Music in Familiar Spaces: Steuart and Michelle Pincombe

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Music in Familiar Spaces tour stops in Cleveland's Nighttown

On Thursday March 24th at 7:00pm, internationally-recognized classical musicians Shuann Chai (piano) and Steuart Pincombe (cello) will bring the music of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms to a Cleveland institution, jazz venue and restaurant Nighttown. The program is part of the yearlong tour called Music in Familiar Spaces, a project that is bringing the classical music experience at its highest level to places that are familiar and comfortable, and presenting the music in a way that is engaging and accessible.

Chai and Pincombe will present a program called “The Art of the Fugue”, exploring the brilliant fugal writing of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. The pair are both graduates of Oberlin Conservatory but did not overlap in their studies. They met only after Pincombe moved to the Netherlands, where Chai had been living for several years, and soon became collaborators, playing together in leading festivals and halls in Europe and the U.S. Chai now lives in The Hague with her husband Shunske Sato and daughter, and Pincombe recently moved back to the U.S. to start Music in Familiar Spaces with his wife Michelle.

The concert at Nighttown will start at 7:00pm and the audience will be invited to order drinks and food from the restaurant throughout the performance. One of the aims of the Music in Familiar Spaces tour is to make classical music accessible to a wide and varied audience. This is accomplished not only by performing in familiar, comfortable and untraditional spaces, but by asking audience members to “name-their-own-ticket-price”, paying only what they can afford and what they believe the concert is worth. Tickets will be available at the door, and reservations may be made through Nighttown.

Concert details: Thursday, March 24th, 7:00pm. Night Town (12387 Cedar Road, Cleveland). Name-your-own-ticket-price, at the door. For more information: www.musicinfamiliarspaces.com. For reservations: 216-795-0550

About the musicians:

Pianist Shuann Chai is an active and engaging performer, critically acclaimed for interpretations on both modern and historical instruments. Her projects reflect a wide range of interests: performing the 32 Beethoven sonatas on historical pianos (seasons 2013-15), collaborations with modern dancers featuring the music of John Cage (2013) and Sergei Prokofiev (2015), and chamber music programs in La Folle Journée in Tokyo (Japan) and the festival Bach en Combrailles (France).  Resident in the Netherlands, she has performed throughout Europe from Finland to Spain and the Ukraine to the UK, and is also an active performer in Asia and as well as her native USA. Shuann has also been featured in live webcast on Avro Klassiek (NL) and live radio broadcasts on Radio4 (NL), WGBH Boston (with cellist Pieter Wispelwey), the Dennis Lewin Radio Show on WCLV Cleveland, CKUA Edmonton (Canada), Harmonia Early Music Radio, Hong Kong Radio 4, and Radio-Canada.

Shuann completed degrees in both Piano Performance and Biology at Oberlin College and earned Master’s degrees from the New England Conservatory in Boston and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague (NL). Her teachers have included Jack Radunsky, Norma Fisher, David Breitman, and Claus-Christian Schuster of the Altenberg Trio. In 2010 she received a full scholarship at the Banff Centre (Canada), where she was one of eight pianists from around the world selected to take part in an exclusive Beethoven Seminar and Master Class with Anton Kuerti. She was invited back to the Centre as an Artist-in-Residence in 2012 and 2013.

Alongside her concert appearances, Ms. Chai has been increasingly in demand as a teacher. She has conducted master classes and lecture-demonstrations at the Gulangyu Piano Academy in Xiamen (China), the Grieg Conservatory in Bergen (Norway), the Central Conservatory of Beijing (China), National University of Taipei (Taiwan), the University of Edinburgh (UK), the University of California at Davis (USA), and Duke University (USA). She is a Visiting Lecturer in early keyboards and pianos at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and also serves as the Artistic Director of the Pianoforte Festival of Zaandijk (NL), now in its sixth year. Her first solo CD, featuring Beethoven Sonatas on the fortepiano, was released in 2012 to critical acclaim.

Among other things, Shuann Chai is grateful for having two inspiring musical companions: a concert grand Steinway signed by jazz greats Herbie Hancock and Ahmad Jamal; and an original 1820 Rosenberger fortepiano, generously provided on permanent loan by the National Musical Instruments Foundation of the Netherlands (NMF). She is also the beneficiary of generous support from organizations such as the Fonds voor Podium Kunst (FPK) and Ars Donandi.

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Quickly establishing himself as one of the leading early/new music performers of his generation, Steuart Pincombe can regularly be heard in concert as a soloist and chamber musician in a variety of venues and festivals across North America and Europe. Steuart enjoys an active career designing creative programs and being involved in innovative collaborations with leading ensembles and performers. Highlights of Steuart's 2014-2015 concert season include being a featured soloist with Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop (DE), radio and festival appearances with Ensemble Ausonia (BE), performing with Holland Baroque Society (NL) for King Willem Alexander of The Netherlands, appearing as soloist at the Amsterdam Cello Bienalle, and launching the first season of Oerknal! (a contemporary music collective which Steuart co-founded). His concert 'Bach&Beer' was selected by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as one of the 'Top 10 Classical Events of 2014' (USA) and a concert in which he appeared as soloist with Rene Schiffer and Apollo's Fire was numbered in London's '5 Best Classical Music Moments of 2014' according to The Telegraph (UK).

Steuart is a member of the cello and chamber music faculty at the Credo Chamber Music Festival in Ohio, co-director of the baroque program of the Crescendo Institute in Hungary, and has held residencies at various institutions and conservatories in the US. Steuart received a BM in modern cello and a MM in viola da gamba and baroque cello from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

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