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Four Acclaimed Musicians kick off Brightmusic Summer Festival Thursday at St. Paul’s

Mark Neumann and Gregory Lee. Photos provided.
Musicians for the first concert (Sonatas. at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 6, include Mark Neumann, viola (left) and Gregory Lee, violin;. Photos provided.

The City Sentinel Online, Staff Report

Oklahoma City – The first concert of the 2019 Brightmusic Summer Festival (“Intimate Portraits in Chamber Music”) is slated for 7:30 p,.m. Thursday, June 6, when the subject will be “Sonatas.”

Several of the best musicians performing in the United States today will present Francis Poulenc’s Sonata for Clarinet & Piano; Johannes Brahms’ Sonata No. 2 for Viola & Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 120, No. 2, and Richard Strauss, Sonata for Violin & Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 18,

Musicians for the first concert (Sonatas. at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 6, including Gregory Lee, violin; Mark Neumann, viola; Chad Burrow, clarinet; amd Amy I-Lin Cheng, piano. Brightmusic performs at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral.

Those interested are encouraged to visit to study the deeply impressive credentials of these four musicians and the others performing in the course of the summer festival. Meanwhile, here is our overview of their backgrounds.

Gregory Lee

According to his biographical sketch on the Brightmusic website, Gregory Lee is “currently Associate Professor of Violin at the University of Oklahoma and Concertmaster of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.” While in Los Angeles, Lee was a member of the Pacific Symphony and Long Beach Symphony Orchestras. He worked as well with the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, California Symphony, San Francisco Symphony and Australian Chamber Orchestra. Gregory has also “recorded for many Hollywood motion pictures scores at 20th Century Fox, Sony/MGM, Warner Bros, Paramount and Capital Records.

Lee taught at Tunghai University (Taiwan) from 2004-2007, and during his career has given frequent solo and chamber music performacnes.

Born in Sydney (Australia), Gregory went to the “Queensland Conservatorium of Music at the age of 11. He was later accepted to study with the renowned pedagogue, Dorothy DeLay in New York at the age of seventeen.”

In addition to his work with the beloved Brightmusic, Lee has performed with Oklahoma Chamber Players and the Holmberg String Quartet. He has also been featured as a soloist with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.

Mark Neumann

Mark Neumann was appointed Associate Professor of Viola at the University of Oklahoma in August 2009. A native of Canada, Mark’s teachers have included such eminent violists as Karen Tuttle, Robert Vernon, and Jaroslav Karlovsky.

Neumann versatile career includes “solo appearances with the Victoria Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic and Thunder Bay Symphony orchestras; chamber music performances at the music festivals of Victoria, Banff, Sarasota, and the “Academy of Music” Festival (New Jersey); and broadcast recordings of chamber music for the CBC (Canada) and Deutschland-Funk (Germany).

He ha worked with the Calgary Philharmonic, the Lubbock Symphony, the Montreal Symphony and Victoria Symphony orchestras.

Having served on the faculties of  Texas Tech University and the University of Georgia, Mark has presented recitals and masterclasses in Taiwan, Brazil, Argentina, and states across the USA. Neumann has been a frequent invited faculty artist at the Vale Veneto ‘Festival de Inverno’ and the Florianopolis ‘Festival de Cordas de Santa Catarina’ in Brazil, and was also an invited performer at the 2007 International Viola Congress in Adelaide, Australia. His solo C.D. was released by the ACA Digital label in January 2009.

Besides his work with Brightmusic, Neumann currently performs with the Holmberg String Quartet, the Oklahoma Chamber Players and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra, and maintains an active schedule within the state and beyond as a performer and clinician.

Chad Burrow

Chad Burrow is recognized as one of the premiere clarinetists of his generation, and has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician in concert halls across the globe. The European press has said that Chad performs with “brilliant technique and tonal beauty mixed with an expressive ferocity.” Danish critic, Henrik Svane, went on to describe a performance as filled with “virtuosity, energy, and power without compromise.”

The New York Times recently called a Carnegie Hall appearance in Poulenc’s, Sonata, as giving a “strong impression” and being a “bright and genial account.”

In 2009, Chad was appointed, the Brightmusic site reports “to the clarinet faculty of the University of Michigan, where he teaches clarinet, chamber music and serves as the director for the Michigan Chamber Players. Additionally, he serves as co-artistic director for the Brightmusic Society of Oklahoma and is on the faculty of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival and Alpenkammermusik Festival in Austria.” He has worked with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the New Haven Symphony, Quartz Mouthan Music Festival and the Arizona Musicfest Orchestra.

