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Princeton University Concerts’ 2018-19 Season

Princeton University’s 2018-19 Concert Season Preview

Anniversaries are often a time for looking back on all that has come before. And with 124 years of presenting the world’s greatest musicians, there can be no doubt that Princeton University Concerts has made an immeasurable impact in the history of classical music. But as we look ahead to our 125th season, we choose to look toward the future.

Bobby McFerrin – Friday, Sept.  21 – 7:30 p.m.


Bobby McFerrin is not so much a musician as he is an instrument of music itself, a pure distillation of sound into joy whose performances blur the lines between performer and audience, fusing the two into a joyous communion.

Jerusalem String Quartet – Thursday, Oct. 11 – 8 p.m.

with Pinchas Zukerman, Viola & Amanda Forsyth, Cello

We’ll kick things off by bringing back the acclaimed Jerusalem String Quartet after a six-year hiatus – but they won’t be coming alone. They’ll be bringing their longtime friend and mentor, legendary violinist Pinchas Zukerman, and his wife, cellist Amanda Forsyth. 

Schubert String Quintet in C Major, D. 956

– Wednesday, Oct. 17 – 6 & 9 p.m.

Takács String Quartet; David Requiro, Cello

Yehudi Menuhin might have put it best when he described Franz Schubert’s music as “purity itself.” His sublime cello quintet, completed weeks before his death, is quite possibly one of the most perfectly written works in all of chamber music. 

Abigail Washburn, Banjo & Wu Fei, Guzheng – Thursday, November 8 – 7:30 p.m.

“Beijing Meets Banjo”

It might feel a bit strange to use the words ‘rockstar’ and ‘guzheng’ in the same sentence, but if anyone can take this 2,000-year-old Chinese stringed instrument and crank it up to 11, it would be Wu Fei.

Richardson Chamber Players – Sunday, Nov. 11 – 3 p.m.

“From Rio to Brooklyn”

Featuring mixed chamber works of George Gershwin, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Silvestre Revueltas, Astor Piazzolla, and Cuban composer Leo Brouwer.

Simón Bolíver String Quartet – Sunday, Dec.  2 – 2 p.m.

Exploring “Art & the Americas”

-Panel discussion following the concert, moderated by Gustavo Dudamel

As Music Director of the Simón Bolíver Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Dudamel will bring together a string quartet made of the principals in the orchestra, to play a program that explores music’s ability to transcend geographical and political borders and unite us in our shared experiences.

Martin Fröst, Clarinet & Henrik Måwe, Piano

– Thursday, Dec. 13 – 8 p.m.

When asked ‘what’s your favorite instrument to hear in a classical music recital?’ most people’s default response probably wouldn’t be ‘the clarinet.’ That is, until they’ve heard the sweeping sounds of Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst. For his PUC debut he’s joined by fellow Swede Henrik Måwe for a sumptuous spread of Brahms, Poulenc, and Vivaldi/Telemann arrangements.

Musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic – Monday, Jan. 7 – 7 p.m.

Exploring “Art & Faith”

-Panel discussion following the concert, moderated by Gustavo Dudamel

Conductor Sir George Solti once said, “Mozart makes you believe in God,” and it’s hard to disagree after listening to the absolute perfection of his Clarinet Quintet.

Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time – Wednesday, Feb. 6 – 6 & 9 p.m.

Stefan Jackiw, Violin; Jay Campbell, Cello; Yoonah Kim, Clarinet; Conrad Tao, Piano

No words can adequately capture the towering mystery of Oliver Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.” One can speak of the piece’s backstory, composed in a World War II concentration camp and inspired by the biblical depiction of an Angel of God heralding the end of days.

Richardson Chamber Players – Sunday, Feb. 10 – 3 p.m.

“Then & Now: Celebrating PUC’s 125th Anniversary”

Featuring mixed chamber works by Camille Saint-Saëns, Johannes Brahms, Eric Nathan, Richard Strauss, and Anton Arensky written during PUC’s inaugural season (1894-1895) paired with works of today.

Gabriel Kahane, Vocalist/Composer – Thursday, Feb. 14 – 7:30 p.m.

“8980: Book of Travelers”

In these divided times, music has an ever-more important role as a universal language of connection, and a reminder of our shared experience.

