Faculty Recital: Craig Sheppard, Cristina Valdés, Bonnie Whiting with James Benoit: Bartók, Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion

$20 General; $15 UW Affiliate (UW faculty, staff, UW retiree, UWAA member); $10 students/seniors

 Faculty pianists Craig Sheppard and Cristina Valdés, faculty percussionist Bonnie Whiting, and Seattle principal timpanist James Benoit perform this exhilarating and popular work, written in 1937. 

Masks are required in all indoor spaces on the UW campus, and patrons must show proof of vaccination or recent (within 72 hours of the performance) negative COVID-19 test for entry to live events at Meany Hall. Enhanced sanitation measures and touchless ticketing are among other safety measures in effect for 2021-22. Details of these policies and procedures are athttps://artsevents.washington.edu/covid-protocols 


Artist Bios

James Benoit

James Benoit, a native of Niskayuna, New York, is the Principal Timpanist of the Seattle Symphony. Previously, Benoit was the Associate Principal Percussionist and Assistant Principal Timpanist with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and spent three seasons as a section percussionist with the Sarasota Opera. 

As an educator, Benoit was on faculty at the University of Pittsburgh and at the Luzerne Music Center. An avid supporter of music in the classroom, he also has worked as a teaching and performing artist with Associate Solo Artists, a non-profit organization that provides artistic interdisciplinary programs to children, teachers, businesses, and social establishments, by giving concerts, masterclasses, and workshops in schools throughout New York.

Benoit received his Artist Diploma from Duquesne University, his Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School and his Bachelor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music.

Craig Sheppard is a renowned pedagogue whose former students hold positions in major universities and conservatories in this country and around the world, including England, Germany, Argentina, Chile, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Known for his passion at the keyboard, allied to technical mastery and a deep commitment to both scholarly and historical perspectives, Sheppard celebrates more than fifty years on the international concert platform.  He has performed his most recent projects, the 24 Préludes and Fugues of Shostakovich, Opus 87, and Bach's The Art of Fugue in New York, London, Shanghai, The Forbidden Concert Hall Beijing, Jerusalem, and Oslo, as well as numerous universities and conservatories in the U.S.  His CDs of the Shostakovich met with critical acclaim in both national and international press.  In the July, 2016 issue of Fanfare magazine, Peter Rabinowitz writes: “What’s especially impressive is Sheppard’s sense of the music’s changing landscapes, his ability to shape its emotional trajectories.  This is a set full of interpretive astuteness that repays repeated listening.”  Bryce Morrison writes in the February, 2016 issue of Gramophone: “…clearly at the zenith of his career, he achieves a brilliantly inclusive poise and brio that go to the very heart of Shostakovich.  He ends the Fugue No. 24 in a blaze of maestoso glory and a storm of cheers.  Finely recorded, this is a memorable issue.”

In the April, 2011 issue of London’s International Record Review of Sheppard’s Last Three Piano Sonatas by Franz Schubert, Robert Matthew-Walker noted: ‘It was Hans Keller who said that All great artists are, by virtue of what they do, also great teachers, and those who have heard Sheppard’s recent recording on the Roméo label – particularly the complete Beethoven sonatas and Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, Books I and II – will know the truth of that statement.  The City of Seattle and the students at its University are indeed fortunate to have him in their midst.’  Sheppard’s recital début at the Berlin Philharmonic, featuring Chopin’s 24 Préludes and Bach’s Goldberg Variations, caused one critic to enthuse: ‘The pianist revealed himself an intimate connoisseur of Bach’s soul.’  Following Sheppard’s appearance at a recent Minnesota Beethoven Festival, the reviewer exclaimed: ‘With the recitals of Yo-Yo Ma and Craig Sheppard, the festival is off to a great start!’   

Craig Sheppard was born in Philadelphia and graduated both the Curtis Institute and the Juilliard School, studying with Eleanor Sokoloff and Sasha Gorodnitzki respectively.  He worked at the Marlboro Festival with Rudolf Serkin and Pablo Casals and in London with Ilona Kabos, Peter Feuchtwanger and Sir Clifford Curzon.  He gave his New York début in January, 1972 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and six months later won the Silver Medal at the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition.  Moving to London the following year, he played with all the major British orchestras on multiple occasions, as well as many on the European continent and many major orchestras in this country, working with conductors such as Erich Leinsdorf, Sir Georg Solti, Kurt Sanderling, James Levine, Michael Tilson Thomas, Aaron Copland, Yehudi Menuhin, Esa-Pekka Salonen, David Zinman and Leonard Slatkin.  Sheppard taught at Lancaster University, the Yehudi Menuhin School, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in addition to giving masterclasses at both Oxford and Cambridge universities. 

Sheppard returned to this country in 1993 as Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington’s School of Music, becoming a Full Professor in 2004.  Sheppard’s repertoire is eclectic, comprising forty-plus recital programs and over sixty concerti spanning all major eras of Western classical music.  He has collaborated with Wynton Marsalis, José Carreras, Ida Handel, Sylvia Rosenberg, Victoria de los Angeles, Irina Arkhipova, the Cleveland, Bartók and Emerson String Quartets, in addition to musicians of the younger generation, including James Ehnes, Stefan Jackiw, Richard O’Neill, Edward Arron and Johannes Moser.  He travels frequently to Europe, the Far East, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and South America to give concerts and masterclasses.

In 2010, Sheppard co-founded the annual Seattle Piano Institute with colleague, Dr. Robin McCabe, a musical boot camp for gifted young pianists that includes frequent private lessons along with supervised practice in dedicated practice rooms, masterclasses and seminars.  Sheppard's CDs can be found on the Roméo, AT-Berlin, Philips, Sony and Chandos labels.

