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The Twelfth Annual ABC Gala to be Held at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Monday, April 1, 2019

March 1, 2019 | By Allison Abbott
Publicity Associate, Hemsing Associates

Soprano Denise Young to Perform World Premiere of Work by

Composer/Pianist Thomas Nickell

The Alexander & Buono Foundation is presenting the Twelfth Annual ABC Gala Monday evening, April 1, 2019, at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall (154 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019). The Gala cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m., followed by the concert at 7 p.m. and the dinner at 9 p.m.

The fundraiser, produced in association with the Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University in Sendai, Japan, will benefit winners of The Alexander & Buono Competitions for Piano, Voice, Strings, and Flute. A highlight of the evening’s festivities will include the world premiere of a new work by 20-year old composer/pianist Thomas Nickell, slated to be performed by soprano Denise Young with Mr. Nickell at the piano. The gala will also feature laureates of previous ABC competitions, including pianists Karen Beluso, Ririko Kanno, Mimi Shoji, Clara Belle Wrolstad, and the Shelest Piano Duo.

Tickets for the concert are $250 and are available in person at the Carnegie Hall Box Office at 57th Street and 7th Avenue, by phone through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 as well as online at:

Benefactor Tickets at $750 (cocktail hour, concert, and gala dinner), Sponsor Tickets at $500 (cocktail hour and concert), and Patron Tickets at $250 (concert only) are available online at


A promising new talent, 20-year-old American composer/pianist Thomas Nickell has already garnered recognition for energetic, refined, and focused performances in music centers throughout Europe and the United States. In just a few years, Mr. Nickell has given public performances of important works by Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Gershwin, Khachaturian, Liszt, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, as well as his own compositions.

In the fall of 2018, Mr. Nickell performed twice at New York’s downtown venue SubCulture; in November in solo piano recital and then, in December, in collaboration with percussionist Fiona Stocks-Lyons. This season Mr. Nickell will appear as soloist with the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago under the baton of Mina Zikri, both in Chicago, and, in June 2019, at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Last June Mr. Nickell and the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago performed at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall for the first time.  Mr. Nickell played Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto, Liszt’s Totentanz, and a world premiere of his own composition, Innisfree. Of the performance, Roriane Schrade of New York Concert Review wrote:

"A highlight of his Beethoven, and perhaps the entire concert, was the hallowed Adagio movement. Mr. Nickell is unafraid of extremes of softness and slowness, and he savors the heart-stopping lulls more than many players. Thus, where Beethoven marked con gran espressione, Mr. Nickell maximized the moment, creating such a spell of quietude that one found oneself glowering at a neighboring audience member for breathing too loudly…

Mr. Nickell’s own composition, Innisfree…revealed the influence of Cowell and possibly Crumb in its extended techniques, all while expressing a mood of meditation and mystery that seems to reflect the beginnings of his own individual style. One eagerly awaits hearing his future compositions" (June 8, 2018). 

Mr. Nickell also appeared with the Oistrakh Symphony in Boston and Chicago during the 2017-18 season. During the summer of 2017, he embarked on a tour of the United Kingdom with the Orchestra of the Swan and Artistic Director David Curtis, continuing his collaboration with the highly regarded Stratford-upon-Avon Orchestra, which began in 2015. Tour performances took place in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Litchfield, and London featuring selections from Gershwin, Copland, and Dvorák.

In February 2015, Mr. Nickell made his official debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall as soloist with the Orchestra of the Swan. The program featured the United States premiere of England’s prominent composer David Matthews’ Piano Concerto, Op. 111. Mr. Nickell gave the London premiere of the Matthews’ work with the same forces in July 2016. Michael Miller of New York Arts praised the performance:

"At 18, Thomas Nickell, even in a world populated by numerous prodigies who began to play in public at very young ages, still deserves to be considered a young, emerging artist, and this concert showed him to be a notably mature and tasteful one. […] Mr. Nickell played [Mozart’s Piano Concerto in No. 12] with the finely articulated passagework and crystalline tone that has become a sort of lingua franca in Mozart playing on modern instruments. …Nickell was able to use it to give us a winning and persuasive performance. Having won us over with this Mozart, Nickell proceeded to amaze us with Olivier Messiaen’s exquisite early preludes for piano, still evocative of works Debussy was writing fifteen years earlier, but imbued with a fiery mysticism that is Messiaen’s own. Nickell’s beautiful tone in the higher registers served the composer’s moods and atmosphere well, and he avoided over-pedaling. He most definitely had his own concept of these pieces, and his freedom from the more obvious clichés was impressive" (March 26, 2017). 

