St. Cecilia Music Center Reveals Beautiful Building Renovation on November 10th during 2016 / 2017 Season Debut

St. Cecilia Music Center proudly presents an intimate evening of classical music on November 10, 2016, performed by Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center artists. The debut concert for the CMS of Lincoln Center Series for the 2016/2017 season is especially important as it will showcase St. Cecilia Music Center’s newly renovated building.

Executive Director Cathy Holbrook states, This concert will showcase our “world class performance hall” with world class musicians performing in a newly renovated setting. Concert goers will experience an intimate evening with the comfort of brand new seating to watch and listen to a great performance. The sound will be breathtaking and the audience will love our visual transformation of the hall, lobby, ballroom and entire facility.” 

Chamber music artists performing on November 10th will include Artistic Director of CMS of Lincoln Center and premiere cellist David Finckel and world class string musicians, violinists Sean Lee and Alexander Sitkovetsky; violists Matthew Lipman and Richard O’Neill and cellist Keith Robinson.  

The evening will include the works of Mozart, Schoenberg and Brahms and is entitled, “Destination Vienna”.  The audience will be transformed to the 18th and 19th century when Mozart, Schoenberg and Brahms composed their treasured works. The program will include:

Mozart              Quintet in C minor for Two Violins, Two Violas and Cello, K. 40

Schoenberg     Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) for Two Violins, Two Violas and Two Cellos, Op. 4

Brahms            Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major for Two Violins, Two Violas and Two Cellos, Op. 18

Concert tickets are $38 and $43 and can be purchased by calling St. Cecilia Music Center at 616-459-2224 or visiting the box office at 24 Ransom Ave. NE. Tickets can also be purchased online at

Other highlights of the evening will be:

  • A pre-concert wine and hors d’oeurves reception from 6:00 – 7:00 pm in the 2nd floor newly renovated Ballroom for $15;
  • A pre-concert artist talk. Musicians performing that evening will take part in a question and answer session moderated by Grand Rapids Symphony President Peter Kjome in Royce Auditorium from 7 – 7:30 pm preceding the concert; and
  • complimentary post-concert wine, coffee and dessert reception for the audience to meet the six artists and obtain signed CDs of their releases

Two additional concerts by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will complete the series this season.

January 26, 2017The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center series will feature works by Faure and Brahms. CMS artists for this program will include pianist Alessio Bax, violinists Ani Kavafian and Yura Lee and cellist Paul Watkins. 

Brahms            Scherzo, WoO 2, from “F-A-E” Sonata for Violin and Piano

Fauré               Quartet No. 2 in G minor for Piano, Violin, Viola and Cello. Op 45

Brahms            Quartet No. 2 in A Major for Piano, Violin, Viola and Cello, Op. 26

March 16, 2017 will close the CMS series with a program entitled “French Virtuosity” featuring co-artistic director and pianist Wu Han, performing with colleagues Kristin Lee, Yura Lee and Arnaud Sussman, violin; Richard O’Neill, viola and Nicholas Canellakis, cello.  “French Virtuosity” will include: 

Leclair             Concerto in E minor for Violin, String Quartet and Continuo, Op. 10, No. 5

Françaix           Trio for Violin, Viola and Cello

Ravel               Tzigane, rapsodie de concert for Violin and Piano

Chausson        Concerto in D Major for Violin, Piano and String Quartet, Op. 21

For more information about the performing artists and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center see

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Series

In 2015, SCMC renewed a three-year contract with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and is thrilled to continue its collaboration with CMS’s artistic directors, David Finckel and Wu Han, who were named “Musicians of the Year” by Musical America in 2012. Finckel and Wu Han became the artistic directors of St. Cecilia’s chamber music series in 2012, and since that time, have brought the exquisite performances of CMS of Lincoln Center to Grand Rapids. These concerts feature the best chamber musicians in the world in dynamic and beautifully performed programs that can be heard in St. Cecilia’s Royce Auditorium and at Lincoln Center in New York City. This is a unique partnership and a wonderful testament to St. Cecilia Music Center’s acoustically superb Royce Auditorium and to Grand Rapids as a cultural destination for artists from around the world.

Destination Vienna Concert Notes:

Quintet in C minor for Two Violins, Two Violas, and Cello, K. 406

The year 1786 was the zenith of Mozart’s career in Vienna. Perhaps because of intrigue but more probably because the geometrical expansion of deep expression in his newest music did not suit the fickle taste of the Viennese, his local popularity began to wane thereafter. Though he tried to economize by moving from his spacious apartment in the Schullerstrasse (now a Mozart museum, just behind the Stephansdom, known as the “Figaro House”) to a smaller flat at 224 Landstrasse, he could not abandon his taste for fine clothes and elegant entertaining, and took on debts, several of which were to the textile merchant Michael Puchberg, a fellow Mason. On April 2, 1787, an announcement signed by Mozart appeared in the Wiener Zeitung stating that he was offering for sale by subscription three new string quintets, “finely and correctly written,” which would be available at Puchberg’s establishment in the Hohe Markt after July 1st. The intention was apparently that Puchberg would keep the proceeds to repay a debt. To create the promised trio of works (18th-century publishing practice required that instrumental works usually be issued in sets of three, six, or twelve), Mozart created anew the Quintets in C major (K. 515) and G minor (K. 516), and arranged the magnificent Wind Octet in C minor of 1782 (K. 388) for five strings (K. 406, corrected to K. 516b in Einstein’s revisions of Köchel’s catalog).