Cristina Valdés, piano

Pianist Cristina Valdés presents innovative concerts of standard and experimental repertoire, and is known to “play a mean piano.” A fierce advocate for new music, she has premiered countless works, including many written for her. She has performed across four continents and in venues such as Lincoln Center, Le Poisson Rouge, Miller Theatre, Jordan Hall, and the Kennedy Center. Ms. Valdés has appeared both as a soloist and chamber musician at festivals worldwide including New Music in Miami, the Foro Internacional de Música Nueva in Mexico City, Brisbane Arts Festival, the Festival of Contemporary Music in El Salvador, Havana Contemporary Music Festival, and the Singapore Arts Festival. 

An avid chamber musician and collaborator, Ms. Valdés has toured extensively with the Bang On a Can “All Stars”, and has performed with the Seattle Chamber Players, the Mabou Mines Theater Company, the Parsons Dance Company, and Antares. Her performances on both the Seattle Symphony’s Chamber Series and [UNTITLED] concerts have garnered critical acclaim, including her “knockout” (Seattle Times) performance of Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, and her “arrestingly eloquent performance” of Dutilleux’s Trois Preludes (Bernard Jacobson/MusicWeb International).

Ms. Valdés has appeared as concerto soloist with the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Philharmonic, the Lake Union Civic Orchestra, Johns Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, the Binghamton Philharmonic, NOCCO, Philharmonia Northwest, the Eastman BroadBand, and the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra, amongst others. In 2015 she performed the piano solo part of the Ives 4th Symphony with the Seattle Symphony under the direction of Ludovic Morlot, which was later released on CD to critical acclaim and made Gramophone’s list of Top 10 Ives Recordings. Other recent recordings include Orlando Garcia’s “From Darkness to Luminosity” with the Málaga Philharmonic on the Toccata Classics label, and the world premiere recording of Kotoka Suzuki’s “Shimmer, Tree | In Memoriam Jonathan Harvey”. She can also be heard on the Albany, Newport Classics, Urtext, and Ideologic Organ labels.

In recent seasons she gave performances of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3, the world-premiere performance of Carlos Sanchez-Guttierez’s “Short Stories” for piano and string orchestra with the Orquesta de Cámara de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, and the U.S. Premiere of “Under Construction” for solo piano and tape playback by Heiner Goebbels at Benaroya Hall. Last season she was the featured soloist with the Seattle Symphony on two of their “[untitled]” new music series concerts.

Ms. Valdés received a Bachelor of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music, and a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from SUNY Stony Brook. She currently lives in Seattle where she founded the SLAM Festival, a new music festival dedicated to the music of Latin-American composers, and performs regularly as a member of the Seattle Modern Orchestra. She is an Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington, and is the Director of the UW Modern Music Ensemble. 

Bonnie Whiting

Bonnie Whiting performs, commissions, and composes new experimental music for percussion. She seeks out projects involving non-traditional notation, interdisciplinary performance, improvisation, and the speaking percussionist. She lives and works in Seattle, WA, where she is Chair of Percussion Studies and an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington School of Music.

Her debut solo album, featuring an original solo-simultaneous realization of John Cage’s 45’ for a speaker and 27’10.554” for a percussionist, was released by Mode Records in April of 2017. Her sophomore album Perishable Structures, launched by New Focus Recordings in August of 2020, places the speaking percussionist in the context of storytelling and features her own music as well as works by Vinko Globokar, Frederic Rzewski, Richard Logan-Greene, and Susan Parenti.

Recent work includes performances as a percussionist and vocalist with the Harry Partch Ensemble on the composer’s original instrumentarium, and a commission from the Indiana State Museum’s Sonic Expeditions series for her piece Control/Resist (2017): a site-specific work for percussion, field recordings, and electronics. Whiting has an ongoing relationship as a soloist with the National Orchestra of Turkmenistan via the U.S. Embassy Cultural Affairs Office, playing concerti in Ashgabat in 2017 and 2018. She collaborates frequently with percussionist Jennifer Torrence, giving concerts of new experimental work for speaking percussionists throughout Norway and the US. Her collaboration with multimedia artist Afroditi Psarra generated the album < null_abc >, released on the Zero Moon label in 2018. Their current project with designer Audrey Desjardins on transcoding data from IoT devices as performance received a 2019/20 Mellon Creative Fellowship. This project was explored in a workshop at the 2020 Transmediale Festival in Berlin, and currently lives as an interactive net art installation. 2021 brings the premiere of Through the Eyes(s): an extractable cycle of nine pieces for speaking/singing percussionist collaboratively developed with composer Eliza Brown and ten incarcerated women, and the world premiere of a new percussion concerto by Huck Hodge with the Seattle Modern Orchestra.

Whiting has presented solo and small ensemble shows at The Stone in New York, the Brackish Series in Brooklyn, The Lilypad in Boston, The New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, at Hallwalls in Buffalo, the Tiny Park Gallery in Austin, The Wulf in LA, the Carl Solway Gallery in Cincinnati, The Grove Haus in Indianapolis, on the Wayward Music Series in Seattle, on tour throughout New Zealand, and at colleges and universities around the country. Whiting has collaborated with many of today's leading new music groups, including red fish blue fish percussion group, (George Crumb’s Winds of Destiny directed by Peter Sellars and featuring soprano Dawn Upshaw for the Ojai Festival), eighth blackbird (the “Tune-in” festival at the Park Avenue Armory), the International Contemporary Ensemble (on-stage featured percussionist/mover in Andriessen’s epic Die Materie at the Park Avenue Armory, and the American premiere of James Dillon’s Nine Rivers at Miller Theatre), Bang on a Can (Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians for the LA Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella Series) and Ensemble Dal Niente (the Fromm Concerts at Harvard.)