Empowering Students Through the Joy of Music and the Arts

“Music is Life” Series
Nov. 29th, 2020 8PM

Guest #1


Lauded by The Washington Post for playing “…with intelligence, poetry and proportion,” pianist Tanya Bannister has made a versatile career that is immersed in tradition combined with an entrepreneurship that seeks to create projects that inspire genuine connections between music and the world we live in.

As co-founder and Artistic Director of Alpen Kammer Musik in Austria, Ms. Bannister has created an intimate musical experience in which music lovers and students from around the world can spend 12 days in a small Alpine village engaged in the study of chamber music with world class faculty.

Ms. Bannister has also co-founded Roadmaps Festival in New York City, an artistic, humanitarian and cultural venture. This year’s festival centered around the crisis in Syria.

Ms. Bannister has been a winner of Concert Artists Guild International Competition and the New Orleans International Piano Competition confirming her status among the leading pianists of her generation. Receiving further distinction as an “Artist to Watch” on the cover of SYMPHONY Magazine, Ms. Bannister’s career has already brought her to many of the world’s great concert halls, with recitals at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Salle Cortot in Paris, Teatro Communale in Bologna, Tokyo’s Nikkei Hall, London’s Queen Elizabeth and Wigmore Halls, The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.

With a history of philanthropy , in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which occurred soon after Ms. Bannister’s victory in New Orleans, she joined forces with three previous winners of that competition to form “Pianists for New Orleans.” These artists have performed together across the US to achieve their ambitious mission to raise $100,000 to help support the classical music community of New Orleans. Ms. Bannister also has a live recital CD that she created together with renowned ethnobotanist Paul Alan Cox following the devastating tsunami in Japan to raise funds to support children that survived in the devastated remote island of Oshima.

In addition to mastering the traditional repertoire, she has a deep affinity for contemporary music and has premiered numerous works written for her, including Christopher Theofanidis, David del Tredici, Suzanne Farrin, Harold Meltzer and Sidney Corbett. She has released several CDs, including a CAG release of piano concerti of Mozart, Chopin and Schubert arranged with string quintet, which was selected for special mention by the New York Times.

Ms. Bannister’s debut recording, featuring three late piano sonatas of Muzio Clementi, was released in 2006 on the Naxos label. BBC Music Magazine declared: “Barenboim’s EMI Beethoven sonata cycle is readily brought to mind. Yet although she possesses enviable articulate and accurate fingers, she is also sensitive to the music’s many lyrical asides.” Her recording for Albany Records, This is the story she began, features solo piano music of American composers David Del Tredici, Christopher Theofanidis, Suzanne Farrin and Sheila Silver; the New American Record Guide complemented her as “exceptionally talented…with a scintillating tone and subtle sense of chording.”

Born to an English father and Japanese mother, Ms. Bannnister started her musical education in Hong Kong and continued in London, Italy, Germany and the USA.  Ms. Bannister holds degrees from the Royal Academy of Music in London under Christopher Elton and Hamish Milne, Yale University, where she studied with Claude Frank, and New York’s Mannes School of Music, where she received an Artist Diploma as one of a handful of pianists selected to study with Richard Goode.


Guest #2


“Itin’s is a rare and exciting artistry indeed…poised, pure, and ravishing in its range of colour, Itin’s playing is a prime example of a superb technique put at the service of an inquiring and imaginative mind.” (Daily Telegraph, London)

Audiences throughout the world revere Ilya Itin’s unique artistry. Playing to sold out houses in Japan and in the US, he is known for his extraordinary range, power, quality of sound and command of the piano. His Princeton recital was singled out by the Philadelphia Inquirer as a “top ten musical moment of the year”, and the NYT critic described him as: “…a brilliantly insightful pianist who offered a superb recital “.   Since capturing the Gold Medal, BBC Audience Award, and Contemporary Music Prize at the 1996 Leeds International Piano Competition, Ilya Itin has performed throughout the world bringing his powerful musical imagination and mastery to wide ranging repertoire. “I’d go to hear him play the phonebook,” remarked BBC TV critic Ian Burnside.

Ilya Itin has performed with many of the world’s great conductors, including Sir Simon Rattle, Neemi Jarvi, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Yakov Kreizberg, Vassily Sinaisky, Valery Polyansky, and Mikhail Pletnev performing as soloist with orchestras, including the Cleveland Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Tokyo Symphony, the National Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the China National Symphony, the Symphony Orchestra of India; the Mexico City Philharmonic; and the Rochester Philharmonic.

