Featuring international violin soloist Chee-Yun Kim and the Sacramento Philharmonic, come experience an evening of Beethoven at the Amaral Center lead by guest conductor, Michelle Merrill.
Michelle Merrill, conductor
Chee-Yun Kim, violin
Featuring the Sacramento Philharmonic
Beethoven Symphony No. 4 in Bb Major, Op.60
Beethoven Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
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Chee-Yun Kim, violin
Winner of the 1989 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and the 1990 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Chee-Yun performs regularly with the world’s foremost orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, and the Toronto, Houston, Seattle, Pittsburgh and National symphony orchestras. Additionally, she has appeared with the Atlanta Symphony, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and has performed with such distinguished conductors as Hans Graf, James DePriest, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Michael Tilson Thomas, Krzysztof Penderecki, Neeme Järvi, Pinchas Zukerman, Manfred Honeck and Giancarlo Guerrero. Internationally, Chee-Yun has toured with the Haifa Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Germany’s Braunschweig Orchestra and the MDR Radio Leipzig and performed with the St. Petersburg Camerata, the Bamberg Philharmonic, the Bilbao Symphony, the London Festival Orchestra, the Nagoya Philharmonic, and the KBS Symphony Orchestra. Her orchestral highlights include a concert with the Seoul Philharmonic conducted by Myung-Whun Chung that was broadcast on national network television, a benefit for UNESCO with the Orchestra of St. Lukes at Avery Fisher Hall, and her tours of the United States with the San Francisco Symphony (Michael Tilson Thomas conducting), and Japan with the NHK Symphony. Recent and upcoming engagements include return subscription weeks in Pittsburgh and Jacksonville, as well as the Colorado and Austin symphony orchestras and the National Philharmonic.
As a recitalist, Chee-Yun has performed in many major US cities including New York, Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta. Career highlights include appearances at the Kennedy Center’s “Salute to Slava” gala honoring Mstislav Rostropovich, the Mostly Mozart Festival’s tour to Japan, a performance with Michael Tilson Thomas in the inaugural season of Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, and the US premiere of the Penderecki Sonata No. 2 with pianist Barry Douglas. Other recent highlights include recitals in St. Paul, Buffalo, Washington, DC, Omaha and Scottsdale, duo recitals with cellist Alisa Weilerstein and a performance at the American Ballet Theatre’s fall gala. Firmly committed to chamber music, Chee-Yun has toured with “Music from Marlboro” and appears frequently with Spoleto USA, a project she has been associated with since its inception. Additional chamber music appearances include the Ravinia, Aspen, Bravo! Vail Valley, La Jolla, Caramoor, Green Music, Santa Fe and Bridgewater festivals in the US, the Great Mountains Music Festival in South Korea, the Clandeboye Festival with Camerata Ireland in Northern Ireland, the Opera Theatre and Music Festival in Lucca, Italy, the Colmar Festival in France, the Beethoven and Penderecki festivals in Poland and the Kirishima Festival in Japan.
Chee-Yun has received exceptional acclaim as a recording artist since the release of her debut album of virtuoso encore pieces in 1993. Her recent recording of the Penderecki Violin Concerto No. 2 on Naxos was acclaimed as “an engrossing, masterly performance” (The Strad Magazine) and “a performance of staggering virtuosity and musicality” (American Record Guide). Her releases on the Denon label include Mendelssohn’s E Minor Violin Concerto, Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concerto No. 5, Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole, and Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3, with the London Philharmonic under the direction of Maestro Lopez-Cobos, a disc of three French violin sonatas (Debussy, Saint-Saëns and Fauré), and the violin sonatas of Szymanowski and Franck. Her most recent Denon disc features the violin sonatas of Brahms and Strauss. Two compilation discs, Vocalise d’amour, and The Very Best of Chee-Yun, feature highlights of Chee-Yun’s earlier recordings. In 2007, Chee-Yun recorded the Beethoven Triple Concerto with Camerata Ireland, pianist Barry Douglas and cellist Andrés Diaz, for Satirino Records. In 2008, Decca/Korea released “Serenata Notturno,” an album of light classics that went platinum within six months of its release.
