2016 Archives

Concert honoring pianist and Professor Joaquín Achúcarro's 25 years at SMU

Seven former students — all prizewinning international artists — will perform

January 28, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) - World-renowned concert pianist and Joel Estes Tate Professor Joaquín Achúcarro recently celebrated 25 years of teaching at SMU Meadows School of the Arts. 

To honor him, Meadows is hosting a tribute concert on Friday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus.  Admission is free, and no reservations are needed; call 214-768-2787 for information.

Joaquín Achúcarro
Joaquín Achúcarro

The concert will feature performances by seven of his outstanding former SMU students, all of whom are winners of major competitions worldwide and perform internationally.  The concert is curated by two of them, recording artists Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung, who are also Meadows’ new Johnson-Prothro Artists-in-Residence. The couple also serve as artistic directors of The Joaquín Achúcarro Foundation, founded in 2007 to showcase, educate and benefit the careers of pianists, while developing and maintaining the legacy of Joaquín Achúcarro in perpetuity.

“Joaquín can only described as a treasure – to Meadows, to SMU, to Dallas and right on up to the cultural life of the world,” said Sam Holland, dean of the Meadows School. “He is truly one of the greatest. It is a privilege and pleasure to be able to honor him for his 25 years of service, not only in the form of his extraordinary performances in our community, but for bringing pianistic talent of the highest quality to the Meadows School for the last quarter century.”

Bax said he and wife Lucille were eager to honor their former teacher by curating the concert. Bax, who studied with Achúcarro for eight years – four in Italy and four at SMU – said, “I first met Maestro Achúcarro when I was 11 years old in Siena, and since that day he has been more like a father figure to me than a simple teacher. He and his wife Emma have shaped my musical life, through the most formative of years, and they have influenced my upbringing. Their kindness, knowledge, and love for people and music is a constant reminder of how we should lead our lives.”

The program and performers, in order of appearance, are:

Brahms’ Intermezzo, op. 118, no. 2 in A major will be performed by Sergio de Simone (Artist Certificate ’98). De Simone is professor of piano at Trinity Laban Conservatory of Music and Dance in London and two music schools in Italy, Potenza State Conservatoire and Scuola di Musica di Sesto Fiorentino. He gives master classes worldwide and is also a collaborative pianist for the Mozarteum in Salzburg and other prestigious institutions.

Yi Wu (Artist Certificate ’93) will play Etudes op. 10, nos. 3 and 12 by Chopin and Godowsky. He won first prize in the Franz Liszt Piano Competition and inaugural Esther Honens International Competition, among others; made his American debut with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; and tours Europe every year. A Steinway artist, he divides his time between North Dallas and Shanghai, where he directs the piano department at Shanghai Normal University.

Lucille Chung (Artist Certificate ’03) will perform Scriabin’s Preludes, op. 16, no. 1 and op. 11, no. 21, as well as Ligeti’s Etude no. 10 “Der Zauberlehrling.” Since her debut at age 10 with the Montreal Symphony, she has performed with over 65 leading orchestras around the world, from Philadelphia to Moscow to Seoul, and given recitals at the finest concert halls in over 30 countries, from Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Her recordings of the works of Ligeti and Scriabin on the Dynamic label have received five-star reviews internationally.

Quejas o la Maja y el Ruiseñor (Complaint, or the Girl and the Nightingale) from Goyescas by Granados will be performed by Daniel del Pino (Artist Certificate ’01). The Spanish concert pianist has performed in prestigious venues on five continents and been a frequent guest at festivals worldwide, including 15 consecutive years at the Newport Music Festival in Rhode Island. A composer and recording artist whose CDs include the complete Goyescas on the Verso label, he is on the faculty of the Musikene (Superior Conservatory of Basque Country) and artistic director of two concert series in Spain.

Natasha Kislenko (Artist Certificate ’97 and M.M. ’99) will play La fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair) and L’isle joyeuse (The Joyful Island) by Claude Debussy. The Moscow-born pianist made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1996. She has won numerous prizes in international competitions, performed across Russia, Europe and the Americas, and is currently on the piano faculties of UC-Santa Barbara and the Music Academy of the West.

Rachmaninoff’s Etude-Tableau, op. 39, no 5 in Eb minor will be performed by Liudmila Georgievskaya (Artist Certificate ’10). A prizewinner in a dozen national and international competitions, she has performed as a recitalist and soloist in numerous countries and received enthusiastic reviews in the international press. She is also an avid performer of chamber music and contemporary music and a member of the Dallas-based Voices of Changes new music ensemble. She gives master classes worldwide and is on the music faculty at SMU Meadows.

