Melia Watras: Schumann Resonances Album Release Celebration

Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - 7:30pm
FREE and open to the public
Melia Watras Schumann Resonances CD cover
Two days in advance of the official release of her latest album, Schumann Resonances, violist/composer Melia Watras hosts a short celebration, with three special guests from the disc: Richard Karpen (composer), Cuong Vu (trumpet/composer) and Michael Jinsoo Lim (violin).

The event is free and open to the public.
Free Schumann Resonances CDs will be given out to the first 50 guests.


Artist Bios

Michael Jinsoo Lim

Violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim has been praised for playing with “delicious abandon” by Gramophone, described as “bewitching” and “masterful” by the Seattle Times, and hailed by the Los Angeles Times as a “conspicuously accomplished champion of contemporary music.” He is concertmaster and solo violinist of the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra (“surely the best ballet band in America”—New York Times) and serves as artistic director and violinist of the Seattle-based ensemble Frequency. 

Recent highlights include the world premiere of Andrew Waggoner’s Violin Concerto, appearances as soloist for the Stravinsky Violin Concerto at New York’s City Center (as part of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 2016 NYC tour), and performances of concertos by Prokofiev and Stravinsky with PNB during the 2016-17 season. Lim will travel with the company in the summer of 2018 to perform Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in Paris.

For twenty years, Lim toured and recorded with the Corigliano Quartet, a group he co-founded. With the quartet, he won the Grand Prize at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and the ASCAP/CMA Award for Adventurous Programming, and performed in the nation’s leading music centers, including Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, and the Kennedy Center. The quartet’s Naxos label CD was honored as one of The New Yorker’s Ten Best Classical Recordings of the Year.

As a theater artist, Lim appeared in director Nick Schwartz-Hall’s Tempo of Recollection, a show about composer Erwin Schulhoff, and served as music consultant for Seattle Repertory Theatre’s production of Opus, directed by Braden Abraham. Lim has performed onstage with Pacific Northwest Ballet in George Balanchine’s Duo Concertante and Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain. Lim has also worked as a record producer on three critically acclaimed albums by violist Melia Watras and co-producer on a fourth.

Lim attended Indiana University, where he was a pupil of the legendary Josef Gingold. He later studied chamber music at the Juilliard School and taught there as an assistant to the Juilliard String Quartet. He currently serves on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts. Lim has recorded for Naxos, Sono Luminus, DreamWorks, Albany, Bridge, CRI, Bayer Records, RIAX and New Focus, and has been heard on NPR programs such as Performance Today and All Things Considered. 

Richard Karpen is a composer and researcher in multiple areas of music and the arts. His compositions for both electronic media and live performance are widely known, recorded, and performed internationally. Over the last 30 years, he has also been in the forefront of the development of computer applications for music composition, interactive performance, and the sonic arts. He recently returned to the stage and the studio as a pianist.

Karpen was the founding director of DXARTS and is currently Director of the School of Music at the University of Washington, where he is also Professor of Music Composition. He has been the recipient of many awards, grants, and prizes, including those from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bourges Contest in France, and the Luigi Russolo Foundation in Italy. Karpen has composed works for many leading international soloists, such as soprano Judith Bettina, violists Garth Knox and Melia Watras, trombonist Stuart Dempster, flutists Laura Chislett and Jos Zwaanenberg, guitarist Stefan Östersjö, and ensembles such as The Six Tones, JACK Quartet, The Seattle Symphony, and the Harry Partch Ensemble. Karpen is a founding member, with Cuong Vu, of the experimental improvisation ensemble Indigo Mist. As a pianist, Karpen has performed and recorded with Cuong Vu, Bill Frisell, Ted Poor, Steve Rodby, and others. Karpen's compositions and performances have been recorded on a variety of labels including Wergo, Centaur, Neuma, Le Chant du Monde, DIFFUSION i MeDIA, Fleur du Son, Capstone, and RareNoise.

Cuong Vu is widely recognized by jazz critics as a leader of a generation of innovative musicians. A truly unique musical voice, Cuong has lent his trumpet playing to a wide range of artists such as Pat Metheny, Laurie Anderson, and David Bowie.

As a youngster, Cuong's intense dedication and love for music led him to a full scholarship at the New England Conservatory of Music where he received his Bachelor of Music in Jazz studies with a distinction in performance. Transitioning from his studies in Boston, he moved to New York in 1994 and began his career actively leading various groups while touring extensively throughout the world. As a leader, Cuong has released eight recordings, each making critics’ lists of the 10 best recordings of their respective years and has received rave reviews from notable publications such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, Harper’s, the Guardian, BBC Music Magazine, JazzTimes and Downbeat. Each record displays how he has carved out a distinctive sonic territory as a trumpet player, blurring all stylistic borders while developing his own compositional aesthetic and sound world.

