Scriabin Centenary: Speakers and Performers

Matthew Bengtson

Critically acclaimed as a “musician’s pianist,” Matthew Bengtson has a unique combination of musical talents ranging from pianist, harpsichordist, and fortepianist to analyst and composer. An advocate of both contemporary and rarely-heard music, he performs an unusually diverse repertoire, ranging from Byrd to Ligeti. He has recorded for the Roméo, Arabesque, Griffin Renaissance, Albany, Musica Omnia, and Navona labels. In the 100th anniversary of the death of Scriabin, he is presenting numerous all-Scriabin recitals including a multi-sensory celebration “Scriabin in the Himalayas” in Ladakh, India. On his recording of the complete Scriabin sonatas, the American Record Guide writes: “Only Horowitz and Richter can compare to what Bengtson achieves on this disc. Has Scriabin ever been played better?” He is also considered by Fanfare magazine “a Scriabinist for the twenty-first century . . . upon whom future generations can rely for definitive interpretations.” Bengtson is a graduate of Harvard University in computer science and of Peabody Conservatory in piano performance. His teachers include Patricia Zander, Ann Schein, Webb Wiggins, Robert Levin, and Malcolm Bilson. For more information, please visit

Xak Bjerken

Pianist Xak Bjerken has appeared with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, and members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Disney Hall. He has performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and Konzerthaus in Berlin as well as at Alice Tully Hall, Weill Hall, and the Kennedy Center. For many years, he has performed nationally as a member of the Los Angeles Piano Quartet and is the director of Ensemble X, a new music ensemble. He has held chamber music residencies at the Tanglewood Music Center, Spoleto Festival, and Olympic Music Festival and served on the faculty of the Eastern Music Festival, Kneisel Hall, and at the Chamber Music Conference at Bennington College. He released his first solo recording on CRI in 2001 and has since recorded for Koch International, Chandos, Albany Records, Artona, and Open G Records. Bjerken is Professor of Music at Cornell University where, with his wife, Miri Yampolsky, he co-directs Mayfest, an international chamber music festival. Bjerken studied with Aube Tzerko at the University of California at Los Angeles and received his master’s and doctoral degrees from the Peabody Institute as a student of and teaching assistant to Leon Fleisher.

Read Gainsford

A native of New Zealand, Read Gainsford began full-time music study with top piano teachers, Janetta MacStay and Bryan Sayer, before receiving a grant from the Woolf Fisher Trust and the top prize in the Television New Zealand Young Musician of the Year. He then relocated to London, where he studied privately with Brigitte Wild, a protégée of Claudio Arrau, before winning a place in the Advanced Solo Studies course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he studied with Joan Havill, graduating with the prestigious Concert Recital Diploma (premier prix). Gainsford has performed widely in the USA, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa as solo recitalist, concerto soloist, and chamber musician. He has made successful solo debuts at the Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and has performed in many other venues, including the Kennedy Center, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Barbican Centre, Fairfield Halls, Birmingham Town Hall, and St-Martin-in-the-Fields. He has recorded for the Amoris label, BBC Radio Three, Radio New Zealand’s Concert Programme, and has broadcast on national television in New Zealand, the UK, and Yugoslavia. Gainsford moved to the United States in 1992 to enter the doctoral program at Indiana University, where he worked with Karen Shaw and Leonard Hokanson. Since that time he has been guest artist for the American Music Teachers Association and has also given numerous recitals, concerto performances, and master classes. He has appeared at the Gilmore Keyboard Festival and the Music Festival of the Hamptons, spent several summers at the Heifetz International Music Institute, is a member of the contemporary music group Ensemble X, and the Garth Newel Chamber Players. Gainsford has also enjoyed working with such musicians as Jacques Zoon, William Vermuelen, Roberto Diaz, Eddie van Oosthuyse, and Luis Rossi. Formerly on the faculty of Ithaca College, where he received the college-wide Excellence in Teaching Award in 2004, Gainsford joined the piano faculty at Florida State University in 2005.

