Faculty Recital: Kenneth Radnofsky, Saxophone

NEC: Jordan Hall | Directions

290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA
United States

Saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky presents his annual recital which features Prayer for solo saxophone by Lera Auerbach and world premieres by Lingbo Ma '24 DMA, Yangfan Xu '25 DMA, and Francine Trester.  He will share the stage with guest artists Francine Trester and Klaudia Szlachta (violin), Scott Woolweaver (viola), Leo Eguchi (cello), and pianists Thomas Weaver and Ziang Yin '25 MM.

This is an in-person event with a private stream available to the NEC community here: https://necmusic.edu/live

  1. Lingbo Ma '24 DMA | Fantasy on Kurt Weill's 'Youkali' (2024)

    World Premiere, commissioned by Kenneth Radnofsky

    Program note and bio

    Youkali Fantasy is a reimagination of Kurt Weill’s song Youkali for alto saxophone and piano. “Youkali” is a small utopian island that exists at the end of the world where happiness and dreams lie. In the Fantasy, I give freedom to both parts by writing a quasi-improvisatory introduction and an interlude for the piano and a cadenza for the saxophone. While the original habanera rhythm is preserved, the use of melodic variations, contrapuntal interactions, colorful harmonies, and expanded registers enriches the tango. The piece is commissioned by and dedicated to saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky.                                                    
    – Lingbo Ma ’24 DMA

    Lingbo Ma is a Chinese-born, US-based composer and pianist whose work has been performed in the USA, China, and Europe. She strives for unique ways of reaching the ultimate simplicity and clarity while unfolding diverse narratives in her music. She has been commissioned twice (in 2020 and 2022) by the Dutch National Opera who premiered her works as part of their opera projects in Amsterdam. In the 2022-23 season, she was a Blueprint Fellow at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY, and a Collage Fellow at Collage New Music in Boston, MA, where her two commissioned pieces received premiere performances. In addition to composing, Lingbo enjoys arranging music of all genres and performs frequently as a collaborative pianist.   
         Lingbo obtained her Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School, and is now pursuing a doctorate at New England Conservatory. Her composition mentors are Kati Agócs, Robert Beaser, and Michael Gandolfi. 

    • Thomas Weaver, piano
  2. Yangfan Xu '25 DMA | Turn Me Into Ocean (2023)

    World Premiere, commissioned by Kenneth Radnofsky

    Program note and bio

    Turn Me Into Ocean was commissioned by Kenneth Radnofsky and draws inspiration from a poem written by the composer about a nocturnal journey through a cityscape leading to a personal transformation and a discovery of solitude.
    – Yangfan Xu ’25 DMA

    Turn Me Into Ocean
    I walk down the street at the witching hour,

    The night sky looks like an endless abyss of Coca-Cola. Fizzing, sparkling, bubbling,
    So deep as if to devour everything.
    I can smell midsummer in the air.
    I walk on the sidewalk to the right.
    Streetlights are shaking and blurring,
    And it makes me dizzy in a sober way
    Street lamps are gradually morphing into moons Many different moons above my head.
    I walk down the hill on the sidewalk to the right, Many moons are ramping by.
    I fell headlong into a mass of soft shadows. While the waves hit my soles hard,
    The world turns upside down, Many moons below my feet.

    My limbs are melting away.
    I float in the middle of the ocean. Falling into unconsciousness. My mind turns into an ocean.

