The Townsend Center brings together a selection of eminent figures in the field of music to explore what we mean when we talk about virtuosity. Who earns the distinction of being called a virtuoso? Is it a fruitful or a limiting concept? What assumptions underlie its use, and how successfully does the idea of virtuosity travel across different genres and cultures?
Violist Kim Kashkashian has worked to broaden the range of technique and repertoire for the viola. She received a Grammy award for best classical instrumental solo album and the George Peabody Medal for outstanding contributions to music in America, and she is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As a soloist, she has appeared with the orchestras of Berlin, London, Vienna, Milan, New York, and Cleveland. She teaches at New England Conservatory.
John Santos is a central figure in the Afro-Latin jazz scene. A seven-time Grammy-nominated percussionist, he is a performer, composer, teacher and producer. He has served as resident artistic director of SFJAZZ and as a member of the Latin Jazz Advisory Committee of the Smithsonian Institution. He has performed and recorded with numerous artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Max Roach, and Arturo Sandoval.
Winner of the Rome and Berlin prizes, Associate Professor of Music Ken Ueno is a composer, vocalist, and sound artist. His compositions have been performed at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His artistic mission is to prompt audiences to reevaluate the musical potential of sounds that have been overlooked or discarded.
Ben Ratliff, this years Unas Lecturer, moderates. He was for 20 years a jazz and pop critic at the New York Times, and he is the author of four books, including Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty and Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. His articles have appeared in the New York Review of Books, Esquire, Slate, Rolling Stone, and elsewhere. He teaches cultural criticism at NYUs Gallatin School of Individualized Study.