Stanislav Ioudenitch

Pianist Stanislav Ioudenitch is widely regarded for his strong individuality and musical conviction. His artistry won him the Gold Medal at the 11th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, where he also took home the Steven De Groote Memorial Award for Best Performance of Chamber Music. Born in 1971 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Ioudenitch has netted prizes at the Busoni, Kapell, Maria Callas, New Orleans competitions, among others. A former student of Dmitri Bashkirov, he also studied with Leon Fleisher, Murray Perahia, Karl Ulrich Schnabel, William Grant Naboré, and Rosalyn Tureck at the International Piano Foundation in Como, Italy (the current International Piano Academy Lake Como). He subsequently became the youngest teacher ever invited to give master classes at the Academy. Ioudenitch has collaborated with James Conlon, James DePreist, Günther Herbig, Asher Fisch, Stefan Sanderling, Michael Stern, Carl St. Clair, and Justus Franz, with such orchestras as the Munich Philharmonic, the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., the Rochester Philharmonic, the Honolulu Symphony, and the National Philharmonic of Russia. He has also performed with the Takács, Prazák, Borromeo, and Accorda quartets and is a founding member of the Park Piano Trio. He has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center, the Gasteig in Munich, the Conservatorio Verdi in Milan, the International Performing Arts Center in Moscow, Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Bass Hall in Fort Worth, Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory, Orange County Performing Arts Center in California, and the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado. Ioudenitch's recordings include Stanislav Ioudenitch, Gold Medalist, 11th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Harmonia Mundi and Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka produced by Thomas Frost. He also appeared in Playing on the Edge, Peter Rosen's Peabody Award-winning documentary for PBS about the 2001 Van Cliburn Competition and in the PBS Concerto series. In addition to Lake Como, he has led master classes at the Cliburn-TCU Piano Institute in Fort Worth, Stanford University, Cornell University, the National University in Seoul, and Miami's International Institute for Young Musicians. Ioudenitch was educated at the Uspensky School of Music in Tashkent, the Tashkent State Conservatory "M. Ashrafi" (the current Uzkek State Conservatory), the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofia in Madrid, the International Piano Foundation in Como, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Becky Lu

Becky Lu began piano studies at the age of three and has since performed at such venues as Jordan Hall, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and Salle Pleyel to critical acclaim from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Born in Guangzhou, China, Becky made her first appearance on national Chinese television at the age of six, followed by her New York City debut four years later. Active as both a soloist and chamber musician, she has concertized with regional American orchestras, appeared on the National Public Radio program From the Top, and participated in chamber music festivals across the US and Europe, including Kneisel Hall, Taos, Casals, and the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove. Becky holds a B.A. from Yale University, where she graduated magna cum laude, majoring in Political Science and Musicology. As a student of Peter Frankl, she earned a Master of Music degree and an Artist Diploma in Piano Performance from the Yale School of Music. She recently completed an MPhil in Musicology at the University of Oxford, where she also taught undergraduate music theory and analysis and was the winner of Oxford University Philharmonia’s concerto competition. She is currently a doctoral student in Musicology at Cornell University.

Ryan MacEvoy McCullough

Pianist Ryan MacEvoy McCullough performs music ranging from standard repertoire to electroacoustic improvisation. He appeared as concerto soloist with such orchestras as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and performed alongside the Mark Morris Dance Group and contemporary ensemble eighth blackbird. He performed at the Tanglewood Music Center, Token Creek Chamber Music Festival, Sarasota Festival, Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival, and Nohant International Chopin Festival, and co-directed Environs Messiaen, a festival held at Cornell University in March 2015. McCullough has worked closely with composers George Benjamin, John Harbison, Helen Grime and Andrew McPherson. In 2008, Ryan released a CD of solo piano music by twentieth century Polish-French composer Milosz Magin on the Polish label Acte Prealable, and in 2013 was featured on an Innova Records release of Andrew McPherson’s Secrets of Antikythera for magnetic resonator piano. McCullough holds the BA from Humboldt State University, MMus. from the University of Southern California, and Artist Diplomas from the Colburn Conservatory and The Glenn Gould School. He studied with Deborah Clasquin, David Louie and John Perry and worked with Stephen Drury, Leon Fleisher, and Peter Serkin. At Cornell University, McCullough pursues a doctoral degree in Keyboard Studies with Xak Bjerken. For more information, please visit

Simon Morrison

Simon Morrison is Professor of Music at Princeton University. He has published extensively on Prokofiev and other Russian and Soviet composers, and has just completed a book on the Bolshoi Ballet for publication in the fall of 2016.

