Betsy Jolas – Bridge Between Worlds

A musical portrait of French-American composer Betsy Jolas, eight cellists join to perform her works featuring the cello. Cellists include Emmanuel Acurero, Andrew Briggs, Alexa Ciciretti, Eliott Leridon, Diana Ligeti, Fiona Robson, Polina Streltsova, and Mosa Tsay.

This concert is a culmination of my studies in Paris as a Fulbright-Harriet Hale Woolley grantee. Since arriving at Fondation des États-Unis in September, I have been studying works by Madame Betsy Jolas. My teacher Anssi Karttunen introduced me to her musical world, and just like learning a new language, it took me some time to understand how to interpret the notes printed on the sheet music.  We can glean a lot about composers based on how they notate ideas and music on paper. However, there are some ideas, memories, images, and quotes that are only known and noticed after someone points them out. This is the beauty of working directly with composers and their friends. By knowing the person behind the composition, I can approach the composition with already enlightened eyes and ears, rather than piecing together the composer’s personality and philosophy from the music. Madame Jolas carves a “bridge between worlds” for me with her music. This title was suggested by Diana Ligeti, who sparked my curiosity of the connection between the French language and music when I visited France to attend Fontainebleau in 2017. These three words also reflect how music itself is a bridge between cultures and languages.  Merci mille fois to Fulbright, FEU, Fontainebleau, and everyone who helped me to cross the bridge to come to Paris for an unforgettable year.” – Mosa Tsay

This concert is a co-production of the Fontainebleau Schools of Music and Fine Arts and the Fondation des États-Unis, in partnership with the École Normale de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot, the Château de Fontainebleau, the Maurice Ravel Foundation and the Franco-American Fulbright Commission.


Betsy Jolas (1926 – )
Scion (1973)
Mosa Tsay, cello

Épisode cinquième (1983)
Alexa Ciciretti, cello

Quatre pièces en marge (1983)
Alexa Ciciretti, cello
Edo Frenkel, piano

Austin Simonds (1996 – )
Still (2020)
Thomas Briant, violin Antonin Lefaure, viola Diana Ligeti, cello Sebastien Vichard, piano

Betsy Jolas
Femme le soir (2018)
Mosa Tsay, cello Daniel Schreiner, piano

Sonate à 8 (1998)
Emmanuel Acurero, Andrew Briggs, Alexa Ciciretti, Eliott Leridon, Diana Ligeti, Fiona Robson, Polina Streltsova, Mosa Tsay, cellists, conducted by Edo Frenkel
© 1998 by Gérard Billaudot Editeur. Avec l’autorisation de Gérard Billaudot Editeur.

Still by Austin Simonds (University of Chicago, prizewinner of 2019 Ravel composition competition at Fontainebleau) is the world premiere of a piano quartet commissioned by the Fontainebleau Schools of Music and Fine Arts and the Maurice Ravel Foundation.

Les compositeurs

Betsy Jolas studied with Darius Milhaud and Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory in 1946; she was then appointed professor of music theory (1975) and composition (1978). She also taught at several American universities including Yale, Harvard and Berkeley. She was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1995) and has received numerous awards both in France and abroad. An independent figure, she refuses to break away from the past and claims the heritage of composers such as Monteverdi, Debussy and Schumann. The vocality that is at the heart of all her work, both vocal and instrumental, imbues her music with a declamatory and poetic expression of its own. Among her works are Quatuor II (1964), D’un opéra de voyage (1967), Le pavillon au bord de la rivière (1975), Caprice à une voix (1975), Tales of a summer sea (1977), D’un opéra de poupée en sept musiques (1982), Le cyclope (1986), Frauenleben (1992), Schliemann (créé à l’Opéra de Lyon en 1993), Lumor (1996), L’ascension du Mont Ventoux (2004), B Day (2006), Femme en son jardin (2010).

