February 22, 2013

NEC’s Trio Cleonice Presents Richard Wernick World Premiere, March 14 in Jordan Hall

Cleonice Current Ensemble in Professional Piano Trio Training Program

Trio Cleonice (violinist Ari Isaacman-Beck, cellist Gwen Krosnick, and pianist Emely Phelps), the current ensemble in residence in NEC’s Professional Piano Trio Training Program, will present the world premiere of Richard Wernick’s Piano Trio No. 2 “The Traits of Messina,” March 14 at 8 p.m. in NEC’s Jordan Hall.  The trio is now in the second year of the two-year program directed by pianist Vivian Hornik Weilerstein. Other works on their program are the Beethoven Piano Trio in E-flat major, Op. 70, no. 2 and Schubert Piano Trio in E-flat major, Op. 100. The concert is free and open to the public. (Susan Wilson photo, above)

Formed in 2008 at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, the Trio takes its name from the restaurant Cleonice in nearby Ellsworth, Maine, where the musicians have been habitués during the summer. Not surprisingly, the players derive perhaps almost equal pleasure from music-making, fine dining, and cooking—pleasure that they express in their blog, Grilled Octopus and the Archduke.

Piano trios by contemporary American composers form a major part of Trio Cleonice’s repertoire and the music of Richard Wernick holds a special place in the group’s affections. Indeed, cellist Gwen Krosnick has known Wernick since she was a teenager growing up as the daughter of Joel Krosnick, cellist of the Juilliard String Quartet. She has performed two solo cello suites Wernick wrote for her after she suggested he compose something especially for her. The Trio has worked extensively with the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer on his first Piano Trio, including premiering previously-unperformed sections of the work. They commissioned the second Piano Trio.

Other contemporary works in the Trio’s repertory include the 1980 Piano Trio by Arthur Berger, performed on the 2012 Composers Series in Jordan Hall as well as the ensemble’s Jordan Hall performance in April 2012. In addition to the upcoming premiere of Wernick’s new trio, Trio Cleonice has premiered works by Rodney Lister and Russell O’Rourke.

Trio Cleonice
Trio Cleonice’s 2011-2012 season included debuts in Boston’s Jordan Hall (in Andrew Hurlbut photo right) and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The trio gave performances at Oberlin Conservatory and Elmira College, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and NYU’s La Maison Française. The Trio also held performance and teaching residencies in Blue Hill, Maine and in Frederick, Maryland. The trio was top prizewinner at the 2012 J.C. Arriaga Chamber Music Competition in Stamford, Connecticut, and will appear as part of the Treetops Chamber Music Society’s 2012-2013 calendar.

Highlights of the current season have included, in the Boston area, a free community performance in Jordan Hall as part of the Fenway Cultural District’s “Opening Our Doors Day”; a recital at the Old South Meeting House; and the group’s debut on the Concord Chamber Music Society series. Trio Cleonice is also appearing up and down the east coast, with residencies in Blue Hill, Maine and Frederick, Maryland, as well as performances in New York and Philadelphia, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Woodstock, Vermont, and Jacksonville, Florida. As has been the case since the group’s first year together, Trio Cleonice began the 2012-2013 season with a pair of concerts at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Castine, Maine, featuring new American piano trios in addition to major works from the canon.

Ari Isaacman-Beck
Violinist Ari Isaacman-Beck, originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, was the second-prizewinner at the Sion-Valais International Violin Competition, during which he appeared as soloist in the Tonhalle in Zürich with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Shlomo Mintz. Following the competition, he was praised by the Swiss newspaper Le Nouveliste for his “impressive, masterful finesse.”

Isaacman-Beck has performed frequent solo recitals throughout the midwest and on the east coast, and appeared with the New York City Ballet Orchestra in the ensemble’s 2010 New York and summer seasons. Prior to three summers at Kneisel Hall, Isaacman-Beck participated in the ENCORE School for Strings in Ohio.

Isaacman-Beck received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music as a student of David Updegraff; while at the Cleveland Institute, he received the Joseph and Elsie Scharff Prize in Violin. At the New England Conservatory, he was the recipient of the Borromeo String Quartet’s Guest Artist Award and performed the Mendelssohn Octet in Jordan Hall alongside the Borromeo Quartet, and, among other colleagues, Trio Cleonice’s cellist, Gwen Krosnick.

