A Circle of Friends

By: Edna Landau

To ask a question, please write Ask Edna.

What is one of the most valuable assets for any performing artist today? A loyal circle of friends with whom they have maintained contact through the years. Why do I say that?

In late November of 2012, I received a press release announcing the appointment of Tito Munoz as Music Director of Ensemble LPR. The release also announced the upcoming U.S. debut performance of British composer/performer Max Richter’s “Vivaldi Recomposed: The Four Seasons” with violinist Daniel Hope. Having never realized that there was an Ensemble LPR, my curiosity was piqued. I contacted Tito Munoz, who I had met a few years earlier, to find out more. I learned that composer/violinist David Handler, a co-founder of the very successful Le Poisson Rouge in New York’s Greenwich Village, had long envisioned an ensemble growing out of LPR’s eclectic programming. As it turns out, he and LPR’s other founder, cellist Justin Kantor, met at Manhattan School of Music in 1998 while they were getting undergraduate degrees. They formed a piano trio during their second year at school with Cuban born pianist and conductor Orlando Alonso, now co-Artistic Director of Ensemble LPR. Orlando Alonso and Tito Munoz went to the same high school and forged a friendship that they have maintained ever sense. Munoz always wanted to have an affiliation with an ensemble to expand his artistic opportunities beyond the scope of his orchestral conducting. Formerly a freelance violinist in New York, he performed all kinds of music in a variety of venues. His roots in New York City, his versatility in a variety of musical styles, and his burgeoning conducting career made him an attractive candidate for music director of the ensemble. The only “outsider” in all of this was Ronen Givony, whom Kantor and Handler happened to meet socially. His vast knowledge of music and specific business skills seemed perfectly complementary to their own. In addition, his flair for putting together unusual and fascinating programs for the Wordless Music Series, which he founded, made him an ideal artistic partner both for Le Poisson Rouge and its ensemble, of which he is now co-Artistic Director. When all of these gentlemen met together for the first time in August of 2012, old friends found themselves bonding in a new way, filled with inspiration and excitement over what they might create together going forward.

The future for Ensemble LPR looks very bright indeed. Their roster of musicians consists largely of New York’s finest players and can expand and contract according to the nature of the repertoire. They have already secured representation with Opus 3 Artists whose national booking director, Erik Martin, is busy planning tours for the next few seasons. Such tours might include residencies designed jointly with a music school’s composition and conducting departments and even entrepreneurship classes arranged through the business school. The recent performance by Ensemble LPR of Richter’s re-imagining of the Vivaldi Seasons and this past Monday night’s tribute to the late Elliott Carter with Fred Sherry and Ursula Oppens certainly whet one’s appetite to learn what they are planning for their inaugural season, to be announced this June. Their activities are likely to reflect the same unbounded curiosity, imagination and openness that have contributed to making Le Poisson Rouge one of the most vital concert spaces in New York City.

To ask a question, please write Ask Edna.

© Edna Landau 2013

Comments are closed.