Austin D. Simonds is a Texas-based pianist, composer, and educator whose work has been described as “passionate, beautiful, and memorable” (Award-winning composer Claudia Howard Queen). His composition studies have included lessons under Ermir Bejo, Kirsten Broberg, Andrew May, as well as Sungji Hong. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition and Music Theory from the University of North Texas as well as a master of Arts in Composition from the University of Chicago where he studied under Augusta Read Thomas. Much of his work deals with repetition, idiosyncratic gestures, lyricism, texture manipulation, and often contains a narrative or programmatic element. His work for solo piano, Aurora Winter, was selected for the Keyboard in the 21st Century International Conference for Composers, where the composer premiered the work himself. In addition, his piece, Luxuria for piano quintet, was notably selected as the 1st prizewinner of the Prix de Composition Maurice Ravel. He is also a founding member, and active board member of the new art collective Eclective, a group of artists dedicated to the curation, promotion, and performance of new art.

The musicians

Emmanuel Acurero began his cello studies at the age of 8 with Asdrubal Castilla in his hometown. 5 years later he continued studying with William Molina Cestari (former director of the Latin American Cello Academy in Venezuela) before being admitted to the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris at the age of 17. There, he continued his studies with Phillipe Muller and then with Raphael Pidoux. Acurero has performed as a soloist with several orchestras in Venezuela, among them the Simon Bolivar Orchestra and the Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, and has shared the stage with many conductors such as the renowned Gustavo Dudamel, Irwin Hoffman, Christian Vasquez and Theodore Kuchard. He performs both solo and chamber music, and has participated several times in the academy of the Lucerne Festival. Influenced by modern music, he often performs in compositions featuring electronics. In October 2018 he was admitted to the prestigious program “Diplôme d’Artiste Interprète” (Performing Artist diploma) for contemporary music at the CNSMDP. He is currently pursuing his final year in this program.

Born in 2001, Thomas Briant began playing the violin at the Toulon Conservatory where he obtained his Diploma of Musical Studies. In 2018, he was unanimously admitted to the CNSMD of Paris in the class of S.M. Degand. In 2019, he was invited as an academic to the Festival of The Fontainebleau Schools of Music and Fine Arts and at the Festival des Forêts in Compiègne. He played as a soloist in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Toulon Opera Orchestra in 2018. He was unanimously awarded the 1st Prize with the congratulations of the jury at the Vatelot Rampal Competition and the Special Prize for Music and Sharing at the Marie Cantagrill Competition. Passionate about chamber music, he follows the teachings of C. Désert, A. Flammer, M. Michalakakos and participates in master classes with the Ebène Quartet, S. Ashkenasi and K. Sawa.

Praised as « an artist with an already expanding reputation and great future » (The Well-Tempered Ear); cellist Andrew Briggs is a world traveler. Recent performances include recitals in Bergen, Netherlands and Narbonne, France; collaborations with the principal cellist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Amsterdam, NL); recital performances in Paul Hall, NYC; with Axiom Contemporary Ensemble in Alice Tully Hall, NYC; and concerto appearances in Wisconsin and Colorado. Last season, Andrew was a member of the Colorado Symphony cello section, principal cellist of the Crested Butte Music Festival, and guest artist on recital series in Chicago, New York City, and Denver. Completing his Masters Degree at The Juilliard School, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin with his doctoral project, « Piatti and the Body: An Integrative Approach to Learning the 12 Caprices, Op. 25 », on Youtube. Currently Andrew resides at the Cité des Arts in Paris, France and is a Harriet Hale Woolley and Fondation des États-Unis alumnus (2018-2019). He is the new cellist of Ensemble Kimya, and associate artist of the Terres Vibrantes Music Festival in Auvergne, France.

Cellist Alexa Ciciretti has established herself as a performer who is equally at home playing Baroque viola da gamba music, Romantic symphonies, cutting-edge contemporary music and everything in between. She performed as a guest artist at the Ojai Festival in 2019 and has participated in several European tours with the Lucerne Festival Academy and Alumni Orchestras.  As a former fellow of the New World Symphony, she served as principal for their 2019 tour to Carnegie Hall. She is also a former member of the Rochester Philharmonic and served as continuo cellist for the U.S. premiere of Vivaldi’s Farnace at Spoleto Festival U.S.A. She recently starred in the short film, A Waning Heart, which was screened at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Ms. Ciciretti studied at Eastman School of Music and Oberlin Conservatory and currently lives in Paris, freelancing and pursuing post-graduate studies with Anssi Karttunen.

