 and is currently studying with Ursula Oppens and Richard Goode.
“Riveting” (NYTimes) cellist, Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Toronto and Iceland Symphonies, among others, and her recital and chamber music performances have taken her across the US, Europe and Asia. Following the release of her debut recording of Britten’s Suites for Solo Cello on Centaur Records, she has performed in some of the world’s greatest halls including Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall and Disney Hall. The press have described her as “charismatic” (NYTimes) and praised her performances for their “emotional intensity” (LATimes).
An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated in performance with Itzhak Perlman, Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode and members of the Emerson, Guarneri, St. Lawrence and Cavani Quartets and has performed in numerous chamber music festivals, including Santa Fe, Seattle, Orcas Island, Bay Chamber, Prussia Cove and Marlboro, with whom she has toured. She is cellist of the Seattle-based group, Frequency, and cellist and founding member of Decoda, The Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall.
The 2018-2019 season started with a national TV appearance with the Iceland Symphony on their annual “Our Classics” program. Also this season, Sæunn makes her debut with the BBC and Seattle Symphonies performing the award-winning cello concerto, Quake, written for her by Páll Ragnar Pálsson. Chamber music appearances take her to Carnegie Hall in New York City, Seoul, Glasgow, Cleveland and Los Angeles, as well as recitals in Reykjavík, and Chicago following the Spring 2019 release of her recording of Icelandic solo cello music on the Sono Luminus label.
Highlights of the 2017-2018 season include the US premiere of Betsy Jolas’ Wanderlied and the Hong Kong premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Canticle of the Sun, as well as recitals and chamber music appearances in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Glasgow, London and Reykjavík. In addition to commissioning Daníel Bjarnason to write his piece for multi-track celli, Bow to String, Sæunn enjoys close working relationships with composers of our time such as Páll Ragnar Pálsson, Halldór Smárason, Melia Watras, Jane Antonia Cornish and Þuríður Jónsdóttir.
Sæunn has garnered numerous top prizes in international competitions, including the Naumburg Competition and the Antonio Janigro Competition in Zagreb. She received a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music, a Master of Music from The Juilliard School and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from SUNY Stony Brook. Her teachers and mentors include Richard Aaron, Tanya Carey, Colin Carr and Joel Krosnick.
Born in Reykjavík, Iceland, Sæunn serves on the faculty of the University of Washington in Seattle, teaching cello and chamber music. For more information, please visit www.saeunn.com