Verklärte Nacht for Two Violins, Two Violas, and Two Cellos, Op. 4

During the summer of 1899, Schoenberg was on holiday in the mountain village of Payerbach, south of Vienna, and it was there that he began a work for string sextet based on a poem by Richard Dehmel: Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), which had appeared three years earlier in a collection called Weib und die Welt (Woman and the World). Dehmel was one of the most distinguished German poets of the day, whose verses bridged the sensuous Impressionism of the preceding generation and the intense spirituality of encroaching Expressionism. Verklärte Nacht matches well the Viennese fin-de-siècle temperament, when Sigmund Freud was intellectualizing sex with his systematic explorations into the subconscious and Gustav Klimt was painting full-length portraits of his female subjects as he imagined they would look totally nude before applying layers of elaborate, gold-sparkled costumes to finish the canvas. Schoenberg had already acquired a reputation as an unrepentant modernist, and the audience insisted on being put off by the music’s ripe harmony and the lubricity of its subject. The Hungarian violinist Francis Aranyi reported that the premiere [Verklärte Nacht] was greeted “with much blowing of whistles, heaving of rotten eggs, etc.,” but that Rosé valiantly took his bows at the end “just as all hell broke loose.” Over a number of years, however, Verklärte Nacht came to be viewed not as an avant-garde aberration but as one of the foremost creations of the Post-Romantic era. 

Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major for Two Violins, Two Violas and Two Cellos, Op. 18

After losing his beloved friend, mentor and a woman that he had strong personal feelings for, Brahms immersed himself in beauty of nature and his music. He wrote in a letter to his aunt, “I am quite ecstatic: I think of nothing but music and of other things only when they make music more beautiful to me. If things go on like this, I am perfectly capable of evaporating into a musical chord and floating away in the air.” It was under this spell that Brahms created his first chamber work for string ensemble, the Sextet in B-flat major.

Artist Bios

David Finckel

Co-artistic director of the Chamber Music Society, cellist David Finckel was named Musical America’s 2012 Musician of the Year, one of the highest honors granted to musicians from the music industry in the US. He leads a multifaceted career as a concert performer, recording artist, educator, administrator, and cultural entrepreneur that places him in the ranks of today’s most influential classical musicians. He has been hailed as “one of the top ten, if not top five, cellists in the world today” (Nordwest Zeitung, Germany). As a chamber musician, he appears extensively with duo partner pianist Wu Han and in a piano trio alongside violinist Philip Setzer. David Finckel served as cellist of the nine-time Grammy Award-winning Emerson String Quartet for 34 seasons. In 1997 David Finckel and Wu Han launched ArtistLed, classical music’s first musician-directed and Internet-based recording company, whose 17-album catalogue has won widespread critical praise. Along with Wu Han, he is the founder and artistic director of Music@Menlo, Silicon Valley’s acclaimed chamber music festival and institute, artistic director for Chamber Music Today in Korea, and in 2013, inaugurated a chamber music workshop at Aspen Music Festival and School. Under the auspices of the CMS, David Finckel and Wu Han lead the LG Chamber Music School. The first American student of Rostropovich, David Finckel serves on the faculty at The Juilliard School and Stony Brook University. Piano Quartets, a 2015 Deutsche Grammophon release recorded live at Alice Tully Hall, features David Finckel, Wu Han, Daniel Hope, and Paul Neubauer performing the piano quartets of Brahms, Schumann, and Mahler.

Sean Lee

With performances described by the New York Times as “breathtakingly beautiful,” violinist Sean Lee is quickly gaining recognition as one of today’s most talented rising artists. His debut album featuring the Strauss Violin Sonata was released by EMI Classics and reached the Top 20 of the iTunes “Top Classical Albums” list. Having received prizes in the Premio Paganini International Violin Competition and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, he has appeared as a soloist with the Jerusalem Symphony, Utah Symphony, Orchestra Del Teatro Carlo Felice, Westchester Symphony, Peninsula Symphony, and the Juilliard Orchestra. As a recitalist, he has performed at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium, Festival di Carro Paganiniano, and Wiener Konzerthaus. A former member of Chamber Music Society Two, he has performed with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at Alice Tully Hall, as well as on tour at the LG Arts Center in Seoul, Korea, the St. Cecilia Music Center, and the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park. Mr. Lee currently teaches chamber music at the Pre-College Division of The Juilliard School, and joined the violin faculty of the Perlman Music Program in 2010. He performs on a violin originally made in 1999 for violinist Ruggiero Ricci, by David Bague.

