The Hotchkiss Concert Series is pleased to welcome back The Wallingford Symphony Orchestra in concert Friday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Katherine M. Elfers Hall, Esther Eastman Music Center. The Orchestra, led by Maestro Philip Ventre, will perform Peter and the Wolf by composer Sergei Prokofiev, accompanied by a captivating narration of the story of Peter and his forest friends by Hotchkiss poet-in-residence, Susan Kinsolving, and her husband, actor, William Kinsolving. The New England Jazz Ensemble will also play a contemporary jazz interpretation of the music. To close this fun, child-oriented concert, the orchestra will be joined by Hotchkiss pianists Fabio and Gisele Witkowski (and a few animals on the patio, courtesy of Safari Rides of Connecticut) for a thrilling performance of Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals. All are welcome to attend, especially families, and admission is free.
Philip Thomas Ventre
Philip T. Ventre is the founder and Music Director of the Wallingford Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of the Paul Mellon Arts Center. The Wallingford Symphony is renowned in Connecticut for its creative programming. Robert Sherman, music critic for the New York Times, wrote, “It is well worth the drive to Wallingford, to hear the Wallingford Symphony Orchestra!” The WSO has performed in concert with celebrated artists including Jeffrey Kahane, Barbara Nissman, Stephanie Chase, Frederick Moyer, Joyce Guyer, Miriam Kramer, Livia Sohn, Ji Yong, the Eroica Trio, opera singers Maria Spacagna & Jerry Hadley, with ABT prima ballerina Julie Kent, with classical guitarist Benjamin Verdery, cimbalom virtuoso Kalman Balogh and jazz legend Dave Brubeck.
Maestro Ventre is the Music Director of Symphony Under the Stars, presenting concerts in Connecticut and for thirty-three years is the Music Director of the Johanna Fishbein Memorial Children’s Concerts, presenting concerts for children in Connecticut. Maestro Ventre has conducted the Connecticut Opera, Connecticut Ballet and New Haven Ballet, Connecticut orchestras and Connecticut university orchestras. Guest conducting engagements have included the Vivaldi Concertante Orchestra of London, the Kammerorchester Arpeggione of Zurich, the Longwood Symphony Orchestra (MA) in historic Jordan Hall, the Fort Collins Symphony (CO), the Nashua Symphony Orchestra (NH) and the Northern Ballet (NH). Since 1998, Maestro Ventre has been a frequent guest conductor in the People's Republic of China conducting the Xiamen Philharmonic, the Tianjin Symphony, Guangxi Province Orchestra, the Xi’an Symphony and the Shaanxi Philharmonic Orchestra. Maestro Ventre is also a frequent guest conductor at MENC /CMEA Festivals, the New England Music Festival, the New England Music Camp and has appeared on Connecticut Public Television and on NBC Channel 4 with the acclaimed Choate Rosemary Hall Orchestra.
Maestro Ventre is also the Music Director of the Choate Rosemary Hall Orchestra and in 2010, he was honored by the U.S. Department of Education as a United States Teacher of Recognition. In 2013 Maestro Ventre was honored with a nomination for a GRAMMY in the Schools Award. As Music Director of the Greater New Haven Youth Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra and Symphonic Wind Ensemble from 1993-2005, Maestro Ventre conducted performances in Carnegie Hall, at Lincoln Center, in Boston, Washington D.C. and in Toronto, Canada.
Maestro Ventre studied conducting with Maestro Gustav Meier and with Maestro Otto-Werner Mueller at Yale and with Maestro Charles Bruck at the Pierre Monteux School, serving as Maestro Bruck's assistant for three years. Maestro Ventre received a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music Degree from the New England Conservatory. While at N.E.C., Maestro Ventre performed with the Boston Pops, with numerous orchestras and ensembles in the greater Boston area, founded the Artists Brass Quintet and lectured at Simmons College and Emmanuel College.
For more information about the Wallingford Symphony Orchestra, please visit their website: www.wallingfordsymphony.org.
Witkowski Piano Duo, Fabio Witkowski and Gisele Nacif Witkowski
Having come from similar musical backgrounds in their native country, Brazilian pianists Fabio and Gisele Witkowski have been sharing many stages around the world as the Witkowski Piano Duo. Highly accomplished pianists and dedicated educators, the Witkowskis are much sought after for their vibrant and dynamic four-hands and two piano performances. They have delighted audiences performing in prestigious settings such as the Gardens of Villa Rufolo in Ravello, Italy, at the Kennedy Center, in Washington, D.C., at Carnegie Hall, in New York, as well as several recitals in the US, South America, South Korea, Hong Kong, China, and Europe. The New York Concert Review has described their playing as “showing marvelous rubato and tremendously clean playing, with a lovely sense of tone”.
Individually, they have performed with the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Santo André Symphony, São Bernardo Philharmonic Orchestra, Hartt Symphony Orchestra, Piracicaba Symphony Orchestra, Rio Claro Philharmonic Orchestra, L’Estro Armonico Orchestra, and the Paulista Symphonic Orchestra. As chamber players their performances include appearances with the Emerson String Quartet, The Guarneri Quartet, the Fine Arts Quartet, The Amerigo Trio, the São Paulo String Quartet, and the Adaskin Trio, among others. Mrs. Witkowski’s Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall solo recital debut was hailed as “the most genuinely fascinating recital debut in many a moon,” (New York Concert Review). Mr. Witkowski’s playing has been described as having “many passages of bravura, sensitivity, and pearly agility” (The Hartford Courant).
Concomitantly to their performing careers, they enjoy a busy academic life, both teaching at the Hotchkiss School, where Mr. Witkowski is the Head of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and Director of the music program. Mr. Witkowski holds a cum laude BM and MM from the Hartt School of Music, where he studied under the guidance of Luiz de Moura Castro. Mrs. Witkowski received a full scholarship from the Brazilian Government to study at the Manhattan School of Music with Ms. Nina Svetlanova, where she received her Masters degree. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the Hartt School of Music where she studied under the tutelage of Luiz de Moura Castro. Mr. and Mrs. Witkowski have appeared as guest artists and professors in numerous music festivals, including the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy, the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival and Hotchkiss Summer Portals in the US, and the São João del Rey, Belém, Londrina, and Ourinhos Music Festivals in Brazil.
One of the duo’s latest projects has been to perform Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with the Bowen McCauley dance company, celebrating the 100-year anniversary of this masterpiece. About this collaboration, The Washington Post wrote, “Fabio and Gisele Witkowski played the four-hand piano arrangement as if they possessed the very paws of Fate.” For more information about the duo, please visit their website: www.witkowskipianoduo.com.
Founded in 1891, The Hotchkiss School is a coeducational boarding school, located at 11 Interlaken Road in Lakeville, Connecticut. Katherine M. Elfers Hall is situated in the lower level of the main building. For more information on this and other arts events at The Hotchkiss School call 860-435-4423.