PIANIST MICHELLE CANN with the Aeolus String Quartet
Piano, Violins, Viola, Cello
“A compelling, sparkling virtuoso” (Boston Music Intelligencer), pianist Michelle Cann made her
orchestral debut at age fourteen and has since performed as a soloist with numerous orchestras including The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
A champion of the music of Florence Price, Ms. Cann performed the New York City premiere of the composer’s Piano Concerto in One Movement with The Dream Unfinished Orchestra in July 2016 and the Philadelphia premiere with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in February 2021, which the Philadelphia Inquirer called “exquisite.” She has also performed Price’s works for solo piano and chamber ensemble for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Detroit, and the New World Symphony, among other presenters.
Highlights of her 2021–22 season include debut performances with the Atlanta, Detroit, and St. Louis symphony orchestras, as well as her Canadian concert debut with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. She also receives the 2022 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by the Sphinx Organization, and the 2022 Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award. Embracing a dual role as both performer and pedagogue, her season includes teaching residencies at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and the National Conference of the Music Teachers National Association.
Ms. Cann regularly appears in recital and as a chamber musician throughout the U.S., China, and South Korea. Notable venues include the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Barbican in London with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Ms. Cann regularly performs duo recitals with her sister, pianist Kimberly Cann; together their “sheer verve and evident passion is something to behold” (Mountain Xpress).
Ms. Cann has appeared as cohost and collaborative pianist with NPR’s From The Top, collaborating with actor/conductor Damon Gupton, violinist Leila Josefowicz, and violinist and MacArthur Fellow Vijay Gupta. She has also been featured on WRTI-FM and WHYY-TV in Philadelphia. Her summer festival appearances have included the Taos Chamber Music Festival, Yellow Barn, Perlman Music Program, Music Academy of the West, Geneva Music Festival, and Pianofest in the Hamptons, where she serves as artist in residence.
Ms. Cann has won top prizes in state, national, and international competitions including the International Russian Music Piano Competition, the Blount Slawson Young Artists Competition, and the Wideman International Piano Competition. In 2019 she served as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s MAC Music Innovator in recognition of her role as an African-American classical musician who embodies artistry, innovation, and a commitment to education and community engagement.
Ms. Cann manifests this commitment through her activities in Philadelphia and as part of touring engagements around the globe. She has served as the director of two children’s choruses in the El Sistema- inspired program Play On Philly and was among the first class of ArtistYear fellows at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she worked with community partners City Year, Teach for America, and AmeriCorps to provide arts education and access to underserved communities in Philadelphia. In 2019 she served on the faculty of the Sphinx Performance Academy during its inaugural year at the Juilliard School.
Ms. Cann holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Paul Schenly and Dr. Daniel Shapiro, and an Artist’s Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Robert McDonald.
Ms. Cann served as a collaborative staff pianist at the Curtis Institute of Music for several years. She joined the faculty in 2020 as the inaugural Eleanor Sokoloff Chair in Piano Studies.
The Aeolus Quartet
With performances acclaimed for both “high-octane” excitement (Strad) and “dusky lyricism” (New York Times), the Aeolus Quartet has been awarded prizes at nearly every major competition in the United States and performed across the globe with showings "worthy of a major-league quartet" (Dallas Morning News). Formed in 2008, the Quartet is comprised of violinists Nicholas Tavani and Rachel Shapiro, violist Caitlin Lynch, and cellist Alan Richardson. Mark Satola of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes, “The quartet has a rich and warm tone combined with precise ensemble playing (that managed also to come across as fluid and natural), and an impressive musical intelligence guided every technical and dramatic turn.” The Aeolus Quartet has performed in venues ranging from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Lincoln Center's Great Performers Series to Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, to Dupont Underground, a subterranean streetcar station in DC's Dupont Circle. They were the 2013-2015 Graduate Resident String Quartet at the Juilliard School and are currently Quartet-in-Residence at Musica Viva NY.
