Category Archives: Artist Biographies

Niccolo Athens — Artist Biography

Niccolo Athens (b. 1988) was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas.  He began his musical life as a violist, and started studying composition privately with Timothy Kramer in 2004.  In 2010 he received his bachelor of music in composition from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Samuel Adler.   He is currently enrolled in the DMA program at Cornell University, where his primary teachers are Steven Stucky and Roberto Sierra.  Ensembles which have performed his work include the Juilliard Orchestra, the New Juilliard Ensemble, the Momenta Quartet, the Villiers Quartet, the Olmos Ensemble, the Talea Ensemble, the East Coast Contemporary Ensemble, the Longfellow Chorus, the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, and the San Antonio Symphony.  Upcoming projects include a new work for violin and piano for Sean Chen and Betty Zhou, and a symphony in two parts.

During the summer, Niccolo has attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Eastern Music Festival, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the Aspen Music Festival, the Staunton Music Festival, and the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau.  He has received two BMI Student Composer awards, in 2006 and in 2009, and in 2012 he received a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  Other awards include first prize in the emerging composer category of the American Art Song Competition for Composers, and first prize in choral music from the Longfellow Chorus Competition for New Works.

Niccolo received scholastic distinction from Juilliard in recognition of his research on the music of American composer Alan Hovhaness, whose work is a special passion and area of interest for him.  This work, “The Walls Between the Worlds Grow Thin,” was cited in a 2011 article about Hovhaness which appeared in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. In 2009 he began studying Mandarin at Columbia University, and has pursued this interest up to the present, spending the summer of 2011 studying in Beijing at Minzu University.  In 2009 he also scored new network ID’s for WNET 13, a public television station based in New York.

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John Haines-Eitzen — Artist Biography

Cellist John Haines-Eitzen was a member of The Philadelphia Orchestra from 1995 until 2005 when he joined the music faculty of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. His solo and chamber music appearances have taken him to cities in Japan, China, Brazil, and Italy, as well as the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, the Sarasota Music Festival in Florida, and numerous concert series throughout the United States. In addition to performing regularly with his colleagues at Cornell University where he is a Senior Lecturer and Artist-in-Residence, Mr. Haines-Eitzen has collaborated with renowned artists including pianists Yefim Bronfman, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Wolfgang Sawallisch, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Städe, violist Roberto Diaz, the Casals String Quartet, and principal musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has appeared as a guest artist at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia as part of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Chamber Music Series and at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall with The Vandermark Ensemble, of which he served as Artistic Director from 2003-2008. His chamber music performances have been featured on National Public Radio stations throughout the United States. Haines-Eitzen is a graduate of Indiana University where he was a student of Janos Starker. In reviews, his playing has been described as “romantically yearning” (Columbus Dispatch), “forceful and emotional” (Greensboro News and Record), and “with technical mastery and perceptive maturity” (Trent, Italy, Arts Review). A dedicated proponent of new music, he has collaborated with and premiered works by James Matheson, Victor Davies, Steven Stucky, Roberto Sierra, Zachary Wadsworth, Spencer Topel, Stuart Duncan, Diego Vega, Kay Rhie, Xi Wang, Norbert Palej, Chris Gendal, Steven Gorbos, along with numerous other award winning composers. Highlights of recent seasons include solo performances and masterclasses at the China Conservatory in Beijing, and a two CD Aramus release of the Bach Suites for Solo Cello (available in hard copy or digital download at Aramus.net, iTunes, or Amazon)

Aramus Releases: http://haines-eitzen.bandcamp.com
Personal Website: http://haines-eitzen.com

Matthew Bengtson — Artist Biography

Critically acclaimed as a “musician’s pianist,” Matthew Bengtson been presented in numerous concert festivals in Europe and in Mexico, and in solo recitals at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. He has appeared on NPR’s “Performance Today” and XM Satellite Radio’s “Classical Confidential” with noted violinist Joshua Bell. An advocate of both contemporary and rarely performed music, he commands a broad and diverse repertoire ranging from Byrd to Ligeti and numerous contemporary composers. His discography includes the complete mazurkas of Karol Szymanowski and a recording of six Scriabin sonatas, which The American Record Guide compared to legendary performances by Horowitz and Richter: “Has Scriabin ever been played better?” Mr. Bengtson is also an active performer on fortepiano and harpsichord, collaborating with sopranos Julianne Baird and Laurie Heimes, with Melomanie and the Aurelio Ensemble. He teaches at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges and at the University of Pennsylvania.

Aramus releases: http://Bengtson.bandcamp.com
Personal website: http://mattbengtson.com

…[Bengtson] is certainly an artist to watch … I have no qualms in recommending this CD to hear a new and interesting piano voice. … Bengtson is one of those pianists whose technique, though considerable, is not of the type that draws attention to itself, but to the music.
(.. Lynn René Bayley, in Fanfare 34:5, May/June 2011)

…It has been six years since ARG critic Lawrence Budmen wondered where this wonderful surprise of a pianist came from .. I’ll second that notion! … The rich multilayered sound to the Mendelssohn Variations … puts this account of Op. 54 over all the others I’ve ever heard, including Brendel’s.
(.. Brent Auerbach, in American Record Guide)

Bengtson is both analytical and creative, a winning combination for any pianist; the two sides of his brain seem to be perfectly balanced. … Bengtson is amazing.
(.. Susan L. Pena, Reading Times, May 14, 2006)

Bengtson is a remarkable artist. … Big-boned pianism, rich tonal colors, and dazzling technique are on display here. Has Scriabin ever been played better? Only Horowitz and Richter can compare to what Bengtson achieves on this disc.
(.. Lawrence Budmen, American Record Guide, July/August 2005 on Scriabin Sonatas recording, Romeo 7232)