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Concert: Music of Ignacio Cervantes and Ernesto Lecuona

Americas Society

February 21, 2014


Image: Wikimedia Commons

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A limited number of tickets will be available at the door starting at 6:15pm on Friday, February 21.

Young Chinese pianist Wenqiao Jiang, a student of legendary Cuban piano pedagogue Salomón Mikowsky, offers a rare performance of Danzas cubanas, a collection of 40 pieces written by Ignacio Cervantes (1847-1905). Cervantes, one of the most important Cuban composers and a virtuoso pianist, started writing Danzas cubanas at a young age in the late 1850s. In them, he explores popular rhythms and forms and evokes the rich musical life of the island in the years before independence. The program also includes the Afrocuban dances by Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963). Jiang will be joined by Cuban pianist Willanny Darias, another of Mikowsky's students, in several of the dances, written for piano four hands. This is the first of three Music of the Americas concerts featuring young musicians which will take place in February and March 2014.


Danzas cubanas by Ignacio Cervantes (Havana, 31 July 1847 – Havana, 29 April 1905)

Un recuerdo
Los tres golpes
No me toques
La celosa
El velorio
La encantadora
¡No bailes más!
La glorieta
Siempre sí
Se fué y no vuelve más
Vuelta al hogar

Danzas afrocubanas by Ernesto Lecuona (Havana, 1895 - Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 1963)

La conga de media noche
¡Y la negra bailaba!

From Danzas cubanas
Duchas frías
Tiene que ser
Ilusiones perdidas
No llores más
Gran señora
¿Por qué, eh?
¡Te quiero tanto!
¡Lejos de tí!
La carcajada

Adiós a Cuba

Wenqiao Jiang, piano

Danzas cubanas para cuatro manos

La camagüeyana
Los delirios de Rosita
Los muñecos

Willanny Darias Martínez and Wenqiao Jiang, piano

From Danzas afrocubanas 

Danza de los ñáñigos
Danza lucumí
La comparsa

Wenqiao Jiang, piano

Wenqiao Jiang was born in Beijing in 1997, the daughter of two prominent musicians. At age 3, she started cello lessons with her father and at age four she began her piano studies with Yuhui Hong. At age six, she had her first piano recital at the Beijing Musical Hall and continued her studies with Ying Wu at the Middle School attached to the Central Conservatory in her native city. During her studies in China, Wenqiao won various national competitions, such as the Steinway & Sons National Competition, the Xinghai National Piano Competition, the Hop Cup Piano Competition, and the Helen National Competition for Volin and Piano. She also performed frequently in Beijing, Hong Kong, Hainan, Shanghai, and Japan. Since 2010 she has been a full scholarship student of Salomón Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) Precollege Division in New York while attending the Rockland Country Day School. At MSM she was the winner of the Concerto Competition resulting in a performance as soloist with the Precollege Symphony Orchestra. She has been recipient of the Constance Keene and the Rosetta Goodkind Memorial Awards and the Sydney Frank Foundation Scholarship. In the summer of 2011, she performed at the Torrelodones Music Festival in Spain and received a full scholarship for attendance in 2012. In summer 2013, Wenqiao performed two very successful recitals in Havana, and received a standing ovation after her performance as soloist with the Dalian International Orchestra in Beijing. She has been invited by Mikowsky to perform the Schumann Concerto with the Orquesta Nacional de Cuba on June 15, 2014, as part of the II Encuentro de Jovenes Pianistas in Havana.

Willanny Darias was born in Havana in 1993 and started her musical studies at age four with Rosalía Capote in piano and Lucía Varona in theory. Her public debut was in 2000 at the Amadeo Roldán Theater and that year she also enrolled in the Conservatorio Manuel Saumell where she studied piano with Hortensia Upmann. After receiving five prizes in regional and national competitions, Willanny won first prize at the first Concurso Internacional de Piano de Maracaibo in Venezuela. A year later she had her concerto debut performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A, K414 with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Holguín under Ivette Gómez Capote. In 2007 she studied in Andorra with Stanislav Pochekin, a Russian pianist with a long pedagogical trajectory in Cuba. She studied piano with Teresita Junco and harmony and analysis with Iliana García at the Escuela Nacional de Arte, and was a soloist with Cuba’s Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional conducted by Eduardo Sánchez Zuber in Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto. She was invited by the conductor to tour Mexico with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Michoacán. In 2008 she won first prize in the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition in New York. In March 2010, while studying with Aldo López-Gavilán, she was the youngest pianist to receive prizes at the Concurso UNEAC in Cuba and shortly after received an Elva Van Gelder Memorial Scholarship to continue her studies with Salomón Mikowsky at MSM in New York. In the three years she has been enrolled at MSM she has been in the Dean’s list and given concerts at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, the Juilliard School, and MSM. She has been invited by Mikowsky to perform César Franck’s Symphonic Variations with the Orquesta Nacional de Cuba on June 22, 2014, as part of the II Encuentro de Jovenes Pianistas in Havana.

Salomón Mikowsky was born in Cuba of Russian-Polish parents. His early training was with César Pérez Sentenat, who studied in Paris with Joaquín Nín, student of Moszkowski, a Liszt pupil. He was granted scholarships by the Cuban government and the Juilliard School to study in New York with Sascha Gorodnitzki, earning a doctorate from Columbia University. Cited as “one of the world’s most sought-after artist teachers” (Clavier) Salomón Mikowsky has been honored by the Institute of International Education, and was awarded the Presidential Medal by the Manhattan School of Music. He has been a member of the Manhattan School of Music College faculty since 1974 and of the Precollege faculty since 1969. He serves on the juries of some of the most important international competitions and has given master classes around the world. During the summer, he directs International Piano Festivals in Europe and Cuba.

Salomón Mikowsky’s students have won over 150 international piano competitions, including the Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky, and Sviatoslav Richter, and have appeared with some of the world’s finest orchestras, including the Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras; the Berlin and New York philharmonics; and the Staatskapelle Dresden,under conductors Dudamel, Dutoit, Eschenbach, Fischer, Frübeck de Burgos, and Masur, among others.