In addition to extensive touring throughout the United States, the 2021-22 season includes a Morgan Library performance as well as a feature on the Violin Channel. The Aeolus Quartet recently appeared on “Inside Chamber Music” presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, at the Artosphere Festival hosted by the Walton Arts Center, and in the New York City premiere of chamber opera “Ellen West” at the Prototype Festival. The Quartet serves as the Artistic Directors for the Charles Wadsworth Piano Competition, an innovative competition with an emphasis on chamber music and a commitment to creating equal access for all applicants.
Strong advocates for contemporary music, the Aeolus Quartet has premiered works by Jonathan Bailey Holland and worked with composers such as John Corigliano, Keeril Makan, Missy Mazzoli, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Timothy Mauthe, and Alexandra T Bryant.
The Aeolus Quartet has released several critically acclaimed albums of classical and contemporary works through Naxos and Azica labels which are available on iTunes, Amazon, and major retailers worldwide. The Quartet’s Many-Sided Music initiative has produced two albums in an ongoing effort to promote works by American composers. The latest of these, Ariel and Other Poems, was recorded with Azica Records and released in July 2021.
The Aeolus Quartet’s numerous honors include Grand Prize at both the Plowman Chamber Music Competition and the Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition, as well as First Prize at the Coleman International Chamber Ensemble Competition. They were also prizewinners at the Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition and the International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition in New England. The Austin Critics' Table named the Aeolus Quartet their 2016-17 "Best Touring Performance” for Rambunctious, a collaboration with Spectrum Dance Theater.
The Quartet has performed across North America, Europe, and Asia in venues such as Alice Tully Hall, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Reinberger Recital Hall at Severance Hall, The Library of Congress, Renwick Gallery, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center. In addition, the quartet was featured on the hit Netflix miniseries, The Defenders.
Dedicated to sharing the joy of chamber music with new audiences, the Aeolus Quartet has been widely recognized for their highly creative and engaging educational programs. The Quartet was honored to receive a Chamber Music America Residency Partnership Grant, and in recognition of their artistic achievement, CMA named this project its “Guarneri Quartet Residency” for the year. This residency promoted engagement with multiple interactive performances at Duke Ellington School for the Arts, the Sitar Arts Center, and George Washington University. The Aeolus Quartet received the Educator Award presented by the Fischoff National Chamber Music Association in acknowledgment of the positive impact of their educational efforts in underserved communities. Additionally, the Quartet was awarded the John Lad Prize, which culminated in a residency involving large-scale community engagement work, masterclasses, and performances at Stanford University. The Aeolus Quartet has served as teaching faculty at Stanford University’s Education Program for Gifted Youth, the Austin Chamber Music Workshop, Point CounterPoint, and the Chloe Trevor Music Academy. Working in collaboration with the University of Texas through the Rural Chamber Music Outreach Initiative, the Quartet has presented educational programs and performances in communities throughout the state of Texas. Through their multiple residencies with the Chamber Music Society of Detroit alone, the Aeolus Quartet has reached over 18,000 students in the greater Detroit metro area.
The Aeolus Quartet has been fortunate to collaborate with many of today’s leading artists, including Renee Fleming, Ida Kavafian, Joel Krosnick, Peter Wiley, Michael Tree, and Paul Neubauer. They studied extensively with the Juilliard, Guarneri, St. Lawrence, Cavani, and Miró Quartets. Other mentors include Peter Salaff, Donald Weilerstein, Itzhak Perlman, and Mark Steinberg. Members of the Quartet hold degrees from the Juilliard School, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Maryland, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Thanks to the generosity of the Five Partners Foundation, the four members play on a set of instruments by famed Brooklyn luthier Samuel Zygmuntowicz. The Quartet is named for the Greek god Aeolus, who governed the four winds. This idea of a single spirit uniting four individual forces serves as an inspiration to the members of the Aeolus Quartet as they pursue their craft.