BIOS: Paula Robison & Frederic Hand

Paula Robison photo: Matt Dine

Paula Robison

Paula Robison burst onto the international music scene in 1966 when she won First Prize at the Geneva Competition, the first American ever to receive this honor. She joined the roster of the newly-formed Young Concert Artists and embarked on a groundbreaking, world-traveling career as a flute soloist, a career which continues to be vibrant to this day. She has commissioned works for flute and orchestra by Leon Kirchner, Toru Takemitsu, Oliver Knussen, Robert Beaser, and Kenneth Frazelle, premiered music written for her by Lowell Liebermann and Michael Tilson Thomas, performed Leonard Bernstein’s “Hålil” in Vienna and Carl Nielsen’s Concerto in Copenhagen, and presented a rich spectrum of music from Mozart Concerti to Brazilian Samba in her many appearances at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Paula Robison was a founding Artist Member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, performing with them for twenty seasons. During the same time she was co-director with Scott Nickrenz of the famed Noontime Concerts at the Spoleto Festivals, presenting many great artists early in their careers. She was awarded the Adelaide Ristori Prize and Premio Pegaso for her contributions to Italian cultural life.

Paula Robison has recorded for Vanguard Classics, Sony Classical, CBS Masterworks, Mode (the complete Berio Sequenzas, awarded the Premio del Disco Amadeus 2008, and Lei Liang’s “In Praise of Shadows”), New World Records, King Records, Musical Heritage Society, and Bridge Recordings (her Marlboro Festival performance of Schubert’s Introduction and Variations with Rudolf Serkin, named American Record Guide’s Best Recording of the Year). Her books on the art of flute playing are published by Universal Edition, Schott, European-American Music, G. Schirmer, and Theodore Presser. In 2006 she founded Pergola Recordings, an independent label. Recently released, a critically acclaimed album of live performances including the World Premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s Sonata with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the Prokofiev Sonata with pianist Yefim Bronfman.

One of Paula Robison’s favorite continuing projects is “With Art”: collaborations with visual artists in unusual spaces. In the fall of 2005, Ms. Robison–as Artist-in-Residence at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum–initiated “Variations on a Theme”, a collaborative project with conceptual artist Sol LeWitt, curator Pieranna Cavalchini, and the music of Mozart. Other “With Art” projects have included Luciano Berio’s “Sequenza I” with Italian Art from the 1950s at PS 1 in New York, “Places of the Spirit” with painter Jim Schantz, Toru Takemitsu’s “Itinerant” at the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Impressionist music in the Renoir Gallery of the Clark Museum, Vivaldi in the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and a battle with Tim Hawkinson’s “UberOrgan” at MASS MoCA.

Although Ms Robison was thrown out of her high school drama club for breaking character and clowning in the middle of a gothic tragedy, through the years her love of theater never left her, especially Commedia dell’Arte and specifically Arnold Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire”. In 2007 she made a new English performance version of the “Pierrot” texts, using both the original Albert Giraud poems and Otto Erich Hartleben’s translations, and took the speaking part for two performances at the Barge in New York City. On December 31st 2009, in celebration of the full moon, the New Year, and a lunar project by Gardner Museum Artist-in-Residence Taro Shinoda, she was again the “Sprecherin” in a special midnight performance of Schoenberg’s expressionist masterpiece. Sprechstimme performances coming up in 2012 include collaborations with the New World Symphony, Argento New Music, and counter)induction.

Paula Robison has taught at the Juilliard School and given classes all over the world. She now occupies the Donna Hieken Flute Chair at New England Conservatory and is happy to be defining her own distinctive style of teaching as she passes on the great legacies of her teachers, flutists Marcel Moyse and Julius Baker.

Frederic Hand

Frederic Hand is one of the most versatile guitarists performing before the public today. His programs feature his own works, composed in the eclectic style for which he has become well known. Of his compositions for guitar, Alexandre Lagoya wrote, “His knowledge of the instrument enables him to achieve effects which are absolutely remarkable. Mr. Hand possesses a magnificent talent which touches me profoundly.” Noted for his unique performances of early music, Frederic Hand is the creator and director of Jazzantiqua, a group The New York Times described as “scintillating and brilliant”. Of his solo performance they wrote, “He played unerringly, with all the verve and spirit that one could ask.” Mr. Hand arranged and performed the theme from the Academy Award winning film, Kramer vs. Kramer, which led to a best selling recording on CBS, Baroque and on the Street. Most recently, his composition Prayer was nominated for a Grammy award. Other recordings include Jazzantiqua and Heart’s Song on Music Masters, and Solos, an album of original solo guitar music released by Willow Music.

He has performed as guest artist with the Mostly Mozart Festival, Spoleto Festival, Marlboro Music Festival, New York Philharmonic, Waverly Consort, Orchestra of St. Luke’s among others and was chosen to perform in the Metropolitan Opera’s inaugural chamber music series at Carnegie Hall in 1999. In 1986 he was appointed guitarist and lutenist with the Metropolitan Opera, and has performed onstage with Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti, conducted by James Levine.  In 2008 he received the Samuel Sanders Award from the Classical Recording Foundation for his recording with Paula Robison, “Places of the Spirit”.

Frederic Hand’s playing and improvisations have been heard on the scores of numerous films, including those starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Robert DeNiro in This Boy’s Life, Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep in Kramer vs Kramer and Sean Connery in The Next Man. His on camera televised performances include appearances with Meg Ryan, Marisa Tomei and Anne Heche. He performed on the Broadway stage with Maximillian Schell in John Osborne’s A Patriot for Me.

Hand has also composed scores for numerous television shows, among them Sesame Street, As the World Turns and The Guiding Light, for which he was awarded an Emmy. G. Schirmer, Theodore Presser, Cherry Lane and Mel Bay publish worldwide over a dozen volumes of his original compositions and arrangements. In addition to the composer, they have been recorded by John Williams, William Kanengiser, Benjamin Verdery, Eduardo Isaac and Stephen Robinson.

Frederic Hand’s tours throughout North America and Europe have been met with the highest critical acclaim and his numerous master classes and residencies include New England Conservatory of Music, Yale University, Dartmouth College, Cleveland Institute of Music, Emory University, and the Universities of California at Santa Barbara, Colorado State, Miami  and North Carolina. A graduate of the Mannes College of Music, he was a Fulbright Scholar to England and a student of Julian Bream. He is chairman of the classical guitar department at the State University of New York at Purchase and also currently serves on the faculties of the Mannes College of Music and Bennington College.

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