Washington University announces 2019-20 Great Artists Series

Eric Owens and Jeremy Denk; Jean-Yves Thibaudet; Jupiter String Quartet; and Alisa Weilerstein with Inon Barnatan

Owens (Photo: Dario Acosta)

Eric Owens is a “towering bass-baritone” (The New York Times) who “shakes you when he sings” (Chicago Sun Times). Pianist Jeremy Denk is a MacArthur Fellow known for his “penetrating intellectual engagement” and “the generosity of his playing” (The New York Times).


Next fall, Owens and Denk will share the stage as part of the 2019-20 Great Artists Series at Washington University in St. Louis. In all, the series will present four affordably priced concerts featuring some of today’s finest musicians.

“This consistently exciting series attracts an enthusiastic and growing audience,” said Todd Decker, chair of the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences. “These performers are among the most outstanding classical music artists of our day, and we are proud to welcome them to St. Louis.”

Owens and Denk will launch the series Dec. 8 with an intimate performance of Franz Schubert’s beloved song cycle “Die Winterreise.” The series will continue Jan. 17 with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, renowned for his “commendable ferocity” (The Washington Post) and “loving finesse” (The Seattle Times), who will be joined by members of the St. Louis Symphony.

On Feb. 21, the Great Artists Series will welcome the Jupiter String Quartet,a powerful and elegant young ensemble” known for its “technical finesse and rare expressive maturity” (The New Yorker). Concluding the series, on March 29, will be MacArthur Fellow Alisa Weilerstein, a cellist of “stylistic sensitivity” and “spontaneous delight” (Gramaphone), joined by Inon Barnatan,“one of the most admired pianists of his generation” (The New York Times).

The Jupiter String Quartet (Photo: Sarah Gardner)


Subscriptions to all four recitals are $120 and include premier reserved seating, post-concert receptions with the artists (when available), and all ticketing fees. Subscribers also will receive complimentary tickets to the Nov. 17 performance by the Momenta Quartet, which will feature a world premiere string quartet by Christopher Stark, assistant professor of music in Arts & Sciences.

Single tickets are $40, or $32 for seniors and Washington University faculty and staff, and $15 for students and children.

Subscription renewals began April 7. New subscriptions go on sale May 1. Single ticket sales begin Aug. 26.

All performances take place in the E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall of the 560 Music Center, located at 560 Trinity Ave., at the intersection with Delmar Boulevard. Tickets are available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, 314-935-6543, or at edison.wustl.edu.

For more information, call 314-935-5581 or email music@wustl.edu.

Weilerstein and Barnatan (Photo: Paul Stuart)

Dec. 8
Eric Owens, bass-baritone, and Jeremy Denk, piano
Program: Franz Schubert’s “Die Winterreise

Equally at home in orchestral, recital and operatic repertoire, Owens is a champion of new music and an esteemed interpreter of classic works. His powerful poise, expansive voice and instinctive acting faculties have graced stages around the world.

A native of Philadelphia, Owens has appeared with New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the Washington National Opera, the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Paris Opera (Bastille), the Dutch National Opera, the English National Opera and London’s Royal Opera (Covent Garden), among many others. A former member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, he originated the role of Aristotle Onassis in the world premiere of Michael Daugherty’s “Jackie O.”

Other premieres include Elliot Goldenthal’s “Grendel” and John Adams’ “Doctor Atomic,” which also received the 2012 Grammy for Best Opera Recording. Owens made his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut under the baton of David Robertson in Adams’ “El Niño.”

Denk, one of America’s foremost pianists, is a winner of the Avery Fisher Prize and frequently performs at Carnegie Hall. In recent seasons, he has appeared: with the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra; on tour with Academy St. Martin in the Fields, led by Joshua Bell; and at London’s Royal Albert Hall, as part of the BBC Proms.


Jan. 17
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
Program TBD

In a career stretching more than three decades, Thibaudet has recorded more than 50 albums, performed at major venues around the world and built a reputation as one of today’s finest pianists.

Born in Lyon, France, Thibaudet plays a range of solo, chamber and orchestral repertoire — from Beethoven, Liszt, Grieg and Saint-Saëns to Khachaturian, Gershwin and contemporary composers such as Qigang Chen and James MacMillan. From the start of his career, Thibaudet also has delighted in music beyond the standard repertoire, from jazz to opera, which he transcribed himself for the piano.

Recent concert highlights include performances with: the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where he serves as artist-in-residence; the Atlanta and National symphony orchestras; the San Francisco and Houston symphonies; the China Philharmonic; and the Philadelphia Orchestra. His recent tour of Asia included performances with the Singapore, NHK and Guangzhou symphony orchestras and the Malaysian, Hong Kong and China philharmonics.

His numerous honors include two Grammy nominations, the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the Diapason d’Or, the Choc du Monde de la Musique and the Edison Prize, as well as Gramophone and Echo awards. For the 2019-20 season, Thibaudet will serve as the St. Louis Symphony’s Jean-Paul and Isabelle Montupet Artist-in-Residence.

Feb. 21
The Jupiter String Quartet
Program TBD

Formed in 2001, the Jupiter String Quartet consists of violinists Nelson Lee and Meg Freivogel, violist Liz Freivogel (Meg’s older sister) and cellist Daniel McDonough (Meg’s husband, Liz’s brother-in-law).  Daniel, Nelson and Meg met as students at the Cleveland Institute of Music; Liz studied at nearby Oberlin College. The four musicians completed their schooling together at the New England Conservatory of Music and reside in Boston.

Known for its democratic ethos and dedication to the core string quartet literature — particularly the music of Beethoven and Bela Bartok — the Jupiter String Quartet has appeared at major venues around the world, including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and Sejong Chamber Hall in Seoul. Festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival and School, Caramoor International Music Festival, Music at Menlo, the Banff Centre and the Seoul Spring Festival.

Major honors include first prize in the Banff International String Quartet Competition, grand prize in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and an Avery Fisher Career Grant. The quartet chose its name because Jupiter was the most prominent planet in the night sky at the time of its formation, and the astrological symbol for Jupiter resembles the number four.

March 29
Alisa Weilerstein, cello, and Inon Barnatan, piano
Beethoven’s complete cello sonatas

 A “young cellist with an old soul” (NPR Music), Weilerstein infuses both traditional and contemporary music with technical precision and emotional resonance. Her performances are marked by intensity, sensitivity and a wholehearted immersion into every work.

Weilerstein has appeared with leading orchestras across the United States and Europe. Her recording of the Elgar and Elliott Carter cello concertos, with Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin, was named “Recording of the Year” by BBC Music. Her next release, on which she played Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Czech Philharmonic, topped U.S. classical charts. Her most recent release is “Transfigured Night,” features music of masterworks of the First and Second Viennese Schools, performed with Norway’s Trondheim Soloists.

Other career milestones include her 2010 performance of Elgar’s concerto with Barenboim and the Berlin Philharmonic, which was televised live to an audience of millions worldwide and subsequently released on DVD. In 2009, she was invited to perform at the White House by Michelle Obama and toured Venezuela as soloist with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra.

Barnatan is celebrated for his poetic sensibility, musical intelligence and consummate artistry. He is recipient of a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, which recognizes “young artists of exceptional accomplishment.” In 2017, he made his BBC Proms debut with Kazushi Ono and the BBC Symphony at London’s Royal Albert Hall. This year marks the beginning of his tenure as music director for the La Jolla Music Society.

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