Robert Aitken, flute
Erica Goodman, harp
Jacques Israelievitch, violin
Teng Li, viola
Winona Zelenka, cello
After his studies in flute with Nicolas Fiore in Toronto (1955–59), Robert Aitken was appointed principal flute of the Vancouver Symphony. He later served as second flute player for the CBC Radio Orchestra (1960–64) and co-principal with the Toronto Symphony (1965–70). Aitken studied with Marcel Moyse intermittently over a period of nine years in Vermont and Europe, a profound influence on his development as a musician. He also worked with Jean-Pierre Rampal (Paris, Nice), Severino Gazzeloni (Rome), André Jaunet (Zurich), and Hubert Barwähser (Amsterdam). His include the Concours international de flûte de Paris (1971) as well as the Concours international de flûte pour la musique contemporaine in Royan, France (1972). He has given master-classes in a number of countries, including Cuba, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and the United States. Aitken has more than forty recordings to his credit and John Cage, George Crumb, Elliott Carter, Toru Takemitsu, Gilles Tremblay and Bruce Mather have dedicated works to him. Among his many awards as both a composer and flautist are the Canada Music Citation, the Canadian Music Council Medal, the Jean A Chalmers National Music Award, the Order of Canada, and the William Harold Moon Award. He holds the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the government of France and was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Flute Association (USA) in 2003. In 2004 he retired as Professor of Flute at the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, a post he had held for sixteen years. In 1971 he founded New Music Concerts with Norma Beecrott and continues to serve as NMC’s Artistic Director.
Born in Toronto, Erica Goodman received her training as a harpist at the Royal Conservatory of Music there, the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan, and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Already in her teens, she played under the baton of Igor Stravinsky when he recorded in Toronto, and was a concerto soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra. She also was a member of the National Arts Centre Orchestra under Mario Bernardi and was featured as soloist at the orchestra’s New York début. She is currently a member of Toronto’s Esprit Orchestra which specialises in contemporary music. In chamber music she has a long association with colleagues such as the flautist Robert Aitken, oboist Lawrence Cherney and Trio Lyra, and with the Swedish horn-player Sören Hermansson has performed old and newly commissioned works for French horn and harp. She is a charter member of Toronto’s New Music Concerts Ensemble, which has recorded for Naxos the music of Toru Takemitsu (8.555859) and George Crumb (8.559205). In addition to performing extensively abroad, she has many recordings to her credit. In 1995, she won a Juno for her solo BIS CD Erica Goodman Plays Canadian Harp Music. In 1980 she won the Grand Prix du Disque for her BIS recording Flute and Harp with Robert Aitken. NOW magazine selected her as Best Canadian Classical Musician in its 1996 “Best of Toronto” readers’ poll.
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After making his début on French National Radio at the age of eleven, Jacques Israelievitch went on to graduate from the Paris Conservatoire at sixteen and was subsequently prize-winner at the International Paganini Competition. His teachers include Henryk Szeryng, Janos Starker, William Primrose, and Josef Gingold. As a soloist he has collaborated with Solti, Giulini, Slatkin, Davis, and Frühbeck de Burgos, appearing with many of the world’s major orchestras. As a distinguished chamber musician, he has performed with Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman and Yo-Yo Ma, and is violinist for the twice Naumburg Award recipient New Arts Trio. He served as Concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for a record-setting twenty years, and was formerly Assistant Concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for six years and Concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra for ten years. He is currently chair of strings at the Chautauqua Institution and a full-time faculty member at York University in Toronto. In growing demand as a conductor, he has been Music Director of the Koffler Chamber Orchestra since 2005. His discography features more than a hundred albums. In 2004 the French government named him Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters. He is also the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award for his distinguished contribution to the performing arts in Canada.
Teng Li was appointed Principal Viola of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2004 at the astonishing age of 21. Her engagements have included Bartók’s Viola Concerto, Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante and Strauss’s Don Quixote. She has given recitals in Asia, Europe, and North America and her performances have been broadcast by North American and European public radios. As a chamber musician she has participated in many prestigious festivals, including Marlboro, Santa Fe, and Caramoor, and has collaborated with the Guarneri Quartet, and performed at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. She is also a member of the prestigious Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society Two. A recipient of numerous awards, Teng Li was the first prize-winner at the Johansson International and the Holland-America Music Society competitions, and second prize-winner at the 2003 Primrose International Viola Competition and the Irving M Klein International String Competition. She was accepted into the Central Conservatory in Beijing in 1992 and at sixteen entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where her teachers were Michael Tree and Joseph DePasquale.
The cellist Winona Zelenka obtained her Bachelor of Music and Artist Diploma at the University of Indiana, and studied with the legendary Janos Starker. Ontario born and raised, her main teachers included William Findlay, Vladimir Orloff and William Pleeth. As a soloist she has performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Mississauga Symphony, the Scarborough Philharmonic, and the Huronia Sinfonietta. A proponent of new music, she gave the world première of Invocation II for cello and orchestra with Huronia Sinfonietta, a work written for her by Canadian composer Michael Pepa. Winona Zelenka is currently serving as Acting Principal of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and has held that position since the 2004/2005 season. She has also been Assistant Principal of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra since 2005, and served as Principal during the summers of 2007 and 2008. A dedicated recitalist and chamber musician, she recently formed Trio Arkel with violinist Marie Bérard and violist Teng Li. She plays the “Starker Guanerius”, formerly owned by Janos Starker, on loan to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for her use, thanks to the generosity of Dr Edward Pong. Her début CD was recorded on this cello.