Edo Frenkel is a “feisty” (LA Times) young conductor, composer, and pianist, quickly gaining attention for his “performances of both intimacy and intensity” (Opera Magazine). He has guest conducted LUDWIG, Baltimore Symphony Musicians, Ensemble Meitar, Ensemble Mise-en and appeared in performances with Tonkünstler Orchester-Niederösterreich, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Charleston Symphony, members of New World Symphony, and Ensemble Moderne Akademie. He has performed in Aldeburgh and Lucerne Festivals and was a featured Festival Artist at the 2019 Ojai Festival. In July 2021, Dr. Frenkel will participate as an assistant conductor at the Verbier Festival. Beginning in September 2020, he will serve as the JPYAP Assistant Conductor of the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Dr. Frenkel has worked as assistant conductor to Sir Simon Rattle, Brad Lubman, Franck Ollu, and Barbara Hannigan. In addition to working as Hannigan’s assistant, he served as répétiteur, coach, and keyboard player for the LUDWIG European/US tour which included performances at the Paris Philharmonie, Royal Concertgebouw, and Hamburg Elbphilharmonie. As a keyboard player, Dr. Frenkel also served as Hannigan’s rehearsal pianist on the Satie: Socrate project at the Ruhrtriennale Festival and at the Park Ave Armory in New York City. He performed in the Philadelphia Orchestra’s SoundLAB as part of the Barnes/Stokowski Festival. At home in both notated and improvised music, Dr. Frenkel performs regularly in concerts involving creative music making. Additionally, he has performed with Jazz greats Peter Erskine and Randy Brecker. His music has been performed in international festivals by artists such as Talea Ensemble, EXAUDI vocal ensemble, JACK quartet, Tonküntsler-Orchester Niederösterreich, and Ensemble Paramirabo. His music has been performed in the US, Canada, Japan, and in Europe. He has been featured in such festivals as Royaumont Voix Nouvelles (France), CEME (Israel), and the ME_MMIX Festival (Spain). His most recent commissions include a work for pianist Yu-Ting Huang and the Concours International de Piano de Porte d’Orleans and a large ensemble work for Ensemble x.y. (UK) as part of their Zeitgeist Online Gallery. In October 2020 Dr. Frenkel will begin a residency at Cité Internationale des Arts to compose and perform a concert length work for cello and piano.

Born in 1995, Antonin Le Faure began playing the viola at the age of seven. He continued his studies at the CNSM in Paris in the class of Pierre-Henri Xuereb and Jean Sulem. He performed at the Messiaen Festival of La Meije, at the “Soirées Romantiques” Festival of Domaine du Rayol and was laureate in residence at the Encuentro Festival of Santander (Spain) in 2018 with Nobuko Imai and in 2019 with Miguel Da Silva. He is a regular resident of the Calenzana Festival in Corsica. Proud defender of the viola, especially in the contemporary repertoire, which he became passionate about at a very early age, he has had the opportunity to train in contact with and under the direction of many composers such as Kaija Saariaho, Olga Neuwirth, Klaus Huber, Philippe Hersant, Helmut Lachenmann and is invited to the Lucerne Festival Academy from 2014 to 2016 created by Pierre Boulez where he collaborated with the Ensemble Intercontemporain and conductors Sir Simon Rattle, Matthias Pintscher, Alan Gilbert, Susanna Mälkki, Pablo Heras-Casado. Recognized as one of today’s talents, he received the 1st prize for Young Soloists of the Sorbonne and is laureate in residence at the American Conservatory of Fontainebleau where he won a prize at the Maurice Ravel Foundation Competition. Laureate of the Meyer Foundation as well as the Berthier Scholarship from the Association des Membres dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, he won the Grand Prix CIC-Michel Lucas and will make his debut next year at the Easter Festival in Aix en Provence. Curious and eager to search for new sound palettes and new universes linking music to other arts, Antonin improvises within several collectives and also plays the viola d’amore as well as the baroque viola.
 More recently, he performed the French premiere of the viola concerto Libro d’Estate by Giovanni Bertelli under the direction of Simon Proust.