Chee-Yun has been heard frequently on National Public Radio’s Performance Today and on WQXR and WNYC radio in New York City. She has also been featured on KTV, a children’s program on the cable network CNBC, Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion”, on Public Radio International and numerous syndicated and local radio programs across the United States and abroad. She has appeared on PBS as a special guest on Victor Borge’s Then and Now 3, in a live broadcast at Spivey Hall in Atlanta concurrent with the Olympic Games, and on ESPN performing the theme for the X Games. In Fall 2009, she also appeared in an episode of HBO’s hit series, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Chee-Yun’s first public performance at age 8 took place in her native Seoul after she won the Grand Prize of the Korean Times Competition. At 13, she came to the United States and was invited to perform the Vieuxtemps Concerto No. 5 in a Young People’s Concert with the New York Philharmonic. Two years later, she appeared as soloist with the New York String Orchestra under Alexander Schneider at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In 1989, she won the Young Concert Artist’s international competition, and a year later became the recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. In Korea, Chee-Yun studied with Nam Yun Kim. In the United States, she has worked with Dorothy DeLay, Hyo Kang, Daniel Phillips and Felix Galimir (chamber music) at The Juilliard School.
In addition to her active performance and recording schedule, Chee-Yun is a dedicated and enthusiastic educator. She gives master classes around the world and has held several teaching posts at notable music schools and universities. Her past faculty positions have included serving as the resident Starling Soloist and Adjunct Professor of Violin at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Visiting Professor of Music (Violin) at Indiana University School of Music. In August 2007, she was appointed Artist-in-Residence and Professor of Violin at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Chee-Yun plays the Stradivarius “Ex-Strauss” (Cremona, 1708), which is on loan through the generous efforts of the Samsung Foundation of Culture of Korea and the Stradivari Society of Chicago, Illinois.
Michelle Merrill, conductor
Rapidly rising conductor Michelle Merrill currently serves as the Associate Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra where she also carries the title of Phillip and Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador. A passionate and dynamic artist, Ms. Merrill was named as one of Hour Detroit Magazine’s 3 Cultural Organization Leaders to Watch, and made her classical subscription debut with the DSO in April 2016 She is also a recipient of a 2016 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award.
Recent and upcoming engagements include the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic, Symphoria (Syracuse), Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera, Boise Philharmonic, Orlando Philharmonic, New Music Detroit, and the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, where she formerly served as Assistant Conductor before coming to Detroit. As the Associate Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, she helps plan and conduct over 30 concerts per season, including the renowned educational webcasts, which have reached over 100,000 students to date in classrooms throughout the nation. Ms. Merrill also gives pre-concert lectures, leads adult music education seminars, engages with students in and around Metro Detroit, speaks on behalf of the DSO throughout the community, and participates in hosting Live from Orchestra Hall, the DSO’s free concert webcast that launched in 2011 and is now watched in more than 100 countries.
In March of 2014, Ms. Merrill stepped in on short notice with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra for their performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4, which music critic Scott Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News described as “stunning” and later named to his list of Top Ten Classical Performances of 2014. She was awarded in 2013 the prestigious Ansbacher Conducting Fellowship by members of the Vienna Philharmonic and the American Austrian Foundation, which enabled her to be in residence at the world-renowned Salzburg Festival. Recent praise came from her classical debut with the DSO conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6: “from the off this was a heavenly ‘Pastoral’…Merrill (conducting from memory) certainly has an ear for focused inner parts, and her meaningful flexibility was welcome…There was something reassuringly old-world about this performance (reminding of but not emulating such views of the music as Böhm, Boult and Klemperer) yet with a New World bloom that trod freshly-mown grass and also looked skywards…”
A strong advocate of new music, Ms. Merrill recently collaborated with New Music Detroit for their annual marathon Strange Beautiful Music 9, which featured David Lang’s “are you experienced?” and the world-premiere of Andrew Harrison’s “Hum” based on the poetry of Detroit native Jamal May. She worked with composer Gabriela Lena Frank and soprano Jessica Rivera in 2015 on Frank’s work La Centinela y la Paloma (The Keeper and the Dove), as a part of numerous community programs related to the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts. In June 2015, she made her debut at the St. Augustine Music Festival conducting the world-premiere performance of Piotr Szewcyzk’s “St. Augustine Suite” which was written in honor of that city’s 450th anniversary. The highly praised performance was later featured nationwide on NPR’s “Performance Today”. Additionally, her work in the 2011/12 season with Voices of Change, Dallas’s professional contemporary music ensemble, was part of a program later named as one of Dallas Morning News critic Scott Cantrell’s Top Ten Classical Performances of 2011.
Born in Dallas, TX, Ms. Merrill studied conducting with Dr. Paul C. Phillips at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts, where she holds a Master of Music Degree in conducting and a Bachelor of Music in performance. Apart from music, she loves cooking, running, hiking, and spending time outdoors with her husband, Steve Merrill, who serves as the principal percussionist of the Jacksonville Symphony.