Boston Conservatory at Berklee to Host Inaugural pianoSonoma Boston Festival

May 09, 2019 Madison Spahn

Of the countless summer music festivals held each year, few allow non-professional musicians to collaborate with some of classical music’s most prominent emerging artists. The dynamic husband and wife team Michael Shinn and Jessica Chow Shinn, the Conservatory’s dean of music, and associate professor of collaborative piano, respectively, have created such a program. For the first time, pianoSonoma will hold two festivals—one in California, and another in Boston, hosted by Boston Conservatory at Berklee from Tuesday, May 14 to Friday, May 17, 2019.

The Shinns, both Juilliard graduates and Yamaha performing artists, launched pianoSonoma in 2011 with the goal of fostering enriching artistic collaboration between professional artists and serious musicians of all backgrounds. Through a week of intensive rehearsing and coaching, young professionals will develop leadership skills while deepening their connection to the creation and performance of chamber music.

The festival’s unique model includes private lessons, guided coachings, master classes, and the opportunity to perform in a final concert. Michael Shinn and Jessica Chow Shinn aim to create a non-hierarchical environment and inviting space where musicians of all skill levels can explore the artistic process together and build collaborative relationships.

The artists in residence will present a thrilling opening concert on Tuesday, May 14 at 7:00 p.m. in Boston Conservatory’s Seully Hall that is free and open to the public. The evening’s repertoire includes works by John Adams, Ludwig van Beethoven, Philip Glass, and Astor Piazzolla, as well as an arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5.

The artists in residence for the Boston festival include several members of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee community. Cassidy Goldblatt (M.M. '19, violin) engages new listeners through cross-disciplinary improvisation; Peruvian violinist Jésus Saenz (G.P.D. '17, P.S.C. '19, violin) has performed internationally and has served as concertmaster for several orchestras; and Antonina Styczen (P.S.C. '18, A.D. '19, flute) released her debut solo album with the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016. In 2018, Conservatory alumnus Katsuya Yuasa (A.D. '17, clarinet) was awarded an artistic residency at the festival. In addition, pianist Angie Zhang is a current Kovner Fellow at the Juilliard School and three-time winner of the Juilliard Concerto Competition.

The Shinns have utilized pianoSonoma to develop an experimental curriculum in entrepreneurship at the Conservatory. In fall 2018 they created a Conservatory course that offered graduate students hands-on experience in organizing and hosting a music festival. Over two semesters, students have engaged in every aspect of administration, from logistical planning and budgeting to marketing and concert production. Under the supervision of Jessica Shinn, students have acted as pianoSonoma’s operations and management team in Boston.

The pianoSonoma Festival will take place at Boston Conservatory at Berklee Tuesday, May 14 through Friday, May 17, 2019. The opening concert will take place on Tuesday, May 14 at 7:00 p.m. in Seully Hall at 8 Fenway, and is free and open to the public.