Back to Top
Events Calendar
Loading Events...
View full calendar

Yannick Nézet-Séguin Debuts with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra at the Kimmel Center January 26

Program features soloists Benjamin Hochman, piano ('01); Natalie Zhu, piano ('97); Don Liuzzi, percussion; and Mari Yoshinaga, percussion ('12); as well as conducting fellow Kensho Watanabe ('13)

[PDF format]

(December 17, 2013) In his first public appearance with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin brings his inimitable artistry and charisma to 100 of the world's finest young musicians on Sunday, January 26 at 3 p.m. at the Kimmel Center. Mr. Nézet-Séguin, "surely the most exciting talent of his generation," (The Independent, London) leads the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in Shostakovich's impassioned Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 ("Leningrad").

The program also includes Bartók's Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion, and Orchestra featuring faculty member and principal timpanist of the Philadelphia Orchestra Don Liuzzi together with Curtis alumni Benjamin Hochman, piano; Natalie Zhu, piano; and Mari Yoshinaga, percussion. Kensho Watanabe, conductor ('13) opens the program with Glinka's Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila.

Tickets are $5 to $45 and are available at the Kimmel Center Box Office and from Ticket Philadelphia at (215) 893-1999 or Part of the Jack Wolgin Orchestral Concert Series, this Curtis Symphony Orchestra performance is underwritten by a grant from the Markow-Totevy Foundation.

Building upon a rich tradition of distinguished conducting faculty and alumni, the Curtis Institute of Music launched a new conducting program this fall with Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin as its first mentor conductor. "Transmission of knowledge, sharing experiences, inspiring younger musicians to find their own true personality--this is how we keep bringing wonderful music to life for so many centuries," notes Mr. Nézet-Séguin. Mr. Nézet-Séguin provides musical and professional guidance, working one-on-one with the conducting fellow for the 2013-14 season, Kensho Watanabe.

Praised for its "otherworldly ensemble and professional level of sophistication" (New York Times), the Curtis Symphony Orchestra presents three concerts annually under the direction of eminent conductors in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center. Recent visiting conductors include Charles Dutoit, Simon Rattle, Robert Spano, and Michael Tilson Thomas. This professional training has enabled Curtis alumni to assume prominent positions in America's leading orchestras, as well as ensembles around the world.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin
triumphantly opened his inaugural season as music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra in Fall 2012. The New York Times has called Mr. Nézet-Séguin "phenomenal," adding that under his baton, "the ensemble, famous for its glowing strings and homogenous richness, has never sounded better."

Over the past decade, Mr. Nézet-Séguin has established himself as a musical leader of the highest caliber and one of the most sought-after conductors in the world. He is music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic, principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic, and artistic director and principal conductor of Montreal's Orchestre Métropolitain. He has made successful appearances with the world's most revered ensembles--the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and all the major Canadian orchestras, among many others. His talents extend beyond symphonic music, with critically acclaimed performances at New York's Metropolitan Opera, Milan's La Scala, London's Royal Opera House, and the historic Salzburg Festival.

In July 2012 Mr. Nézet-Séguin and Deutsche Grammophon announced a major long-term collaboration, following highly successful DVD releases of Gounod's Romeo and Juliet from the Salzburg Festival and Bizet's Carmen from the Metropolitan Opera. Among his projects are Stravinsky's Rite of Spring with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and live recordings of Mozart's seven mature operas from the Baden-Baden Summer Festival.

A native of Montreal, Mr. Nézet-Séguin attended Montreal's Conservatory of Music and continued his studies with renowned conductor Carlo Maria Giulini; he also studied choral conducting with Joseph Flummerfelt at Westminster Choir College.

Kensho Watanabe, from Greenwich, Conn., received a diploma in 2013 from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with distinguished conducting pedagogue Otto-Werner Mueller. He returned to Curtis in Fall 2013 as the Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow. Recent conducting experiences with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra include Jennifer Higdon's blue cathedral, a duet from Tchaikovsky's unfinished opera Romeo and Juliet, and Wagner's Flying Dutchman Overture at Verizon Hall; and Richard Danielpour's Consecration at Gould Rehearsal Hall. This fall he conducted the Curtis Opera Theatre's production of The Emperor of Atlantis.

Mr. Watanabe previously served as the assistant conductor of the Yale Symphony Orchestra under Toshiyuki Shimada, leading the YSO in concerts at Woolsey Hall and Battell Chapel. He has also served as the music director of Yale's Berkeley College Orchestra and as a cover conductor for the Atlanta Symphony and Symphony in C. He has participated in master classes with conductors including David Amado, Giancarlo Guerrero, Michael Jinbo, Colin Metters, and Robert Spano.

Mr. Watanabe received a bachelor's degree in biology from Yale College and a master's degree in violin performance from Yale School of Music. Mr. Watanabe performs regularly with the Philadelphia Orchestra as a substitute violinist and spends his summers at the Greenwood Music Camp, where he serves as orchestra conductor.

A native of Weymouth, Mass., Don Liuzzi joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as principal timpanist in 1989. He was a percussionist with the Pittsburgh Symphony, taught at Duquesne University, and was assistant conductor of the Three Rivers Young People's Orchestra. He also performed marimba and percussion solos on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood on PBS. He performs with the DePue Brothers Band, Philork Jazz, and the Philadelphia Orchestra Percussion Group.