Eliott Leridon began playing the cello at the age of seven at the Conservatoire de Corbeil-Essonnes. At the age of eleven, he began studying with Annie Cochet-Zakine. His work with her would later become a determining factor in his further studies. He then entered the Paris Regional Conservatory in Thomas Duran’s class. He went on to win the 1st Prize unanimously awarded with the congratulations of the jury. During this time he also studied music theory with Françoise Levéchin-Gangloff, until he was unanimously admitted to the Paris Conservatory where he continued his cello studies under Raphaël Pidoux. Among his most recent prizes: 2nd prize at the Vienna Competition, 1st prize at the Flame Competition, finalist and “coup de coeur” at the Cello Competition in Seine, 1st prize and prizewinner several times at the Vatelot-Rampal Competition in different categories. He regularly participates in masterclasses with great cello masters such as Raphaël Pidoux, Gary Hoffman and Henri Demarquette. Together with his colleagues Thomas Briant on violin and Théotime Gillot they have recently formed the Zarathoustra trio. Leridon plays a cello from the “Vuillaume” school, generously lent by the “Talents & Violoncelles” non-profit.

Following musical studies in Romania, cellist Diana Ligeti entered the Paris Conservatoire post-graduate program. She soon attracted the attention of Lord Yehudi Menuhin, and attended the International Menuhin Music Academy in Gstaad (Switzerland). Ms. Ligeti also holds a Master’s degree in Musicology from the Sorbonne Paris University. Winner of many competitions in her native Romania, Ms. Ligeti was a finalist in the prestigious Munich Competition in 1992, and won First Grand Prize at the Douai International Cello Competition the same year. In 1996, as a member of the Ligeti String Trio, she won First Prize at the International Chamber Music Competition in Osaka (Japan). Since then, Diana Ligeti has performed as a soloist and chamber musician around the world. She has recorded for Arion, Leman Classics, the Japan Chamber Music Foundation, Warner, Polymnies and others. Her two most recent CDs with the Ensemble “Musique Oblique” were rated with highest honors by the French press. Diana Ligeti is invited for master classes in Europe, Japan and Brazil. She is a regular member of the trio “George Sand,” the “Calliopée” chamber ensemble, and holds the solo-cello position of the recently created Open Chamber Orchestra. In addition to her performance activities, Diana Ligeti teaches at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris, at the American Art schools in Fontainebleau and at the Rueil-Malmaison Conservatoire à rayonnement regional. She plays a modern cello made by David Ayache (Montpellier, 2001) and bows by Pierre Grunberger, (Paris, 2010) and Emmanuel Begin (Montreal 2017). In 2018, Diana Ligeti became the artistic director of the Fontainebleau American art schools, the first woman to succeed the famous Nadia Boulanger.

Canadian cellist Fiona Robson is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in cello performance at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, in the class of Marc Coppey. Previously she studied with Matt Haimovitz at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music, and she performed in Haimovitz’s Grammy-nominated cello ensemble Uccello in Toronto, Montreal, New York City and Berlin, including a collaboration with author Cornelia Funke. Particularly enamored with string quartet playing, she was a founding member of the Lafontaine String Quartet, with whom she won the 2018 McGill University chamber music competition, was a semi-finalist of the 2019 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and worked with members of the Alban Berg, Ébène, Artemis, and Tàkacs quartets. She has performed as a soloist with orchestras in Ontario, Canada, and in 2018 she commissioned an original piano reduction for Philip Glass’ Cello Concerto No. 1, which she performed for Philip Glass at Scotia Festival of Music. Committed to music outreach and teaching, Fiona has performed and organized workshops at schools in Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia and remote communities in the Northwest Territories.