Previous engagements for Mr. Nickell included recitals in Italy and an appearance as a special guest artist at the tenth Annual ABC Gala at Carnegie Hall. During the summer of 2016, Mr. Nickell performed recitals in London and made his debut as soloist with the Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of David Curtis. He participated in recital at the 53rd Festivale Pianistico di Brescia e Bergamo in Mozzo, Italy, and played additional recitals in Bergamo, Milan, and Busseto, Italy during the spring of 2016. Previously, he was heard as soloist with the Orchestra Fiati di Ancona in Osimo and Ancona, Italy, and made his recital debut in León and Madrid, Spain; Venice and Bologna, Italy; and Somianka and Warsaw, Poland. He has appeared as soloist with Poland’s Sinfonia Viva under Tomasz Radziwonowicz and has given recitals in Fujisawa and Tokyo, Japan.

Mr. Nickell is currently enrolled at the New School, Mannes College of Music, studying piano with J Y Song. Mr. Nickell makes his home in New York City.

Soprano Denise Young seamlessly blends the genres of opera, jazz, gospel, and classical music. Passionate about the human experience in song, her warm and inspiring repertoire has included performances in solo recitals as well as with classical string quartets, symphony orchestras, jazz quartets, and professional chorales.

Ms. Young has appeared with Grammy–award-winning artist Larnelle Harris, Phillip Bailey of Earth Wind and Fire, the Colorado Symphony, and Condoleezza Rice. The 2017 single release of the Ellington classic hymn “Come Sunday” reintroduces her to jazz fans, already gleaning acclaim from jazz great Henry Threadgill and Patti Cathcart Andress.

Ms. Young’s  first album entitled  Denise Young, Soprano, was released last year; it features performances by Def Poetry artist Sekou Andrews, renowned jazz duo (and album producers) Tuck Andress on guitar and Patti Cathcart Andress (Tuck and Patti) on background vocals, John James on background vocals, percussionist Juan Escovedo, and Grammy-award winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard. Rooted in the classical tradition, the album features Americana, Verdi, American Spirituals, jazz standards, and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess classic “I Loves You Porgy,” sung a capella.

As a company, Alexander & Buono International enjoys a global reputation as the only consulting firm of its kind, while occupying a unique position in the classical music marketplace.  With more than half a century of performance, marketing, and publicity experience as the bedrock for their work, Barry Alexander (Chairman & COO) and Cosmo Buono (Chairman & CEO) fully understand the issues associated with enjoying success in the field of classical music, and are therefore able to offer clients counsel, expertise, and result-oriented solutions.

Whether through performance, music education, arts administration, or a vast array of associated professions, the goal of the firm remains to simplify the process by which artists establish fulfilling lives in the world of classical music.

As ABI has grown, so have its companies, which are designed to facilitate this progression.  With competitions for Piano, Voice, Strings, and Flute, publications, a music festival, and a foundation offering scholarships and study grants, ABI is continuing its commitment to helping musicians realize their dreams.

ABI’s focus is to treat classical music like any other business, while showing clients how to assess, market, and develop their skills in order to create greater visibility and awareness of their work. The firm also guides them in the processes of interfacing with corporations, organizations, institutions, and potential audiences through publicity campaigns, and effective use of media. Individual client counseling, business seminars, and career guidance initiatives round out efforts to make sure that the firm is, in every way possible, helping to not only ensure a strong future for classical music, but also for those who will help define it.

The Alexander & Buono Foundation is a fully compliant 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, registered in the State of New York. All donations are fully tax-exempt under the rules of the Internal Revenue Service.  Through scholarships, study grants, innovative and effective marketing, publicity and media strategies, ABF is helping musicians worldwide become better artists and performers, while developing a new generation of listeners.

For further information, please contact Hemsing Associates at (212) 772-1132 or visit and
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