Edward Simon @ Edward Simon, Hrabba Atladottir, Eric Gaenslen
Hrabba Atladottir - Violin
Eric Gaenslen - Cello
The master of Argentinian tango’s homage to the changing seasons in his home country provides a new twist on Vivaldi’s famous work. One of Piazolla’s most popular works, the suite uses the passion of the traditional tango to express a remarkable range of seasonal textures, from wit and melancholy to intimate and theatrical.
Edward Simon, a native of Venezuela, has made a name for himself over decades in America as a jazz improviser, composer-arranger, band leader and educator. DownBeat has called him “one of the strongest pianists of his generation, with intuitive empathy and drum-like ingenuity,” while Jazz Journal International has singled out “his deep emotional statements” as a composer and improviser. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area as a member of the all-star SFJAZZ Collective, he has been a Guggenheim Fellow along with being awarded multiple composition grants as part of the Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works initiative. Simon, a Yamaha artist, has recorded 15 albums as a leader or co-leader. His latest is Sorrows and Triumphs, released via Sunnyside Records in April 2018; the album was declared “unmissable” in Nate Chinen’s Take Five column on WBGO.org, and the pianist was featured in an extensive DownBeat interview upon the disc’s release. This follows Simon’s 2016 album Latin American Songbook, which won him an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album; a four-and-a-half-star DownBeat review also praised his fresh vision of classic Latin American songs as “grand and sophisticated.”
Another key release for Simon was his 2014 Sunnyside album Venezuelan Suite, which saw the pianist blend the tuneful, buoyant sounds of his native country with the harmonically sophisticated, forward-looking manner of jazz. All About Jazz marveled: “Venezuelan Suite… is the perfect confluence of Venezuelan ideals, jazz language and chamber-esque sophistication. In short, it’s a masterpiece.” One of Simon’s most recent collaborative projects is the trio Steel House, with the pianist joined by bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade for a group that blends acoustic jazz improvisation with electronic-tinged atmospherics for an inviting, song-oriented sound. This virtuoso trio has performed at top venues across the country, with L.A. Weekly saying: “All-star bands can be a hit-and-miss prospect, but Steel House exceeds expectations…These extraordinary instrumentalists convert their shared histories into poetic, genre-leaping music.” The group presented its debut album, Steel House, via ArtistShare in 2017. Simon is on the faculty of the Roots, Jazz & American Music program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and he has also served on the faculties of the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, City College of New York and University of the Arts.
Icelandic violinist Hrabba Atladottir studied in Berlin, Germany with professor Axel Gerhardt and professor Tomasz Tomaszewski. After finishing her studies, Hrabba worked as a freelancing violinist in Berlin for five years, regularly playing with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Deutsche Oper, and Deutsche Symphonieorchester. Hrabba also participated in a world tour with the Icelandic pop artist Björk, and a Germany tour with violinist Nigel Kennedy. Joshua Kosman, music critic of San Francisco Chronicle, praised her performance of Vivaldi’s Spring, and called her violin playing “delicate but fervent”.
In 2004, Hrabba moved to New York, playing on a regular basis with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Orchestra of St. Luke’s and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra among other orchestras. She also played with the Either/Or ensemble in NY in close collaboration with Helmut Lachenmann.
Since August 2008, Hrabba is based in Berkeley, California, where she has been performing as a soloist and with various ensembles such as The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, The Empyrean Ensemble, the ECO ensemble, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and New Century Chamber Orchestra. Since 2009, Hrabba is a lecturer in Violin at UC Berkeley.
Cellist Eric Gaenslen has performed as a chamber musician, recitalist and guest soloist in venues across North America and Europe. As cellist of the renowned Rossetti String Quartet, Eric performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Berlin Konzerthaus and at the Maverick and Vail Bravo Music Festivals and Festival del Sole. One of his favorite collaborations was playing the Gian Carlo Menotti Suite for two cellos and piano with Gautier Capucon and Jean-Yves Thibaudet in Spoleto, Italy, for the composer’s 95th birthday. He also performed with the Ying and Enso String Quartets. Solo highlights include the world premiere of Siddartha for cello and string orchestra, by Laura Carnibucci, and a performance of Bloch's Shelomo at New York's Avery Fisher Hall. From 2009–11 Eric held the position of Acting Principal Cellist of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
A devoted educator, Mr. Gaenslen gives master classes in cello and chamber music across the country and has worked with students at the University of Missouri, Kansas City; State University New York at Purchase; California State Universities at Fresno, Northridge and Long Beach; the Brevard Music Center; Cornish College and the University of Western Washington He has held faculty positions at the Mannes College in New York and at the University of California, Santa Cruz. From 2013–15 Eric was Artist in Residence at the University of Washington where he instructed the undergraduate cello majors as well as the Doctoral students. Eric currently teaches privately in Burlingame and Palo Alto and also maintains a busy performing career.
Mr. Gaenslen holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and a Master of Arts degree from the Juilliard School of Music. His teachers have included Joel Krosnick, Robert Mann, Aldo Parisot, William Pleeth and Irene Sharp.