A musician, composer, and interdisciplinary artist of diverse interests, Daniel Schreiner is continuing to fashion an eclectic career. Recent collaborative engagements include concerts with members of the JACK Quartet at New Music on the Point in Vermont; joint recitals of Debussy and Ligeti Etudes with Shuhui Zhou in New York and at Bard College; and performances as guest alumnus at Williams College’s Iota Festival of New Music. Daniel is a founding member of KnoxTrio, a newly-formed flute, cello, and piano trio dedicated to experimental contemporary repertoire, whose successful first season commissioned three world premieres by living composers responding to the environment and climate change. A recipient of the Harriet Hale Woolley Scholarship from the Fondation des États-Unis, Daniel currently lives in Paris, France, studying at La Schola Cantorum with Billy Eidi.

Born into a family of musicians, Polina Streltsova grew up inside the inspiring atmosphere of the Bolshoi theater in Moscow where her parents are both artists. After finishing Moscow State Conservatory, she continued her studies with Jérôme Pernoo at the CNSM of Paris. In 2018 she obtained her Master’s degree diploma and entered the post-graduate program Diplôme d’Artiste at the CNSM of Paris, where she works with Emmanuelle Bertrand. In the season 2018-2019, Polina was a part of Philippe Jaroussky Academy for young soloists. Polina is supported by Fondation Safran pour la musique, Fondation Meyer and Mécénat Musical Société Générale. Her stage partners include Philippe Jaroussky, Michel Beroff, François Chaplin, Ludmila Berlinskaya, Sonia Wieder-Atherton, Maude Lovett, and Pascal Moraguez. Polina has participated in numerous international festivals and academies, such as Kronberg Academy Masterclasses, Amsterdamse Cello Biënnale, Encuentro de Santander, and Rutesheim Cello Academy. She has performed on international stages in France, Germany, Poland, Greece and Spain. In 2019, she created a musical-dramatical show called “Errance” which premiered at the CNSMDP. Recent projects include a cross-over project, co-produced by the Opéra Comique and the Centre Pompidou with Christian Boltanski. Polina plays a Claude Pierray 1724 cello, generously on loan from Madame Catherine Deleplaire.

Cellist Mosa Tsay is a recipient of the 2019-20 Fulbright and Harriet Hale Woolley Scholarship. Mosa is currently studying with Anssi Karttunen in Paris, focusing on contemporary works for cello by Betsy Jolas, Kaija Saariaho, and Pascal Dusapin. In New York, she performs with Wavefield Ensemble and has been a frequent collaborator with International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). She has worked with over 30 composers in performances with AXIOM, New Juilliard Ensemble, and Eco Ensemble. Notable performances include Schelomo and Schumann Cello Concerto with UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra tour to Stockholm and Helsinki with Esa-Pekka Salonen, Carnegie Hall with Juilliard Orchestra, and Mendelssohn Octet with Danish String Quartet. Mosa is a founder of Versoi Ensemble, a Finnish and American “cultural exchange through chamber music,” which debuted in New York in 2018 and was the first classical ensemble to perform at Kyrö Distillery in Finland. Mosa received her Master of Music from The Juilliard School. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Music and in Society and Environment from University of California, Berkeley.

Born in 1979, Sébastien Vichard studied piano and pianoforte at the Paris Conservatory (CNSMDP). Pianist with the Ensemble intercontemporain since 2006, he has collaborated with many composers: Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Pascal Dusapin, Beat Furrer, Philippe Manoury, Marco Stroppa, Eliott Carter, Philippe Schoeller, Elliott Carter, Philippe Hurel, to name but a few. Sébastien Vichard regularly performs as a soloist on major international stages (Philharmonie de Paris, Royal Festival Hall in London, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Suginami Kôkaidô in Tokyo, etc.). He has inherited a passion for teaching from all his professors (Alain Martin, Sylvaine Billier, Denis Pascal, Jean Koerner, Patrick Cohen), and he regularly gives classes at the National Conservatories of Paris and Lyon.


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