Schubert Octet for Winds and Strings in F Major, D. 803

– Tuesday, Feb. 19 – 6 & 9 p.m.

Brentano String Quartet; Anthony McGill, Clarinet; Jennifer Montone, Horn; Daniel Matsukawa, Bassoon; Leigh Mesh, Bass

Listening to Franz Schubert’s Octet makes one feel that a reservoir of melody has been opened up, with torrents of tunefulness pouring from each measure.

 Steven Isserlis, Cello & Connie Shih, Piano – Thursday, Feb. 28 – 8 p.m.

Steven Isserlis is – without question – one of the greatest cellists performing today. One of the only two living cellists in the Gramophone Hall of Fame, this is a man who never stops searching, reaching, and expanding his musical output.

Joyce DiDonato – Sunday, March 10 – 3 p.m.


Joyce DiDonato is one of the great communicators of our era – able to bridge genres and generations with her profound humanity, her musical vision, and her extraordinary voice.

Alexander Melnikov, Piano & Andreas Staier, Piano

– Thursday, March 14 – 8 p.m.

Back in 2016, Alexander Melnikov came to PUC and played a 3-hour program of the complete preludes and fugues of Shostakovich that left the audience with their jaws squarely on the floor. Now he returns with good friend and fellow keyboard maven Andreas Staier to perform a gloriously intimate program of Shubert’s four-hand piano music.

Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Violin & Polina Leschenko, Piano

– Thursday, March 28 – 8 p.m.

This wild-child of the violin has exploded onto the international scene in recent years with an untamable energy and a far-reaching approach to repertoire that runs from baroque and classical to commissions and reimagined modern masterpieces.

Takács String Quartet- Marc-André Hamelin, Piano & John Feeny, Bass

– Thursday, April 4 – 8 p.m.

At this point, the Takás String Quartet are part of the PUC family, making their 20th appearance on the series this season. But this year will be different – not only because of their recently announced new second violinist Harumi Rhodes, but also because they’ll be bringing along the magnificent pianist Marc-André Hamelin to play the scales off of Schubert’s ‘Trout’ Quintet.

Australian Chamber Orchestra-

Richard Tognetti, Artistic Director & Paul Lewis, Piano

– Thursday, April 11 – 8 p.m.

There’s something indescribable about watching the 18 players of the Australian Chamber Orchestra perform together – the way they move, stand, breather, and play as one, led by the indefatigable Richard Tognetti.

Avi Avital, Mandolin & Omer Avital, Bass – Tuesday, April 16 – 7:30 p.m.

“Avital Meets Avital”

What do you get when you mix up Moroccan, North African, Israeli, and Mediterranean musical traditions and filter them through a blend of jazz and classical idioms? We probably would never have known if not for the musical union of mandolinist Avi Avital and bassist Omer Avital (no relation).

Ensemble Berlin, Featuring Members of The Berlin Philharmonic

– Tuesday, April 23 – 7 p.m.

Exploring “Art & Nature”

-Panel discussion following the concert, moderated by Gustavo Dudamel

Maestro Dudamel’s relationship to the hallowed Berlin Philharmonic stretches back a decade and includes close personal connections with the orchestra’s most recent music directors, Claudio Abbado and Sir Simon Rattle For this concert, Dudamel has chosen a handful of musicians from that august orchestra to perform a program that explores nature in all of its forms.

Princeton University Orchestra – Michael Pratt, Director

Princeton University Glee Club – Gabriel Crouch, Director

Gustavo Dudamel – Conductor  

– Friday, April 26 – 7:30 p.m.

Exploring “Art & Society”

For the final concert of his residency, Maestro Dudamel picks up his baton for the first time and does the thing he does better than anyone else in the world today: inspire and empower young people through the power of music.

Ébène String Quartet – Thursday, May 2 – 8 p.m.

At the top of the list for ‘cool things from France’ is the Ébène String Quartet, perhaps the only group in history that can smoothly transition from Bartók to barbershop harmonies, Brahms to Bruce Springsteen. Here they’ll focus on Beethoven as part of their multi-year cycle of his complete string quartets…

Check out Princeton University Concert’s 2018-19 season! All concerts take place in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, unless otherwise noted. Richardson Auditorium is located on the Princeton University campus behind Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street.  For tickets and information, go to www.princetonuniversityconcerts.org; 609-258-2800.

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