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The Knights, Inon Barnatan & Teddy Abrams

WQXR Presents “19 for 19”: Artists to Watch in the Upcoming Year

By WQXR Staff

Contrary to the misguided and musty reputation often bestowed upon classical music, this art form is very much alive — and in the hands of many talented and creative musicians ushering it forward. That’s why WQXR is kicking off 2019 by introducing “19 for 19,” a group of artists we love that includes long-time heroes, established favorites and newcomers set for stardom. We’re planning all sorts of exciting collaborations across our platforms throughout the year, so stay tuned. Get to know them here, and if you haven’t yet heard what they can do, now’s the time.

Meet the line-up:

Teddy Abrams, conductor / composer / pianist
Triple-threat Teddy Abrams is often dubbed “the new Leonard Bernstein,” and in true Bernsteinian fashion, this gifted musician has transformed the classical scene in Louisville, Kentucky, where he is music director of the Louisville Orchestra. A tireless advocate for the transformational power of music, this Michael Tilson Thomas protégé also runs the Britt Festival in Jacksonville, Oregon, where some of his cooler initiatives include anointing “conducting” fellows (in which the likes of composer-in-residence Caroline Shaw will be instructed in the art of baton-wielding) and orchestral fellowships that give aspiring string players a much-needed stepping-stone into the industry. In his downtime — of which there can’t be much — Abrams also plays clarinet and leads the genre-blending Sixth Floor Trio.

Inon Barnatan, pianist
New York-based Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan is so admired by audiences and musicians alike that his fellow artists fall over themselves to collaborate with him — meaning his dance card is perpetually full. Musically speaking, what we love best of all about Barnatan is his sheer range. Not only does he slay the Romantic repertoire (he has been dubbed “a born Schubertian,” and he’s a Chopin, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff master as well), but he’s also fully at home performing more recent works. His reading of Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the Stars might just be definitive, and he’s a brilliant advocate for contemporary voices such as Thomas Adès and Matthias Pintscher. Having recently finished his term as the New York Philharmonic’s first-ever artist-in-residence, in 2019 Barnatan becomes music director of La Jolla Music Society Summerfest, and we can’t wait to see how he brings his musical intelligence, poetic sensibility and innate sense of fun to the proceedings. Barnatan performs live at The Greene Space for the launch of our “19 for 19” project on January 31.

The Knights
The creative brainchild of brothers Colin and Eric Jacobsen, The Knights emerged from a number of informal chamber music reading parties. Although the ensemble defies easy categorization, it might best be described as a collective that wants its performances to be as culturally relevant as they are technically sound. While based in Brooklyn (The Knights are artists-in-residence at BRIC), the ensemble collaborates with artists from beyond the borough, considers musical influences from across the globe and often presents the work of composers with a similar artistic outlook, building their own unique, borderless sound. Consider 2017’s album Azul, featuring Osvaldo Golijov’s composition of the same name as performed by the orchestra and Yo-Yo Ma, Caroline Shaw’s arrangement of Stockhausen and a bounty of interpretations of music by Sufjan Stevens. This year The Knights trek across Europe in a 13-city tour with Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital, and drop into Zankel Hall with Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh. Before that, you can witness the group’s electrifying brand of music-making live at The Greene Space on 31 January as part of our “19 for 19” launch event.

Read the full list.