UW Strings students perform concerto movements for outside judges, competing for a chance to perform with the University of Washington Symphony. Adjudicators for the competition are Eric Kean, viola, and Julia Tai, violin and conducting.
1. Allegro molto appassionato
Flora Cummings, viola
Violist Eric Kean graduated With Distinction from Cornell University with a degree in Statistics and pursued the viola at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Since that time he has performed with the Seattle Symphony, Cleveland Opera and Cleveland Pops. In addition to orchestral playing, he is an active chamber musician, performing as a member of the faculty string quartet at Western Washington University and performing as a member of the Bellingham Chamber Players, a chamber music group he co-founded in 2002. This April he will be performing in a sextet with members of the Seattle Symphony on the Music of Remembrance series, a series devoted to performing music written by survivors of the Holocaust.
Aside from performing classically, he has performed with a variety of artists from different musical genres. He recorded a CD as a member of the Mango String Quartet that featured Filipino folk music. He has also performed with What the Chelm, a Bellingham based Klesmer group. Most recently, he performed a work for 2 Celtic violists and percussion at the 2002 International Viola Congress. In addition to teaching viola at Western Washington University, Eric teaches full time in the mathematics department.
Praised by the Seattle Times as “poised yet passionate,” Taiwanese-American conductor Julia Tai is becoming one of today’s most dynamic and engaging conductors on the international stage. Currently in her fourth season as Music Director of the Missoula Symphony Orchestra & Chorale, she has established a reputation for her creative programming, community engagement, and innovative education programs. Her career has led to acclaimed performances and rehearsals with the American Youth Symphony, Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic (Czech Republic), Boise Philharmonic, Brandenburger Symphoniker (Germany), Estonian National Youth Symphony (Estonia), Lexington Philharmonic, New Symphony Orchestra (Bulgaria), Orquesta Filarmónica de la UNAM (Mexico), Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Charlos Chávez (Mexico), Philharmonia Northwest, and the Seattle Symphony.
Tai has increased the esteem of her orchestras by elevating its artistic output, commissioning new works by renown composers, and serving diverse communities. In 2017, in collaboration with Finlandia Foundation, she celebrated Finland’s centennial by presenting Finland 100 at Benaroya Hall, featuring three generations of Finnish composers. The concert was attended by Finland’s ambassador to the U.S. from Washington D.C. In 2018, she presented an all-Taiwanese composers’ concert again at Benaroya Hall, featuring musicians from all over the U.S., Canada, and Taiwan. Her orchestras have co-commissioned new works by PDQ Bach (Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra), Mexican composer Osvaldo Mendoza (Three Mexican Portraits), Chinese-American composer Dorothy Chang (Gateways – Concerto for Erhu and Piano), Vivian Fung (Trumpet Concerto), Sheila Silver (Being in Life – Concerto for French horn and Alpenhorn, 5 Tibetan singing bowls, and string orchestra), and have premiered new works by Orlando Jacinto Garcia, Donald O. Johnston, Pascal Le Boeuf, Kate Soper, Andrew Waggoner, and Wang Lu.
Recognized as a prominent innovator of the contemporary music world, Julia Tai is the conductor and Co-Artistic Director of the Seattle Modern Orchestra, which champions the music of today. The orchestra “operates at that exciting cusp between old and new, between tradition and innovation,” (Vanguard Seattle) and is where “the future is more likely to be found” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker). Tai has worked with legendary composers, performers, and ensembles such as Robert Aitken, Séverine Ballon, Claire Chase, Stephen Drury, Jonathan Harvey, Graeme Jennings, Darius Jones, Garth Knox, Tristan Murail, Carol Robinson, Steven Schick, Seattle Chamber Players, International Contemporary Ensemble and Ensemble Modern. Under her direction, Seattle Modern Orchestra is a grant recipient of NewMusicUSA, The Amphion Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Washington State Arts Commission, 4Culture, and Seattle Office of Arts and Culture.
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Julia Tai began her violin studies at age four and piano at eight. She received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where she was awarded “Outstanding Graduate.” She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Washington. She studied conducting with Peter Erös and Jorge Mester, and has participated in masterclasses with Marin Alsop, JoAnn Falletta, Neeme Järvi, Daniel Lewis, Gustav Meier, Otto-Werner Müller, Jorma Panula, and Larry Rachleff.