Isaacman-Beck received his Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Ronald Copes, as well as a Professional Studies Diploma from Mannes as a student of Laurie Smukler and Mark Steinberg. Isaacman-Beck has performed as soloist with the Cleveland Bach Consort, the Minnetonka Symphony, and the MacPhail Orchestra.

During Trio Cleonice’s residency at the New England Conservatory, Isaacman-Beck is a Graduate Diploma Candidate as a student of Donald Weilerstein and serves on the chamber music faculty of New England Conservatory’s Preparatory Division.

Gwen Krosnick
Cellist Gwen Krosnick, from Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, received her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees after completing the double-degree program at Oberlin College and Conservatory, where she majored in Russian Language and Literature and studied with Darrett Adkins. Krosnick premiered works written for her by Ralph Shapey (Prelude and Scherzando for Cello and Piano) and Richard Wernick (Suites No. 1 and No. 2 for Unaccompanied Cello). She has been described by the Jewish Daily Forward as “an exuberantly gifted cellist.”

Krosnick is an alumna of the Kronberg Cello Masterclasses and of the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove; she returns to participate in Prussia Cove’s 40th-anniversary Open Chamber Music Festival in September 2012. Krosnick was the winner of the Cleveland Cello Society’s Agnew Prize for Bach and participated as a baroque cellist in a residency at the Juilliard School with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants. She has appeared in masterclasses for Frans Helmerson, Gary Hoffman, and Ralph Kirshbaum and studied, in addition to Darrett Adkins, with violinist Laurie Smukler and music theorist Brian Alegant.

Prior to her years at Kneisel Hall, Krosnick spent four summers at Greenwood Music Camp, where she returned as a counselor in 2010 and 2011, and whose Board of Directors she joined in 2011. In the summer of 2012, she will be a young artist at the Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival and will teach at Greenwood’s Junior Camp.

Krosnick has given masterclasses at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, and the Peabody Institute of Music, and spent 2010-2012 on the faculty of the New York Youth Symphony Chamber Music Program. While Trio Cleonice is in residence at New England Conservatory, Krosnick is pursuing a Master of Music degree as a student of Natasha Brofsky, and serves on the Preparatory Division chamber music faculty.

Emely Phelps
Emely Phelps, pianist, has been praised by the Boston Globe for her “fleet, energetic, and bright-toned” playing. A native of Frederick, Maryland, Phelps studied with Marjorie Lee and Carole Kriewaldt before receiving her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees as a student of Julian Martin at the Juilliard School.  While at Juilliard, Phelps was the recipient of the John Erskine Prize for academic and artistic achievement.

As a soloist and chamber musician, she has performed across the United States and Canada, in venues including the Mansion at Strathmore Hall, Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, Alice Tully Hall, and Meredith College.  Phelps has also been a soloist with ensembles including the National Symphony Orchestra, Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra, and the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic, and recently appeared as a guest artist with the Borromeo String Quartet in a performance of the Dvorak Piano Quintet in Boston’s Jordan Hall.

In addition to three years at Kneisel Hall, Phelps has spent summers at the Banff International Keyboard Masterclass, the Sergei Babayan International Piano Academy, and the Cliburn Institute at Texas Christian University.  She served as a staff accompanist at the Juilliard School from 2007-2012, and is now employed in the same capacity at the New England Conservatory. While Trio Cleonice is in residence at the New England Conservatory, Phelps is a Graduate Diploma candidate as a student of Vivian Weilerstein and Stephen Drury; she is on the chamber music faculty of the Conservatory’s Preparatory Division.

For further information, check the NEC Website or call the NEC Concert Line at 617-585-1122.  NEC’s Jordan Hall, Brown Hall, Williams Hall and the Keller Room are located at 30 Gainsborough St., corner of Huntington Ave. St. Botolph Hall is located at 241 St. Botolph St. between Gainsborough and Mass Ave.


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory in Boston, MA offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, contemporary improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Programs and Partnerships Program, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music, jazz, and contemporary improvisation.

NEC presents more than 900 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, century-old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz, contemporary improvisation, and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre or Paramount Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Senior Communications Specialist
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115