    Yangfan Xu, April, 2023

    Yangfan Xu holds a deep passion and love for cats. Whenever she hears a string player glissando in the upper registers, she can’t help but think of a cat's meow. In addition to her feline obsession, Xu is a Chinese-born US-based composer who comes from a musical family in Lanzhou, Gansu province, with a spoiled cat who eats better than everyone else. Xu is the winner of the 2023 Boston New Music Initiative Commission Competition and the winner of Society for New Music's 2021 Israel/ Pellman Award. Xu was awarded the first Prize of the 2020 Hausmann Quartet Quarantine Composition Competition. She won the 2021 New Juilliard Ensemble Composition Competition, and her commissioned work Fantastic Creatures of the Mountains and Seas premiered at the Lincoln Center in a concert by NJE in 2022. Xu has received major commissions from the Impulse New Music Festival, Boston New Music Initiative, saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky and the New York Choreographic Institute affiliated with the New York City Ballet. Her music has been enjoyed by audiences in cities such as New York, San Francisco, Boston, San Diego, Sydney, Beijing, Paris and more. Her compositions have been performed by many professionals including the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Contemporary Orchestra, New Juilliard Ensemble, Friction Quartet, Hausmann Quartet, SFCM New Music Ensemble, Choral Chameleon, Keyed Kontraptions and Ravel Virtual Studios. Her orchestral work Bya was premiered by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in July 2023, and then received its Australian premiere by the Sydney Contemporary Orchestra in Australia in October 2023. The same work will be featured again by the New England Philharmonic in June 2024.
            Xu studied musicology at the high school affiliated with the Central Conservatory of Music in China. She received a bachelor’s degree in composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music studying with Mason Bates. Xu earned her master’s degree in composition at the Juilliard School, studying under Robert Beaser. She is a current DMA student at the New England Conservatory of Music with studio teacher Kati Agócs.

    • Ziang Yin '25 MM, piano

  4. Lera Auerbach | Prayer for alto saxophone (1996, 2009)

  5. Francine Trester | All Points (2023)

    World Premiere, commissioned by Kenneth Radnofsky


    Program note and bio

    My poetry and music to All Points describes four directions in which I've traveled, narratives defined by the past, present, future, and the in-between. Each movement takes its title and content from the four cardinal directions on the compass rose: i. NORTH is in three parts: a childhood trip to Canada (memories of dessert, mini golf, my grandmother's hand-crocheted sweater); two years living in England (that "green and pleasant land" of Blake's imagining, London's soot, an earlier nightfall); what North is to me in the present-day. ii. SOUTH references my time in Sherman, TX on the Oklahoma border (I taught at Austin College for 3 years). Some indelible experiences from that time - some ambivalence about how they're remembered. iii. EAST is Boston and New York - traveling between them, homes past and present. (The "Sound" at the poem's conclusion, references the Long Island Sound and the view across it). iv. WEST starts with a childhood summer spent in Pasadena, CA (my Dad was working at Jet Propulsion Laboratories on sabbatical). A weird, solitary summer (with a lot of time to practice violin - too much time maybe...) The poem then segues to a broader definition of "West," what it promises.
    Praised as “compelling” and “thought-provoking” by the Boston Musical Intelligencer, Francine Trester’s A Walk In Her Shoes was premiered by Boston Landmarks Orchestra at the Hatch Memorial Shell. Most recently, Trester’s In Her Element was premiered at Sanders Theater by the Kendall Square Orchestra. Trester’s libretto and score to the chamber opera Florence Comes Home, about composer Florence Price, was commissioned by Shelter Music Boston and described by the Intelligencer as “meaningful…wide and comprehensive.” Trester has had the honor of being commissioned by Kenneth Radnofsky to write Street Views for the Amram Ensemble. World-Wide Concurrent Premieres commissioned Trester’s Reminiscence: 3 Meditations on Friendship, which was also premiered by Kenneth Radnofsky.
        Trester is a Professor of Composition at Berklee College of Music and a 2023 Berklee Faculty Fellowship recipient. Trester’s music is recorded on Affetto/Naxos, Albany, Crystal and Stone Records labels and is available through the American Composers Alliance. www.francinetrester.com

    • Francine Trester, violin
    • Klaudia Szlachta, violin
    • Scott Woolweaver, viola
    • Leo Eguchi, cello
    • Thomas Weaver, piano
  6. About the artists

