Tong-Sheppard Duo … Fantasies to Fairy Tales

Wednesday, October 25, 2023 | 7 PM

Violinist Jessica Tong and Pianist Michael Sheppard first met at the Peabody Conservatory, where they studied with legendary violinist Pamela Frank and pianist Leon Fleisher respectively. After their first performance of Mozart Violin Sonatas more than 10 years ago, they discovered they share a very rare singular vision in their approaches to music-making.  They have continued to collaborate ever since that first performance, presenting inventive and adventurous programs that integrate both well-loved and lesser known masterpieces for violin and piano.


For their performance at the Opera House, they have created a special program of music called Fantasies and Fairy Tales, which features:


Robert Schumann | Fantasiestücke op. 73
Gershwin/Frolov | Concert Fantasy on Porgy and Bess
Karol Szymanowski | Mythes, op. 30
Franz Schubert | Fantasy in C Major, D. 934


Canadian violinist Jessica Tong has garnered international acclaim as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, having been described as an “outstanding talent” (Performing Arts in Canada) with “keen sensitivity and receptivity” (Bloomington Herald Times), who “allow[s] us to savour her sense of ardour and intensity, but never at the detriment of her tonal beauty.” (ClassiqueInfo France). She has been a top prizewinner at the Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition, the Toronto Symphony, Canadian Music and Yellow Springs International Chamber Music Competitions and has served as first violinist of both the Vinca and Larchmere String Quartets, during which time she was Artist-in-Residence for the Perlman Music Program in Florida, the ProQuartet Odyssée Program in France and at the University of Evansville in Indiana. She is currently the Violin Professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia, Chamber Music Director of the Composers Conference, and the newly appointed Artistic Advisor at Avaloch Farm Music Institute.


A devoted chamber musician, her performances have taken her to Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Merkin Hall, les Invalides in Paris and the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, and led to collaborations with artists such as Pamela Frank, Leon Fleisher, Cho-Liang Lin and members of the Cleveland, Vogler, Brentano and Borromeo Quartets. Her album of chamber works by Stephan Krehl with the Larchmere Quartet and clarinetist Wonkak Kim was released in 2016 by Naxos Records to critical acclaim.


Known as “a virtuosic soloist possessed of power, sensitivity, earthiness, and humor” (Indianapolis Star) with the “power to make an audience sit up and pay attention…thought-provoking for performers and listeners alike” (All Music Guide), Michael Sheppard was a winner of the prestigious American Pianists Association Classical Fellow Award, a designation that led to the release of a critically acclaimed solo recording by Harmonia Mundi in 2007. As a pianist, conductor and composer, Sheppard gives master classes, and teaches and plays with some of the top singers and instrumentalists around the US.  He also coaches singers, instrumentalists, and conductors, working at both the Peabody Conservatory and the Baltimore School for the Arts, sharing his love and understanding of music and the artistic process with future generations.


Sheppard today stands at a crossroads, spending large amounts of time writing as well as performing and teaching. He has worked closely with fellow composers John Corigliano, Christopher Theofanidis, Michael Hersch, Robert Sirota and with the late Nicholas Maw, demonstrating a deep love of new music; his eclectic tastes also led him recently to musical-direct performances of Jason Robert Brown’s Broadway show “The Last Five Years.”



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Adults, Opera House Members, Students