Much lauded for his chamber music collaborations with colleagues and friends in the US, Europe and Asia, he recently performed Beethoven Archduke Trio in New York with the Jupiter Chamber Players followed by a recital of the complete Brahms Sonatas in Tokyo with violinist, Fuminori Maro Shinozaki.  He has made numerous recordings of chamber music, including Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata, Brahms Viola Sonata, Martinu Double Violin Sonata, and Piazzola Spring/Autumn in Buenos Aires, with Igor Gruppmann, violin and Vesna Gruppmann, viola/violin. Mr. Itin has also recorded a full recital with legendary violinist Ida Haendel at the Miami International Piano Festival.

During the 2015-2016 he will be releasing his newest recording of the complete Debussy Preludes on vinyl and high definition audio. His Princeton recital in July 2015 will also be released as a state of the art high definition recording of the live performance. It features beloved works of Rachmaninov and Scriabin. Itin’s DVD of the “Russian Marathon” concerts at the Miami International Piano Festival was also recorded live, in one day and included, all 24 Preludes of Rachmaninov, and Prokofiev’s 7th and 8th Sonatas. Other recordings include Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto with the Jerusalem Camerata on the JDR label, and Prokofiev’s 6th Sonata with Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on VAI.

Mr. Itin is also a much sought after teacher giving regular master classes throughout Japan, in Princeton, Miami, and New York. His students include winners of top prizes in international competitions, and highest awards at the most competitive conservatories of the US and Japan.

Born in Yekaterinburg, Russia, his piano studies began at the Sverdlovsk School for the Gifted with Natalia Litvinova. He went on to graduate from the Moscow Conservatory with the highest honors in 1990 working with legendary teacher Lev Naumov. Mr. Itin won his first major piano competition while at the Conservatory, taking second place in the 1990 Russian National Rachmaninov Competition. Soon after, he won top honors in the William Kapell Competition, followed by First Prize, and the Special Chopin Prize at the Casadesus Competition (Cleveland Competition), and the Best Performance of a Work of Mozart, Best Prokofiev Performance, and Third Prize at the Gina Bachauer Competition.

Ilya Itin is on the teaching faculties of the Musashino Academy in Tokyo, the Academy of the Miami International Piano Festival and the Golandsky Institute at Princeton University. He has also taught in the piano departments of the Juilliard School prep and college divisions, Peabody Conservatory, and the Graduate Program at CUNY. Ilya Itin resides in Tokyo, Japan, and New York City where he maintains a private teaching studio.


Guest #3


​Canadian-Israeli pianist, Michael Berkovsky, made his New York debut at Avery Fisher Hall and has toured as a soloist in Ireland, Costa Rica, Japan, Italy, Israel, Canada, and the United States. He has won numerous international piano competition awards and has performed under the baton of Vladimir Feltsman, Stefan Sanderling, Leon Fleisher and William Noll. He was a recipient of the America Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarships from 1994-2001, and with the recommendation of Maestro Valery Gergiev, was awarded White Nights Foundation Scholarships while studying at the Juilliard School.

Dr. Berkovsky regularly collaborates with numerous chamber groups and award winning musicians, including Jasper string quartet and musicians from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Opera Company. Michael is involved in the cultural life of his community in Toronto and often performs with local groups like Kindred Spirit Orchestra, York Symphony Orchestra and many others. In addition he performs in piano duet with Lang Ning Liu.

Dr. Berkovsky was a guest artist at numerous international festivals, including arts Naples where he collaborated with Russian pianists Pavel Narcessian, and Music Niagara Festival. He frequently judges competitions in Canada and is a board member of the Canadian Music Competition and Artistic Committee advisor to Chinese Cultural Center Music Festival. He also conducts master classes regularly in Toronto, Kingston, and Barrie. Mr. Berkovsky is faculty at Glenn Gould School and Taylor academy. He also maintains a private studio in which a number of his students have placed highly in provincial, national and international competitions.

Michael was born in the former Soviet Union and immigrated to Israel in 1990. He has studied with Nataly Litvinova and was mentored by Alexander Slobodyanik. In 2001, his family moved to Toronto, Canada. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Juilliard where he studied with Yoheved Kaplinsky and Julian Martin. In 2011, he completed his Doctoral degree at the Peabody Conservatory of the John Hopkins University while under the tutelage of Professor Yong Hi Moon.