Alessio Bax (M.M. ’98, Artist Certificate ’96) will conclude the concert with a performance of Liebesleid by Kreisler and Rachmaninoff and the Hungarian Dance no. 5 by Brahms and Cziffra. Bax’s numerous awards include first prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition, a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant and Lincoln Center’s 2013 Martin E. Segal Award. He has appeared as soloist with more than 100 orchestras to date, including the London and Royal Philharmonic orchestras, Japan’s NHK Symphony, and the Dallas Symphony with Jaap van Zweden, and regularly performs at music festivals worldwide. His discography includes seven critically acclaimed recordings.

About Joaquín Achúcarro


Joaquín Achúcarro with the National Youth Symphony Orchestra of Peru, Pablo Sabat conducting.

Joaquín Achúcarro has been described by the Chicago Sun Times as “the consummate artist.” In October 2015, the prestigious French magazine Diapason selected Achúcarro’s BMG-RCA recording of Bernard Herrmann’s Concerto Macabre for Piano and Orchestra with London’s National Philharmonic Orchestra as one of “The Best 100 Piano Recordings of All Time,” along with legends such as Rachmaninoff, Horowitz, Rubinstein and Cortot. Achúcarro’s exceptional artistic career has earned him recognition both nationally and internationally.

Born in Bilbao, Spain, Achúcarro won a number of international prizes in Europe during his student days, but it was his victory in England at the 1959 Liverpool International Competition (one year after Zubin Mehta had won it as conductor) and the rave reviews in the London papers after his debut with the London Symphony in the Royal Festival Hall that marked the beginning of his career.

Since then, he has enjoyed an uninterrupted international career. He has toured 61 countries performing in venues such as Avery Fisher Hall, Berlin Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw, Kennedy Center, Musikverein, Royal Albert Hall, Salle Gaveau, Salle Pleyel, Teatro alla Scala, Suntory Hall, Sydney Opera House, Teatro Colón and The Barbican, both in recital and as a soloist. He has performed with over 200 different orchestras, including the Berlin, New York, Los Angeles and London Philharmonics, Chicago Symphony, La Scala of Milan, Sydney Symphony, Santa Cecilia di Roma, RTE Ireland, BBC Symphony, Philharmonia, Royal Scottish, City of Birmingham, Hallé, National de France, Yomiuri, Tokyo Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony, RIAS Berlin, Tonkunstler Wien, national orchestras of Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela and every orchestra in Spain. He has played with an impressive list of more than 350 conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Sir Adrian Boult, Riccardo Chailly, Sir Colin Davis, Zubin Mehta, Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Seiji Ozawa and Sir Simon Rattle.

He was named UNESCO’s “Artist for Peace” in 2000 in recognition of “his extraordinary artistic achievement.” He is Accademico ad Honorem of the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy, and in his home country, Achúcarro has received the highest honors in the arts: the Gold Medal of Fine Arts and The National Award for Music. In 2003, King Juan Carlos of Spain bestowed upon him the Great Cross of Civil Merit. Moreover, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) named the miniplanet 2131 after him as a tribute to his successful international career.

His 2010 DVD/Blu-Ray “Achúcarro plays Brahms,” in which he plays the Brahms Concerto no. 2 with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony (Opus Arte label), received five-star reviews throughout Europe. It was named “Editor’s Choice” of Classic FM Magazine and rated “Outstanding” by the International Record Review (both in London) and climbed to the top of the bestsellers and “Hot New Releases” charts on Amazon. The following year, Euroarts released Achúcarro’s DVD/Blu-Ray “Falla and Friends,” with the pianist performing Falla’s Nights in the Garden of Spain with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle, which also garnered critical acclaim. In 2014, Sony reissued two of his recordings: Goyescas by Granados (Choc Prize in Classical Music 2014) and Achúcarro, poeta del piano.

Achúcarro has revised Joaquin Rodrigo’s Piano Concerto, which he has also recorded for Sony. He has made prizewinning recordings of de Falla, Granados, Ravel and Brahms with BMG-RCA, Claves and Ensayo. Other recordings include music by Schumann, Schubert, Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy, Bartok, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Turina and Hermann.

Since 1989, Achúcarro has held the Joel Estes Tate Chair in piano at the Meadows School of the Arts, adjusting his teaching periods to his busy concert schedule. He also serves as a summer professor at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy.

In 2007, The Joaquín Achúcarro Foundation was established by Janet Kafka, Honorary Consul of Spain in Dallas, Texas, and a group of individuals and institutions from the Dallas community “to perpetuate his artistic and teaching legacy” and to help young pianists at the outset of their careers. For more information, visit http://achucarrofoundation.org/.

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