Mr. Liuzzi has given master classes on four continents, including regular coaching for the New World Symphony, National Orchestral Institute, Pacific Music Festival, and Canton International Summer Music Academy in China. He has been an active chamber-music performer with the Network for New Music, recording for the Albany and CRI labels, and has two new solo and chamber releases with the Equilibrium label. He has performed as a timpani soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, China Philharmonic, and Sapporo and Guangzhou symphony orchestras.

A Yamaha performing artist, Mr. Liuzzi performs on the newly designed Yamaha Dresden-style timpani. He was coordinating producer for the documentary film Music From the Inside Out and has composed songs and arrangements for the DePue Brothers Band and music for percussion ensemble.

Mr. Liuzzi, who earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Michigan and his Master of Music degree from Temple University, joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1994.

Mari Yoshinaga
has performed to acclaim in solo, chamber music, and orchestral settings since coming to the States in 2007 to study timpani and percussion at the Curtis Institute of Music with Don Liuzzi, principal timpanist of Philadelphia Orchestra. As an orchestral percussionist, she has performed with conductors such as Simon Rattle, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Raphael Frühbeck de Burgos, and Alan Gilbert. Recently she returned to Japan for recitals in Tokyo and Kagashima. She was a residency artist at the Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival and her newly established percussion group, arx duo, will be ensemble in residence at Lake George Music Festival in Summer 2014. She has performed with eighth blackbird; recorded with guitarist David Starobin for Bridge Records; and worked with composers George Crumb, Martin Bresnick, Joan Tower, Paul Lansky, and James Wood, among others.

Born in Kagoshima, Japan, Ms. Yoshinaga holds a diploma in comparative culture from the Minami Academy iBS Language School in Kagoshima and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music. She is currently pursuing her Master of Music degree at the Yale School of Music, where she is a member of the Yale Percussion Group directed by Robert van Sice.

Winner of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2011, pianist Benjamin Hochman performs in major cities around the world as an orchestral soloist, recitalist, and respected chamber music partner, and is described by the New York Times as a "gifted, fast-rising artist."

Mr. Hochman made his successful New York recital debut in 2006 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has performed with the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver, and New Jersey symphonies; the Israel, Los Angeles, and New York Philharmonics, the New York String Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Canada, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, and the Tel Aviv Soloists.

Highlights of Mr. Hochman's 2013-14 season include recitals for the Washington Performing Arts Society at the Kennedy Center and in Boston at the Longy School of Music, and in New York at the 92nd Street Y's new SubCulture venue. His second solo recording, Homage to Schubert (Avie Records), features Schubert's sonatas D. 664 and D. 850 alongside contemporary tributes to Schubert by Jörg Widmann and György Kurtág.

Born in Jerusalem, Benjamin Hochman is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Mannes College of Music where his principal teachers were Claude Frank and Richard Goode. He is on the piano faculty of Bard College and the Longy School of Music. Benjamin Hochman lives in New York City with his wife, violinist Jennifer Koh.

Pianist Natalie Zhu is the recipient of a 2006 Musical Fund Society Career Advancement Award, 2003 Avery Fisher Career Grant, 2003 Andrew Wolf Memorial Chamber Music Award, and Astral Artistic Services' 1998 National Auditions. The Philadelphia Inquirer heralded Astral's presentation of Ms. Zhu in recital as a display of "emotional and pianistic pyrotechnics"; selections from the recital were later broadcast on National Public Radio's Performance Today. Since 2009 she has been the artistic director of the Kingston Chamber Music Festival in Rhode Island.

Ms. Zhu began her piano studies at the age of six in her native China and made her first public appearance at age nine in Beijing. At eleven she emigrated with her family to Los Angeles, and by fifteen was enrolled at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Gary Graffman and received the Rachmaninoff Award. She received a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music, where she studied with Claude Frank.

The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians for careers as performing artists on the highest professional level. One of the world's leading conservatories, Curtis provides its 168 students with full-tuition scholarships and personalized attention from a celebrated faculty. Its distinctive "learn by doing" approach has produced an impressive number of notable artists, from such legends as Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber to current stars Jonathan Biss, Juan Diego Flórez, Alan Gilbert, Hilary Hahn, Jennifer Higdon, and Lang Lang. Curtis alumni hold principal chairs in every major American orchestra, and each season they are featured as guest soloists with the world's leading orchestras, opera houses, and chamber music series.

Curtis's innovative programs encourage students to perform often and hone 21st-century musical skills. The school's facilities offer superb spaces for music-making, as well as state-of-the-art technologies to enhance learning. In addition to more than 200 performances in and around Philadelphia each year, students perform internationally with Curtis On Tour. When they graduate, they become musical leaders, making a profound impact on music around the globe. To learn more, visit

Curtis Symphony Orchestra
The Jack Wolgin Orchestral Concerts
Sunday, January 26 at 3 p.m.
Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor
Kensho Watanabe, conductor ('13)
Benjamin Hochman, piano ('01)
Natalie Zhu, piano ('97)
Don Liuzzi, percussion
Mari Yoshinaga, percussion ('12)

GLINKA Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila
BARTÓK Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion, and Orchestra, BB121
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 ("Leningrad")

Tickets: $5, $10, $22, $33, $45; available at the Kimmel Center Box Office and from Ticket Philadelphia at (215) 893-1999 or

Underwritten by a grant from the Markow-Totevy Foundation


Press Contacts

Jennifer Kallend
Managing Director of External Affairs and Patron Engagement
(215) 717-3190

Diana Wensley
Communications Manager
(215) 717-3129

About Curtis

2017–18 Media Calendar of Events

News Archive

Fast Facts

Press Kit

Photo Gallery

Curtis Logos