WQXR presents Beginner’s Ear, a guided, live music meditation series every Friday from January 17 through March 6, moderated by New York Times contributing critic Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim. Each meditation will feature live music from a different artist.
Dive into colorful sound worlds of music for clarinet, viola and piano in different configurations as Anthony McGill, principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic, joins forces with the violist Amadi Azikiwe and the pianist Kyle P. Walker. The program includes luscious works by Max Bruch, the crystalline poise of Mozart, and the bluesy heat of David Baker.
Unplug and recharge your batteries during a 60-minute deep dive into the art of listening with guided meditation and live music. Beginner’s Ear brings you closer to the music by opening the mind to both silence and sound. Through guided meditation, participants reach a deep state of attentive calm, out of which a live performance unfolds with visceral beauty.
The meditation will be led by Kien Chu, Founder of Cloth of Stillness.
Beginner’s Ear was created by New York Times contributing critic Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim as a way to dissolve the mental static that so often gets in the way of a clear connection to a musical performance. Each 60-minute session begins with a mindfulness teacher leading participants in a 15-minute guided meditation. Out of the resulting deep stillness, a 30-minute musical performance emerges, unfolds in the space, and recedes back into the rich calm. The event wraps up with a short conversation, moderated by Corinna, about aspects of mindful listening.
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim is a writer, music critic and the founder of Beginner’s Ear. Thomas Droge is an author, teacher, and Chinese medicine practitioner with deep roots in the Daoist tradition, as well as the meditation consultant for Beginner’s Ear.
Clarinetist Anthony McGill is one of classical music’s most recognizable and brilliantly multifaceted figures. He serves as the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic — that orchestra’s first African-American principal player — and maintains a dynamic international solo and chamber music career. Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (The New York Times), as well as for his “exquisite combination of technical refinement and expressive radiance” (The Baltimore Sun), McGill also serves as an ardent advocate for helping music education reach underserved communities and for addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music. He was honored to take part in the inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by John Williams and performing alongside violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and pianist Gabriela Montero.
McGill’s 2019-20 season includes the premiere of a new work by Tyshawn Sorey at the 92Y, and a special collaboration with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato at Carnegie Hall. He will be a featured soloist at the Kennedy Center performing the Copland concerto at the SHIFT Festival of American Orchestras with the Jacksonville Symphony, and will also perform concertos by Copland, Mozart, and Danielpour with the Richmond, Delaware, Alabama, Reno, and San Antonio Symphonies. Additional collaborations include programs with Gloria Chien, Demarre McGill, Michael McHale, Anna Polonsky, Arnaud Sussman, and the Pacifica Quartet.
Amadi Azikiwe, violist, violinist and conductor, has been heard in recital in major cities throughout the United States, such as New York, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Houston, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., including an appearance at the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Azikiwe has also been a guest of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at the Alice Tully Hall in New York, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. He has appeared in recital at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, the “Discovery” recital series in La Jolla, the International Viola Congress, and at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Since then, he has performed throughout Israel, Canada, South America, Central America, Switzerland, India, Japan, Nigeria, Hong Kong, and throughout the Caribbean.
As a soloist, Mr. Azikiwe has appeared with the Prince George’s Philharmonic, Delaware Symphony, Virginia Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Fort Collins Symphony, Virginia Beach Symphony, Roanoke Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony, Western Piedmont Symphony, Salisbury Symphony, Richmond Philharmonic, SUNY Fredonia Symphony Orchestra, Indiana University Symphony Orchestra, Gateways Music Festival Orchestra, Hot Springs Music Festival Orchestra, City Island Baroque Ensemble of New York, National Symphony of Ecuador, and at the Costa Rica International Music Festival. He has also toured with Music from Marlboro, and performed at the Sarasota, Tanglewood, Aspen, Norfolk, and San Juan Islands Festivals, El Paso International Chamber Music Festival, Salt Bay Chamber Festival, Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival, Virginia Arts Festival, Maui Classical Music Festival, Missouri Chamber Music Festival, Yachats Music Festival, Staunton Music Festival, Carolina Chamber Music Festival, and the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. Mr. Azikiwe’s performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today”, “St. Paul Sunday”, on WNYC in New York, WGBH in Boston, WFMT in Chicago, and the BBC, along with television appearances in South America.
A strong advocate for social equality, critically-acclaimed pianist Kyle P. Walker believes music can speak to social issues better than verbal language can, the understanding of which he brings to both traditional Western repertoire and that of the living world-wide composers with whom he collaborates. Highlights of this season include concerto, chamber, and solo appearances with the Colour of Music Festival, a solo recital tour throughout the East and West coast, and a Lincoln Center appearance alongside Miss America 2019. As an advocate of social justice Walker is a founding member and chamber music producer of The Dream Unfinished, an activist orchestra and collective which supports NYC-based civil rights and community organizations through concerts and presentations.This season focuses on climate justice by featuring composers from communities recently and historically impacted by climate change.
Kyle performs with the group Sanctuary Project NYC. The ensemble, composed of classically trained musicians and dancers, creates original productions through a collaborative rehearsal process, centered around structured improvisation. His performances have been featured on media broadcasts including WQXR’s Mcgraw Hill Financial Young Artists Showcase, NPR’s Public Radio East, and UNC-TV, to name a few. Recently, he made his solo debut at New York’s Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, performed the Schumann piano concerto with the East Carolina University Symphony Orchestra, as well as presenting solo performances at Steinway Hall NYC, The Queens Museum, The Great Hall at Cooper Union, The House of the Redeemer, National Opera America, The Metropolitan Opera Guild, Birmingham Jefferson Concert Hall in Alabama, and the innovative music and multimedia venue Spectrum NYC. His festival performances include the Tibor Varga Music Festival, Switzerland, The Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival, NC, The Ferrara Chamber Music Festival, VA, Enso String Quartet Chamber Music Festival, CT, the Beethoven Institute, NYC and PianoFest in the Hamptons, NY.
In 2013, Mr. Walker was awarded 1st prize winner of Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition. He has also taken 1st prize in The National Talent Hunt of Omega Psi Phi, and the Greensboro Music Teachers Association Young Artist competitions. He is a frequent collaborator in new music performance projects with living composers such as Vijay Iyer, John Link, Courtney Bryan, Brian Erickson and Joan Szymko.
A healing arts practitioner of meditation, yoga and qi gong for nearly 20 years, kien chu aspires to bridge these contemplative technologies into the creative processes of clothing design, poetry and education. This integration is manifested through his brand, cloth of stillness, where the aesthetic of “holistic poeticism”explores how clothing can support and integrate stillness practices of body/ heart/mind awareness into the stream entry of life. As a design professor at Parsons School of Design, he continues to nurture and guide future creative innovators towards a deepening of mindful awareness in all aspects of their evolution. He holds certifications as both a yoga and meditation instructor, where there is an ongoing inquiry of cultivating a compassionate presence through stillness and movement. Find his path through, www.clothofstillness.com and www.instagram.com/clothofstillness