    Described as “copiously skilled and confident” by the New York Times, Leo Eguchi has performed extensively across North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. An active soloist and chamber musician who believes in the power of music for social change, he is the co-founder and co-artistic director of two institutions which are helping to reshape the classical concert model: Sheffield Chamber Players, which builds community by bringing world-class chamber music out of the concert hall and into intimate spaces, and the Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival which pairs music and wine to provide new inroads into the artistic experience. Additionally, Leo has recently launched a nationally acclaimed immigration-themed solo cello project titled Unaccompanied, which brings together immigrant and first-generation American composers to use music to explore shared experiences of American identity and displacement in society.   Leo is on the music faculty of Boston College, and is the Assistant Conductor of the MIT Symphony Orchestra. He holds degrees in physics and music from the University of Michigan and Boston University.  
    Klaudia Szlachta is an award-winning violinist from Poland, who attended Boston Conservatory on a scholarship where she earned her Bachelor of Music degree, graduating summa cum laude. Her Master of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees were achieved at Boston University, where she won both the Bach Prize and the Concerto Competition. Upon graduation, Ms. Szlachta was invited by the Institute and Festival of Contemporary Performance in New York City to perform Luciano Berio's Sequenza and Elliott Carter's Triple Duo. She has also had the privilege of collaborating on stage with Menahem Pressler, Joseph Silverstein and Lucia Lin. Recently, she showcased a new composition by Ketty Nez at the Festival of New Music in Florida. Locally, she performs regularly with the Cantata Singers, Bach, Beethoven and Brahms Society, the Odyssey Opera, Alea lll and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the latter of which recently invited her to perform as concertmaster when they played at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.  Currently, Ms. Szlachta is on the faculty of Boston University's School of Music, New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School, the Intensive Community Program, Rivers School Conservatory and BUTI’s summer program at Tanglewood, where she is the Director of the Violin Workshop.
    Thomas Weaver, currently on faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music and Boston University Tanglewood Institute, is an American composer and pianist whose active solo and chamber career has included performances in concert halls throughout New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Nashville, Dallas, and Berlin, in addition to festival appearances at Tanglewood and Red Rocks Music Festival.  Weaver has performed with a number of eminent musicians including Jess Gillam, Elmira Darvarova, Kenneth Radnofsky, Jennifer Frautschi, Gene Pokorny, and members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and others.  Weaver is a currently a member of the Amram Ensemble, Trio Ardente, and New England Chamber Players.  Also an awardwinning composer, Weaver’s music has been performed throughout the United States, Germany, Austria, Japan, and Australia. For more information please visit www.thomaseweaver.com.
    Scott Woolweaver is principal violist of the Ann Arbor (MI) Symphony Orchestra and is a member of the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston.  Mr. Woolweaver is Artist Affiliate in Viola and Chamber Music at Tufts University in Medford Massachusetts and is a faculty member of the All Newton Music School in West Newton, where he is Director of the Con Brio chamber music series.  He has held teaching positions at Williams College, Eastern Michigan University School of Music and Dance and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He is also Director of the Adult Chamber Music Institute at Kneisel Hall in Blue Hill, Maine.  
    Ziang Yin ’25 MM, graduated from The Juilliard School in 2019 and NEC in 2023, and is a current NEC student majoring in classical piano performance with Bruce Brubaker. Ziang has received highly professional piano education from a young age, including instruction from pianists such as Chu-Fang Huang, Gary Graffman, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Robert McDonald, Victor Rosenbaum, and Bruce Brubaker. Ziang has won several prestigious competitions, including both the Canadian Music International Festival and the Tennessee International Music Festival with the full scholarship. He has performed the Rachmaninov Second Piano Concerto with the Canadian Orchestra and received unanimous acclaim from the public. Following that, Ziang has given recitals in many countries including one at Lincoln Center after winning the Metropolitan International Piano Competition as the youngest winner. Ziang not only performs as a soloist but also collaborates with many other musicians. He is willing to explore the connections and effects between different instruments, as well as to exchange ideas with various musicians.