Shai Wosner

Pianist Shai Wosner has attracted international recognition for his exceptional artistry, musical integrity, and creative insight. His performances of a broad range of repertoire-from Beethoven and Schubert to Ligeti and the music of today-reflect a degree of virtuosity and intellectual curiosity that has made him a favorite among audiences and critics, who note his “keen musical mind and deep musical soul” (NPR’s All Things Considered).

In the 2016-17 season, Mr. Wosner launches a new solo recital series, Schubert: The Great Sonatas, which continues his critically acclaimed engagement with the composer’s music. Described as a “Schubertian of unfaltering authority and character” by Gramophone, Mr. Wosner performs Schubert’s last six piano sonatas over two concert programs, comparing the pieces to “six thick novels, rich with insight about the human condition.” He performs the series this season in Israel, with performances in the U.S. and Japan scheduled for the 2017-18 season.

Beyond Schubert, Mr. Wosner has also been praised for inventive pairings of classical and modern masters. His latest recording, featuring concertos and solo works by Haydn and Ligeti with the Danish National Symphony conducted by Nicholas Collon, was released in June on the Onyx label to wide acclaim and was named “Concerto Choice” (September 2016) by BBC Music Magazine, which wrote: “Wosner’s notes describe these composers’ use of humor as ‘like two distant relatives sharing an old family joke’. Wit nevertheless rubs shoulders effortlessly with intensity and even moments of terror – that Ligeti slow movement involves sounds that resemble a siren and a police whistle. It’s the intelligence, perception and dazzling energy of Wosner’s playing that makes all this possible and vivid.” His earlier Onyx releases have also explored links between stylistically contrasting composers, including an album of solo works by Brahms and Schoenberg and an album of works by Schubert and Missy Mazzoli. 

Such juxtaposition is also a central feature in Mr. Wosner’s joint program with the Aurora Orchestra and Nicholas Collon in London, in which he performs concertos by Ligeti and Mozart and solo works by Chopin, Glass, Hindemith, and Nancarrow. Other concerto appearances in the 2016-17 season include Mr. Wosner’s return to the Berkeley, Columbus, Fresno, Jacksonville, North Carolina, and Jerusalem symphonies, as well as a performance of the Berg Chamber Concerto in Germany with violinist Veronika Eberle and the Kammerakademie Potsdam.

The music of Beethoven is also a major focus for Mr. Wosner this year in recital, chamber, and concerto performances. In addition to performing the composer’s last three piano concertos with various orchestras in the U.S., he continues two Beethoven collaborations: Bridge to Beethoven-a recital series with violinist Jennifer Koh-and the complete works for cello and piano with Ralph Kirshbaum. Among the Bridge to Beethoven performances this season is a program in Philadelphia featuring the local premiere of Vijay Iyer’s Bridgetower Fantasy. In New York, Mr. Wosner and Ms. Koh also perform a recital of works by Beethoven, Debussy, Fauré, and contemporary composers György Kurtág and Kaija Saariaho. Mr. Wosner and Mr. Kirshbaum’s 2016-17 performances of Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano include concerts at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, and in Sedona, AZ. Last season, the duo performed the series at London’s Wigmore Hall, which was recorded for fall 2016 release on Onyx Classics.

In addition to his Onyx releases, Mr. Wosner’s discography includes a duo recording with Ms. Koh, titled Signs, Games + Messages, on the Cedille label. Weaving traditional Central European folk music with 20th-century modernism, the recording features works by Bartók, Janácek, and Kurtág, including the latter’s duet piece for which the album was named. 

Mr. Wosner is a recipient of Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award-a prize he used to commission Michael Hersch’s concerto Along the Ravines, which he performed with the Seattle Symphony and Deutsche Radio Philharmonie in its world and European premieres. He was in residence with the BBC as a New Generation Artist, during which he appeared frequently with the BBC orchestras, including conducting Mozart concertos from the keyboard with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He returned to the BBC Scottish Symphony in both subscription concerts and Proms performances with Donald Runnicles and appeared with the BBC Philharmonic in a live broadcast from Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall. As a concerto soloist in the U.S., Mr. Wosner has appeared with the orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Berkeley, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco, among others. In addition to the BBC orchestras, he has performed abroad with the Barcelona Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, LSO St. Luke’s, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, Orchestre National de Belgique, Staatskapelle Berlin, and the Vienna Philharmonic, among others. Mr. Wosner has also appeared with the Orpheus, St. Paul, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestras, having conducted the latter from the keyboard in a 2010 concert that was broadcast on American Public Radio.

Mr. Wosner has worked with such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Jirí Belohlávek, James Conlon, Alan Gilbert, Gunther Herbig, James Judd, Zubin Mehta, Peter Oundjian, Donald Runnicles, Leonard Slatkin, Jeffrey Tate, and Yan Pascal Tortelier, and has performed at summer festivals including the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Bravo! Vail festival, Grand Teton Music Festival, Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, and Ravinia Festival. For several consecutive summers, he was involved in the West-Eastern Divan Workshop led by Mr. Barenboim and toured as soloist with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. 

Widely sought after by colleagues for his versatility and spirit of partnership, Mr. Wosner has collaborated as a chamber musician with numerous artists, including Martin Fröst, Lynn Harrell, Dietrich Henschel, Cho-Liang Lin, Christian Tetzlaff, and Pinchas Zukerman. He has also collaborated with leading chamber ensembles, including the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet in The Schubert Effect recital series. Mr. Wosner is a former member of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society Two and performs regularly at various chamber music festivals, including Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival, the Oregon Bach Festival, the Piano Aux Jacobins festival in France, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Recent chamber music engagements include collaborations with the Pro Musica Society at the Maison Symphonique de Montreal and the Le Club Musical de Quebec at le Palais Montcalm in Canada; performances of works by Brahms, Schumann, and Takemitsu with the Friends of Chamber Music in Denver, Colorado; and appearances at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Laguna Beach Music Festival, and the Ravinia Festival. Among his recent solo recitals, he performed a program of Gershwin and Dvorák at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

Born in Israel, Mr. Wosner enjoyed a broad musical education from a very early age, studying piano with Emanuel Krasovsky as well as composition, theory, and improvisation with André Hajdu. He later studied at The Juilliard School with Emanuel Ax. Mr. Wosner is on the faculty at the Longy School of Music in Boston. He resides in New York with his wife and two children.

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