Music@Menlo’s Next Generation

Janos Gereben on June 20, 2017
Artistic Directors cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han in performance l Photo: Tristan Cook


Music@Menlo, by now the Bay Area’s entry in the global derby of Greatest Summer Music Festivals, is much more than a series of superb chamber music concerts, running July 14-Aug. 5 this year. In addition to recordings, master classes, lectures, Festival Encounters and Café Conversations, co-directors David Finckel and Wu Han are leading a vital institute for young musicians.

The Young Performers Program, directed by Gloria Chien, is for advanced students, ages 9-18, and the International Program, directed by Gilbert Kalish is for young professionals, ages 18-29. These tutoring immersion programs also provide busy performance opportunities, many of which audiences can enjoy in free Young Performers Concerts, and free Prelude Performances with International Program artists, such as the season opener, with Erno Dohnányi's Serenade in C Major, and Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor on the program.

Finckel with young musicians


International Program participants already have important titles, prizes, and accolades, coming from top conservatories and music schools, including the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Curtis Institute of Music, New England Conservatory, Northwestern University, and McGill University.

These are the 11 musicians selected for the 2017 Music@Menlo International Program:


* Pianist Kevin Ahfat, from Canada, two-time winner of the Juilliard Concerto Competition and of the Schimmel International Piano Competition, the Steinway & Sons Concerto Competition, and others. Student of Joseph Kalichstein and Stephen Hough at the Juilliard School.

Ramón Carrero Martínez

* Violist Ramón Carrero Martínez, from Caracas and alumnus of José Antonio Abreu's El Sistema, has performed internationally, founding member of the Teresa Carreño String Quartet. Student of Daniel Avshalomov at the Manhattan School of Music.

* Cellist Brannon Cho has won prizes in competitions in Washington, D.C., Miami, and Japan; was featured in an episode of the HBO series Masterclass with Joshua Bell. Student at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music.

* Violinist Brandon Garbot plays in both the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; participated in the inaugural Chamber Music Encounters of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Student of Ida Kavafian and Arnold Steinhardt at the Curtis Institute of Music.

*  Swedish cellist Antonio Hallongren is a multiple prize winner of international competitions, has launched a competition himself in his capacity as artistic director and cofounder of the Avalon Music Consort. He served as principal cellist of the Swedish National Youth Orchestra and the Juilliard Orchestra, where he studied with David Finckel and Richard Aaron.

* Cellist Alexander Hersh is the grandson of S.F. Conservatory professor Paul Hersh. He has been principal cellist of the Festival Academy Orchestra at the Lucerne Festival. Raised in Chicago, Hersh has just earned a master’s degree at the New England Conservatory, under the tutelage of Paul Katz and Kim Kashkashian.

* Violinist Danny Koo a busy professional, he is a new member of Ensemble DITTO, which aims to introduce new audiences to the chamber music repertoire. He teaches at New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School as well as privately in Boston and Korea. Born in Chicago and raised in Philadelphia, Koo received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New England Conservatory, studying with Donald Weilerstein, Soovin Kim, and Malcolm Lowe.

Zhenni Lee


*  Pianist Zhenni Li won top prizes at the 2017 New York Concert Artists Worldwide Debut Audition, Astral Artists’ 2016 National Auditions, the Grieg International, Concours Musical de France, and many others. Upcoming engagements include debut recitals in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall and the Berlin Philharmonie, and her CD recording debut on the Steinway & Sons label. Li has bachelor's and master's of music degrees from Juilliard, studying with Seymour Lipkin and Joseph Kalichstein, a diploma from the Yale School of Music, and is now completing doctoral studies at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, with Stéphane Lemelin.

* Korean violist Jenni Seo has performed with international artists in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Walt Disney Hall, the Sarasota Opera House, and many more. A recent alumna of the Music Academy of the West, Seo is also a returning artist of the Perlman Music Program. She is currently a graduate student at Juilliard, studying with Cynthia Phelps.

* Violinist Jeremías Sergiani-Velázquez has served as principal second violinist on tour with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He toured Nepal and Japan with violinist Midori as part of the Music Sharing International Community Engagement Program. He has a bachelor of music degree from New England Conservatory, studying with Miriam Fried, and a master of music degree from the Juilliard School with Sylvia Rosenberg and Ronald Copes. He is currently pursuing a Professional Studies Certificate at Manhattan School of Music, with Rosenberg.

* Violinist James Thompson, from Cleveland, Ohio, is a graduate student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with Jaime Laredo. He is currently on the faculty at the Aurora School of Music and has served as a teaching fellow at both the Encore Chamber Music Festival and the Western Reserve Chamber Music Festival.