Chad has performed frequent concert engagements abroad, including in Austria, Denmark, Taiwan and France. Recent performances in the U.S. have included Lincoln Center, Chamber Music Northwest, Benny Goodman centennial concerts in Carnegie Hall and Yale University. Others have taken place at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, and these universities: Rice, Houston, Northwestern, Notre Dame University, Texas Tech, North Texas, Texas Christian, Texas, Louisiana State and Oklahoma.

Chad is also the clarinetist for Duo Clarion, formed in 1999 with pianist Amy I-Lin Cheng.

Amy I-Lin Cheng

Pianist Amy I-Lin Cheng has won prizes in many competitions. As the winner of the Rising Young Artist Series, Cheng gave her Taipei debut recital in August 1999 in the National Recital Hall and toured Taiwan. She was invited by the Formosa Chamber Music Society to perform solo at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. The New York Concert Review stated, “her control of the keyboard is complete, technique easy and relaxed, with a wide range of touch, color and dynamics.” Claude Frank described her as “a brilliant, sensitive, imaginative and most beguiling pianist.” She gave her New York debut recital at Merkin Concert Hall in 1998.

Cheng has performed as soloist with the ‘Musica Viva’ Moscow Chamber Orchestra and with Oklahoma Community Orchestra. She made her Boston solo debut at the age of 17.

An avid chamber musician, she performed with the Van Dingstee String Quartet from the Netherlands and the American Chamber Players on tours in 2005-2006. She is co-Artistic Director of the Brightmusic Chamber Ensembe. Cheng has appeared at Merkin Concert Hall as a member of the Guild of Composers Chamber Ensemble and in concerts at Carnegie Hall. Dhe performed in The Third Jerusalem International Chamber Music Encounters in Israel directed by Issac Stern, and the 1999 La Jolla SummerFest. Cheng has appeared in 2004 Society of Composers, Inc. National Conference, and in music festivals in Denmark and Switzerland, OKMozart International Festival, Amadeus Piano Festival in Tulsa, International Clarinet Connection in Boston, Taos School of Music, and Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.

As the pianist for Duo Clarion, she collaborates with husband/clarinetist Chad E. Burrow.  An active educator, she has been frequently invited to give masterlcasses at universities in the U.S. and in Taiwan. She has been adjudicator for competitions in Taichung , Texas, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

About Concert No. 1 on June 6

Concert No. 1 (at 7:30 pm, Thursday, June 6) features Sonatas – three stellar compositions from great composers.

The evening will begin with a work by Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc – Sonata for Clarinet & Piano. Poulenc (January 7, 1899 – January 30, 1963), was from France. He composed a wide range of pieces for chamber music and other forms, including piano, choral, opera, ballet and orchestral. Originally known for whimsical compositions, his music became more serious (and religious) as he matured.

In the second slot for Concert 1 is Johannes Brahms, Sonata No. 2 for Viola & Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 120, No. 2. Brahms (May 8, 1833 – April 3, 1897) is remembered as a “perfectionist” who destroyed many of his unfinished compositions. That fact remains a source of sadness for his admirers. Along with Beethoven and Johann Sebastian Bach, he was in his era popularly deemed one of the “three Bs,” linking him to other great creators of music.

The Sonata for Violin & Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 18 from Richard Strauss is the third work of the first Brighmusic Festival concert. Strauss (June 11, 1864 – September 8, 1949) is considered a leader in the Romantic and early modern eras of music.

Sympathetic biographers note that he emerged in his own lifetime a classical music celebrity after his works became standards around the world.

The Summer Festival will continue Saturday (June 8), Sunday (June 9) and Tuesday (June 11). For an overview of composers featured in the concerts, see Pat McGuigan story ( Tickets for each concert are $20 at the door. The Festival package price of $50 admits you to all performances during the Summer Chamber Music Festival – at a savings of $30 over the single-ticket price for the four concerts.

Children, students and active-duty military personnel are admitted free with ID. Free parking is available south of the cathedral. For ticket details information, including online purchases, visit . For more information, visit To make a contribution by check supporting the world’s best music, send to: Brightmusic Society of Oklahoma, P. O. Box 20254, Oklahoma City, OK 73156 .

Note: Patrick B. McGuigan, publisher and editor of The City Sentinel newspaper, contributed to this report. He oined the Brightmusic Board of Directors last month.

Brightmusic musicians Amy I-Lin Cheng and Chad Burrow . Photos provided.
Brightmusic musicians Amy I-Lin Cheng and Chad Burrow . Photos provided.

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