Dmitri Novgorodsky

Dmitri Novgorodsky was born to a musical family in Odessa, the former USSR. He began to play the piano at age five and was admitted into a special music school for gifted children a year later. By the age of 16, he had won the First Prize at the Kazakhstan National Piano Competition, and later the Gold Medal of the National Festival of the Arts. After graduating from the studio of Victor Merzhanov at Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory with high honors, Novgorodsky immigrated to Israel in 1991. In 1992, he was offered a full scholarship for advanced studies at Yale School of Music under the tutelage of Boris Berman. Currently, Novgorodsky is the first and only Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory graduate in Piano Performance to have earned the Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance degree from Yale. In 1999, he was granted the Extraordinary Abilities in the Arts permanent US residence, "as one of a small percentage of those who have risen to the top in their field of endeavor". Novgorodsky has appeared in Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Kazakhstan, Israel, France, Austria, Spain, Canada, Turkey, and Taiwan. In the US, he has performed at such venues as Carnegie and Steinway Halls; the Kennedy Center and the Residence of Russian Ambassador to the Unites States (Washington, DC); the WLFN Talent Showcase (Philadelphia); and the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, WI (in live broadcast of solo recitals). Novgorodsky's pedagogical experience comprises more than 14 years of university teaching. His former students have continued their graduate studies at Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Colorado Boulder, UW Madison, University of Texas at Austin, and Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He has been a piano faculty at Grand Valley State University, University of Wisconsin, Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, and Fredonia School of Music. He joined the Ithaca College School of Music’s piano faculty as Assistant Professor in fall 2012.

Nancy Pollak

Nancy Pollak is an associate professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at Cornell. Her teaching interests include Russian and English-language poetry, translation of poetry, and the nineteenth-century Russian novel. She is the author of Mandelstam the Reader and of articles on Mandelstam, Pasternak, Annenskii, and Lermontov. She is currently working on a study of mid-twentieth century American poets’ reading of Russian poetry.

Geoff Waite

Geoff Waite teaches philosophy, literature, and visual studies at Cornell University. His teaching and research take a point of departure from Jane Ellen Harrison’s thesis, “The oldest things lie deepest and live longest” (Themis, 1912), that is, from interest in the afterlife of archaic and ancient thinking in modern and postmodern philosophical, literary, and visual production. His writing includes work on Althusser, Bataille, David Cronenberg, Marcel Detienne, Gadamer, Gramsci, Lionel Feininger, Freud, Heidegger, Hölderlin, Kôjin Karatani, Kleist, Lacan, Henri Lefebvre, Lenin, Marx, Nicole Loraux, Nietzsche, Schelling, Carl Schmitt, Spinoza, Leo Strauss, Velázquez, Aby Warburg, Wilhelm Worringer.

Miri Yampolsky

Pianist Miri Yampolsky made her orchestral debut as a soloist with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Zubin Mehta at the age of 16, playing Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 1. Since then, she appeared with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Mainz Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica de Valencia, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, National Orchestra of Johannesburg, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the Peninsula Music Festival orchestra, and Cornell Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. A first prize winner of the Valencia International Piano Competition Prize Iturbi in Valencia, and the ARD International Music Competition in Munich, Yampolsky is an avid and active chamber musician, with appearances in festivals such as Tanglewood, Ravinia, Davos, Berlin Festwoche, Tucson Winter International Chamber Music Festival, Olympic Music Festival, Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival, Peninsula Music Festival, Schwetzingen Festival, Citta di Castelo; Klassikfest Kaisrstuhl, Lucena International Piano Festival, and Salzburg’s Mozarteum. Yampolsky’s teachers include Hannah Shalgi, Michael Boguslavsky, and Chaim Taub in Israel; Prof. Dmitri Bashkirov and Marta Gulyas at the Escuela Superior De Musica “Reina Sofia” in Madrid, and Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. Yampolsky is on the faculty at Cornell University and is a co-artistic director of the international chamber music festival Mayfest.

Andrew Zhou

A pianist with a penchant for adventurous, thoughtful, and challenging programming, Andrew Zhou has concertized in major venues in Los Angeles, Boston, and Paris. He has collaborated with conductors David Robertson and Brad Lubman, and has worked with composers Unsuk Chin, Pierre Boulez, Tristan Murail, Roberto Sierra, Christopher Stark, and Christian Wolff. Finalist and winner of four special prizes in the Concours International de Piano d’Orléans, Andrew has toured the Centre région of France in a series of recitals and master classes. He has been a fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center and this year returns to the Lucerne Festival Academy. After studies with Bruce Brubaker at New England Conservatory and with Thomas Schultz at Stanford University, he is now completing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Keyboard Studies with Xak Bjerken at Cornell University. At Cornell, he was the recipient of the Manon Michels Einaudi Grant as well as a Don Randel Fellowship, which allowed him to create and execute an undergraduate seminar on the subject of music and diplomacy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. His academic work unites and counterpoints sound studies, disability studies, recording technologies and histories, and performance practice. Zhou has recently released a CD entitled Vienne et après (Tessitures), which includes first studio recordings of works by Matthias Pintscher and Olga Neuwirth.

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