Keith Robinson

Cellist Keith Robinson is a founding member of the Miami String Quartet and has been active as a chamber musician, recitalist, and soloist since his graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music. He has had numerous solo appearances with orchestras including the New World Symphony, The American Sinfonietta, and the Miami Chamber Symphony, and in 1989 won the P.A.C.E. “Classical Artist of the Year” Award. His most recent recording released on Blue Griffin Records features the complete works of Mendelssohn for cello and piano with his colleague Donna Lee. In 1992, the Miami String Quartet became the first string quartet in a decade to win First Prize of the Concert Artists Guild New York Competition. The quartet has also received the prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award, won the Grand Prize at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, and was a member of Chamber Music Society Two. Mr. Robinson regularly attends festivals across the United States, including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Kent Blossom Music, Mostly Mozart, Bravo! Vail, Savannah Music Festival, and the Virginia Arts Festival. Highlights of recent seasons include international appearances in Bern, Cologne, Istanbul, Lausanne, Montreal, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Paris. Mr. Robinson hails from a musical family and his siblings include Sharon Robinson of the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, and Hal Robinson, principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He plays a cello made by Carlo Tononi in Venice in 1725.

Richard O’Neill

Violist Richard O’Neill is an Emmy Award winner, two-time Grammy nominee, and Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient. He has appeared as soloist with the London, Los Angeles, Seoul, and Euro-Asian Philharmonics; the BBC, KBS, and Korean Symphonies; the Moscow, Vienna, and Württemburg Chamber Orchestras; and Alte Musik Köln with conductors Andrew Davis, Vladimir Jurowski, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Highlights of this season include collaborations with Gidon Kremer, concertos with Kremerata Baltica, his first tour to China with Ensemble DITTO and a European tour and complete Beethoven quartet cycle with the Ehnes Quartet. As recitalist he has performed at Carnegie, Avery Fisher, Kennedy Center, Wigmore, Louvre, Salle Cortot, Madrid’s National Concert Hall, Tokyo’s International Forum and Opera City, Osaka Symphony Hall, and Seoul Arts Center. A Universal/DG recording artist, he has made eight solo albums that have sold more than 150,000 copies. Dedicated to the music of our time, he has premiered works composed for him by Elliott Carter, John Harbison, Huang Ruo, and Paul Chihara. In his tenth season as artistic director of DITTO he has introduced tens of thousands to chamber music in South Korea and Japan. The first violist to receive the artist diploma from Juilliard, he was honored with a Proclamation from the New York City Council for his achievement and contribution to the arts. He serves as Goodwill Ambassador for the Korean Red Cross, The Special Olympics, and UNICEF; runs marathons for charity; and teaches at UCLA. He is a former member of CMS Two.

Alexander Sitkovetsky 

Violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky has performed with the Netherlands Philharmonic, London’s Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony, Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin, Brussels Philharmonic, the European Union Chamber Orchestra, and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. This season he makes debuts in Brussels and Poznan, Poland as well as in Bolivia, and is going on two nationwide tours of the UK with the Brussels Philharmonic and St. Petersburg Symphony. He also debuts with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Glasgow. He tours Australia with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and performs with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall. His new recording for the CPO label of Andrzej Panufnik’s Violin Concerto has been critically acclaimed and won the 2015 ICMA Special Achievement Award. As a chamber musician, he received first prize at the Trio di Trieste Duo Competition in 2011 with pianist Wu Qian. He is also a founding member of the Sitkovetsky Piano Trio and since 2012 he has played in a string quartet project with Julia Fischer. Born in Moscow, Mr. Sitkovetsky made his concerto debut at the age of eight and in the same year started to study at the Menuhin School. He performed with Lord Menuhin on several occasions with works including the Bach Double Concerto, Bartók Duos at St James’ Palace, and the Mendelssohn concerto under Menuhin’s baton. He is a former member of Chamber Music Society Two.

Matthew Lipman 

The recipient of a prestigious 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, violist Matthew Lipman has been hailed by the New York Times for his “rich tone and elegant phrasing” and by the Chicago Tribune for his “splendid technique and musical sensitivity.” His debut recording of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with violinist Rachel Barton Pine and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields with Sir Neville Marriner was released last year on the Avie label and reached No. 2 on the Billboard classical charts. This season he will debut with the Minnesota Orchestra and Illinois Philharmonic, and he has performed concertos with the Grand Rapids Symphony, Wisconsin Chamber, Juilliard, Ars Viva Symphony, and Montgomery Symphony orchestras and recitals at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, and the South Orange Performing Arts Center in New Jersey. The only violist featured on WFMT Chicago’s list of 30 Under 30 top classical musicians, he has been profiled by The Strad and BBC Music magazines. He is a member of CMS Two and was a top prizewinner of the Tertis, Primrose, Washington, and Stulberg International competitions. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees as an inaugural Kovner fellow from The Juilliard School, where he continues to serve as teaching assistant to Heidi Castleman, and he has also studied with Misha Amory, Steven Tenenbom, and Roland Vamos. A native of Chicago, Mr. Lipman performs on a fine 1700 Matteo Goffriller viola loaned through the generous efforts of the RBP Foundation.