Awards and honors that Cuong has garnered include grants from the Royalty Research Foundation, the Donald E. Petersen Professorship, ArtistTrust, 4Culture, CityArts and the Colbert Award for Excellence.  Cuong is currently associate professor and chair of Jazz Studies at the University of Washington and was awarded the University of Washington's prestigious Distinguished Teacher Award in his third year on faculty. In 2002 and 2006, Cuong was a recipient of the Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album as a member of the Pat Metheny Group. He’s been recognized as one of the top 50 Jazz Artists in an article called “The New Masters” from the British magazine, “Classic CD” and in 2006 was named the Best International Jazz Artist by the Italian Jazz Critics’ Society. Amazon listed Vu’s “Come Play With Me” on their “The 100 Greatest Jazz Albums of All Time.”

Hailed by Gramophone as “an artist of commanding and poetic personality” and by The Strad as “staggeringly virtuosic,” violist/composer Melia Watras has distinguished herself as one of her instrument’s leading voices. She has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, and Alice Tully Hall, while achieving acclaim as an established recording artist. Upcoming highlights include the release of her new album Schumann Resonances, featuring world premiere recordings of her own compositions, on Planet M Records; the world premiere of a new viola concerto by Richard Karpen, with conductor Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony; and performances in Switzerland. 

Watras’s discography has received considerable attention from the press and the public. The Strad called 26 “a beautiful celebration of 21st century viola music.” Ispirare, which features the world premiere recording of Pulitzer Prize-winner Shulamit Ran’s Perfect Storm (written for Watras), made numerous Best of 2015 lists, including the Chicago Reader’s (“Watras knocked the wind out of me with the dramatically dark beauty of this recording”). Short Stories was a Seattle Times Critics’ Pick, with the newspaper marveling at her “velocity that seems beyond the reach of human fingers.” Of her debut solo CD (Viola Solo), Strings praised her “stunning virtuosic talent” and called her second release (Prestidigitation) “astounding and both challenging and addictive to listen to.” 

Watras’s compositions have been performed in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Bloomington (IN), Denmark and Spain, by artists such as violist Atar Arad, pianist Winston Choi, cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, singer Galia Arad and violinists Manuel Guillén, Yura Lee and Michael Jinsoo Lim. Her music has been heard on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, and can be found on the upcoming album Schumann Resonances and on 26. Watras’s adaptation of John Corigliano’s Fancy on a Bach Air for viola is published by G. Schirmer, Inc. and can be heard on her Viola Solo CD.

Watras is violist of the Seattle-based ensemble, Frequency, for whom she has composed. For twenty years, Watras concertized worldwide and recorded extensively as violist of the renowned Corigliano Quartet, which she co-founded. The ensemble’s album on the Naxos label was honored as one of the Ten Best Classical Recordings of the Year by The New Yorker.  Other chamber music explorations include improvising in concert with jazz innovators Cuong Vu and Ted Poor. 

A versatile performer, Watras has enjoyed collaborations with dance and theater. She appeared as violist/dancer in the premiere of Kathryn Sullivan's At Home, at the Merce Cunningham Studio in New York City. Music from her album Viola Solo was featured in director Sheila Daniels’s production of Crime and Punishment at Intiman Theatre, and she worked as music consultant for Braden Abraham’s production of Opus at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Melia Watras was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and began her musical studies on the piano at age 5. Soon after, she turned to the viola and made her debut at 16, soloing with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Her formal studies took her to Indiana University, where she studied with Atar Arad, earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and the prestigious Performer’s Certificate. While at Indiana, Watras began her teaching career as Professor Arad’s Associate Instructor, and was a member of the faculty as a Visiting Lecturer. She went on to study chamber music at the Juilliard School while serving as a teaching assistant to the Juilliard String Quartet. 

Watras serves as Professor of Viola and chair of Strings at the University of Washington, where she holds the Adelaide D. Currie Cole Endowed Professorship and was previously awarded the Donald E. Petersen Endowed Fellowship and the Royalty Research Fund. Watras has given viola and chamber music classes at schools such as Indiana University, Cleveland Institute of Music, Strasbourg Conservatoire (France), and Chosun University (South Korea). She frequently returns to her alma mater, Indiana, to teach as a guest professor. Watras currently resides in Seattle with her husband, Pacific Northwest Ballet concertmaster Michael Jinsoo Lim. She plays a viola made by Samuel Zygmuntowicz.