Violinist Liba Shacht was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, where she began her musical studies at age five. Shortly thereafter, her family emigrated to Israel. The recipient of an Artist Diploma with distinction from Tel Aviv University, Ms. Shacht appeared as soloist with the Israeli Philharmonic, the Jerusalem Broadcasting Symphony, the Israeli Sinfonietta, and in chamber orchestras and recitals throughout Israel. She represented Israel at the Jeunesses Musicales World Congress in Korea, Japan, and England, where she performed chamber music at the Royal Albert Hall. Upon the recommendation of Isaac Stern, Ms. Shacht was awarded a special Fellowship by the America-Israel Cultural Foundation to study with Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard School in New York. She earned a master’s degree and a doctorate from Juilliard
Her New York recital debut at Town Hall was marked by a glowing review from The New York Times : “Miss Shacht plays with Russian intensity, yet her performances are tempered with abundant humor. She delights in her nimble technique, and virtuosic displays present few obstacles. Prokofiev Sonata in D was played with explosive energy, and Schumann’s Sonata in a minor was enriched with a dark, songful melancholy.”
Ms. Shacht is the winner of several competitions, among them the Artist International Distinguished Artists Award, which led to her first appearance at Carnegie Recital Hall in New York. As the winner of the Affiliated Artists national auditions, she has toured the United States extensively, performing with critical acclaim in recitals, playing with orchestras, and conducting master classes. She later performed as soloist in the rarely-played Glazunov Violin Concerto with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Shacht is an avid performer of chamber music. She has participated in the Aspen Music Festival and the Marlboro Music Festival, where she performed with Rudolf Serkin and members of the Guarneri Quartet, as well as the chamber music series at the 92nd Street “Y” in New York. She is a member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, as well as principal second violin of the Grant Park Symphony. Ms. Shacht frequently performs with her husband, cellist John Sharp.
John Sharp was appointed principal cello of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the 1986–87 season by Sir Georg Solti. He was, at 27, among the youngest players ever in a CSO principal chair. Prior to his Chicago appointment, Sharp was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and principal cello of the Cincinnati Symphony (1983–1986) and the New York String Orchestra under Alexander Schneider. John Sharp has been a featured soloist for the CSO’s recording of Strauss’s Don Quixote, in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Itzhak Perlman and Daniel Barenboim, and in Britten’s Symphony for Cello and Orchestra under Mstislav Rostropovich. He has performed in chamber music concerts across the nation, including appearances at the Marlboro Music Festival and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
A native of Waco, Texas, John Sharp began to play cello in school at the age of 10 and took his first private lessons at thirteen with Lev Aronson. Following a year at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, he enrolled at the Juilliard School, where he earned a master’s degree. While there, he studied with Lynn Harrell and appeared as soloist twice with Juilliard orchestras, including the New York premiere of Rorem’s Remembering Tommy. In 1986, he won third prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. A professor of cello at Roosevelt University, John Sharp also coaches the cello section of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He plays a rare cello made by Joseph Guarnerius in 1694.
Esther Wang, pianist, is an active soloist and collaborator throughout the United States and has appeared on numerous concert series, including the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts in Chicago and the A. Mozart Fest Series in Austin, TX. The San Jose Mercury News has called Wang “a forceful, take-charge kind of artist with personality…spirited and vital,” and the Double Reed journal called her a “magnificent accompanist” after the 1999 International Double Reed Conference.
She has won prizes in the Kingsville and Shreveport Young Artists Competitions and has appeared as concerto soloist with numerous orchestras, including the Green Lake Festival Orchestra under Sir David Willcocks. As a chamber musician, Wang has collaborated with members of the New York Philharmonic, the LaSalle String Quartet, the Maia Quartet, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra,The Cleveland Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra.
Wang received the Bachelor of Music at Baylor University, where she studied with Roger Keyes. She continued her studies with Frank Weinstock at the University of Cincinnati, earning the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. She also studied privately with renowned pianist Lilian Kallir and attended the Tanglewood, Kneisel Hall, and Taos Chamber Music summer festivals.
Wang is an enthusiastic teacher and adjudicator. She has served on faculties at St. Olaf College, The University of Texas at Austin, University of WI-Oshkosh, University of WI-Platteville, Baylor University, Northeast MO State University, Northern Kentucky University, Lutheran Summer Music, the New England Music Camp, and Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, CT. She performs and lectures on J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier as a member of The Bach Four and has recorded solo and chamber works by Jan Radzynski on the Centaur label. In the summers, she teaches at the Interlochen Arts Camp and the Adamant Music School (VT).
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About the Host
Composer Abbie Betinis writes music called “inventive, richly melodic” (The New York Times), “superb, whirling, soaring” (Tacoma News Tribune), and “the highlight” of the program (Boston Globe). With over 50 commissioned works for ensembles such as Cantus, the New England Philharmonic, and The Rose Ensemble, Abbie has been awarded a McKnight Composer Fellowship, grants from the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, and Jerome Foundation, and was recently listed in NPR Music’s Top 100 Composers Under 40. A resident of Saint Paul, she is adjunct professor of composition at Concordia University, and was composer-in-residence with the Schubert Club from 2005-2017.