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Pianist/Composer Thomas Nickell to Appear as Soloist With Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra of Chicago at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall June 2, 2019

May 14, 2019 | By Ellen Churui Li
Publicity Intern, Hemsing Associates

Program Features Bach, Schnittke, and Works by Mr. Nickell

American pianist/composer Thomas Nickell, an artist with “an ever increasing reputation as a player’s player and composer” (Litchfield Live, July 23, 2017) will appear as soloist with the Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra of Chicago under the baton of Mina Zikri at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall on Sunday afternoon, June 2, 2019, 3 p.m., presented by the Alexander & Buono Foundation. The program follows:

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)                      String Symphony No. 10 in B-minor, MWV N 10

                                                                           Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)              Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 1052

                                                                            Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Nickell, piano


Thomas Nickell (b. 1998)                                 On a Windy Night

                                                                            Mr. Nickell, piano

Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998)                            Concerto for Piano and Strings

                                                                            Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Nickell, piano       

Tickets at $40 & $30 will be available for purchase through the Carnegie Hall Box Office at 57th St and 7th Ave, through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, and at Student and senior discounts are available at the box office.

A promising new talent, Thomas Nickell has already garnered recognition for energetic, refined, and focused performances in music centers throughout Europe and the United States. In a few short 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.

This season, Mr. Nickell gave a solo recital at SubCulture and appeared as soloist in Chicago with Mina Zikri and the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago.  In June 2018, Mr. Nickell made his Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall debut with the Oistrakh Symphony, performing Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto, Liszt’s Totentanz, and giving the 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).

During the summer of 2017, Mr. Nickell 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 Dvorak.

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).

David La Marche of New York Concert Review was also highly enamored of the performance: “Musicians such as Thomas Nickell and the Orchestra of the Swan, who place integrity and enjoyment above all else, are a rarity and a pleasure to encounter. I hope to hear them again soon” (March 4, 2017).

2016-17 season 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 appeared in recital 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.  In 2014, Nickell travelled to Japan to perform recitals in Fujisawa and Tokyo.  Mr. Nickell has appeared as soloist with Poland’s Sinfonia Viva under Tomasz Radziwonowicz.

Mr. Nickell is currently enrolled at the New School, Mannes College of Music, studying piano with J Y Song.  Mr. Nickell, who makes his home in New York City, likes to paint in his spare time and enjoys photography, the occasional foray into writing, and reading non-fiction, especially about composers.

As Founder, Music Director, and Conductor of the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago, Mina Zikri is using his considerable talents to forge relationships with artists and musical organizations throughout the world, all in the name of developing new audiences for classical music. Recently he traveled with Daniel Baremboim as the backstage and assistant conductor for Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde on a tour that took them to Europe and South America performing at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, at The Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, and at Buenos Aires’ legendary Teatro Colón. He returns each season to his native Egypt to guest-conduct the National Symphony.

At a time when even some of the greatest orchestras in the United States are failing under the immense pressures of financial and cultural uncertainty, Zikri believes that symphony orchestras must remain a part of the educational foundation of students everywhere.

A member of the faculty of DePaul University Community Music Division, his many career distinctions include his being named one of the twelve finalists in the 2007 Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition, where he was chosen from 223 candidates from 40 countries. He has attended the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen, Colorado on a fellowship, and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from DePaul University, as well as a Performance Certificate in violin.

The Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago was founded in 2005, and draws young professionals and recent graduates from major music programs in the area, in particular the DePaul University School of Music in Chicago, with whom it has a strong professional relationship. The Oistrakh Symphony frequently performs symphonic and chamber orchestra concerts, bringing in well-known featured soloists, thereby fulfilling their mission to offer audiences and musicians exposure to a broad classical repertoire performed at the highest level.

OSC is dedicated to providing early exposure to classical music to children in Chicago and beyond, as well as music outreach programs that impact students and spark an early interest in classical music.  Their concerts are a unique experience where the conductor and musicians are eager to engage with the audience, explain the music they are playing, and collaborate with unexpected venues and artists. Past and current collaborators include The Distant Brothers, Aryk Crowder, and Grammy award-winner Howard Levy.

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

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