Cellist Robert Battey is a nationally-known performer, teacher, and writer; he has appeared as soloist or recitalist in Canada, Mexico, and throughout the U.S., including at Carnegie Recital Hall, the Phillips Collection, and the National Gallery of Art. He has served as principal cellist for the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, Florida West Coast Symphony, National Philharmonic, and Kansas City Lyric Opera, and his varied chamber music performances have been heard throughout the U.S. in radio and television broadcasts.
In recent seasons, Battey performed the Lalo, Haydn, and Beethoven Triple concertos with area orchestras, and last year he presented the complete Bach Cello Suites in a single concert at four different venues. He performs on a magnificent instrument by J.B. Vuillaume.
A pupil of Bernard Greenhouse and Janos Starker, Battey was professor of cello at SUNY-Potsdam and the University of Missouri before moving to Washington, where he taught chamber music at the Levine School. He also writes articles and reviews for the Washington Post and STRINGS magazine.
In September 2009 Sofya Gulyak was awarded the 1st prize and the Princess Mary Gold Medal at the Sixteenth Leeds International Piano Competition – the first woman in the history of the competition to achieve this distinction. Since then she has appeared all over the world to great acclaim.
Her recital programmes are frequently reviewed in superlatives, and her concerto appearances with major orchestras are noted in glowing terms by the world’s music press. Sofya has been praised for her "tremendous precision and colouration...exquisite soft playing ...with delicacy" and described as a “Rach star" (Washington Post).
Sofya Gulyak’s resume includes prizes from many prestigious piano competitions: she is a 1st prize winner of William Kapell International Piano Competition in the USA, Maj Lind Helsinki International Piano Competition, Tivoli Piano Competition in Copenhagen, Isang Yun International Piano Competition in South Korea, San Marino Piano Competition, winner of Busoni Competition in Italy and prize winner of Marguerite Long Piano Competition in Paris.
Recitals and concert appearances have been numerous, with Sofya Gulyak having performed all over the globe in such venues as La Scala Theatre and Sala Verdi in Milan, Herculessaal in Munich, Salle Cortot, Salle Gaveau and Salle Pleyel in Paris, Tokyo Opera City Hall, Osaka Symphony Hall, Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory, Konzerthaus in Berlin, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Kennedy Center in Washington, Hungarian National Opera, Palais de la Musique in Strasbourg, Hong Kong City Hall, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Musashino Cultural Centre in Tokyo, Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, Teatro Municipal adn Cidade des Artes in Rio de Janeiro, Auditorium Manzoni in Bologna, Aberdeen Music Hall, Salle Molière in Lyon, Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, King Theatre in Rabat, Kursaal in Bern, Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen and many others.
Sofya Gulyak appeared as a soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony, Saint-Petersburg Philharmonic, Rio de Janeiro Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra,Budapest Philharmonic, Orchestra dell’ Arena di Verona, Orchestra Filarmonica di Bologna, Enescu Philharmonic, Stavanger Symphony, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Slovak Radio Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Copenhagen Symphony, Ulster Symphony, Orchestre National de France, Shanghai Philharmonic, Oulu Philharmonic, Leipzig Philharmonic, Pensacola Symphony, Tatarstan Symphony, Philippines Philharmonic, Morocco Philharmonic.
She collaborated with conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sakari Oramo, Mark Elder, David Hill, Donald Runnicle, Vasily Petrenko, Alexander Lazarev, Alan Buribayev, Eiving Gullberg, Jensen, Theodor Guschlauer, Rory McDonald, Tamami Nishimoto, Danail Rachev, Fabio Mastrangelo, Michele Mariotti, Fuat Mansurov, Alexander Sladkovsky, Mario Kosik, Jesus Medina,Tomomi Nishimoto, Istvan Denes, Peter Rubardt and others. The festivals in which Sofya Gulyak participated include Klavier Ruhr Festival, Chopin Festival in Duzniki-Zdroj, Festival du Sceaux, International Keyboard Festival in New York, International Strasbourg Festival, Busoni Festival, Harrogate Festival, Krakòv Piano Festival, New Zealand Piano Festival, Ravello Festival, Festival Chopin in Paris, Shanghai International Piano Festival and many others.
Sofya Gulyak’s recording of Russian piano music (Medtner, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev) was released on Champs Hill Records in 2013 and received a 5 stars review in Diapason magazine (“What a pleasure to hear the piano blossoming and projecting in the most vivid of ways when played by Sofya Gulyak. The singing sound alongside dazzling and powerful execution distinguishes an outstanding natural pianist”) and praising reviews in Gramophone (“This is a stunning debut album…”) and Guardian magazines (“Sofya Gulyak is a fearless pianist, never afraid to scale the most technically demanding heights of the repertoire and equally proud to wear her heart on her sleeve”). Her CD with Brahms music was released on Piano Classics in the spring of 2015 and got glowing reviews from American Record Guide ("The Handel Variations is among the top contenders on record. From the very first notes she takes charge and envelops us in a thrilling sequence of variations that will send goose bumps to susceptible listeners. Not only does she perform with arresting contrast and lovely, soft floating tone. She keeps you on the edge of your seat, as the music presses ever forward. Sometimes I was reminded of the young Argerich.." and Fanfare magazine (" Her musicality is beautifully attuned to the spirit of Brahms...I must praise Kazan-born Russain pianist Sofya Gulyak, whose impressive reading places a stronger emphasis than Perahia's in the continuity of the variations... She is a natural Brahmsian whatever his moods.")
Sofya Gulyak is a native of Kazan (Russia) where she studied in a Special Music College under Nailya Khakimova, and then in Kazan State Conservatoire under Professor Elfiya Burnasheva. After that she continued her studies at the Piano Academy "Incontri coi Maestri" (Imola, Italy) with Boris Petrushansky and at the Royal College of Music in London with Vanessa Latarche.
Sofya Gulyak attended as a jury member the International Piano Competitions in Italy, Serbia, France, Greece, USA, and was invited to teach master classes in China, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Hong Kong, Mexico, USA, and Germany. She is presently a professor of the piano at the Royal College of Muisc in London.
Her playing has been broadcast on radio and TV in Russia, Poland, France, Italy, Germany, USA, Finland, Denmark, Serbia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.
Juan Carlos Escudero was born in Guayaquil on January 28, 1984. In 1994, Escudero joined the Rimsky -Korsakov Music Conservatory of Guayaquil, where he began his piano training with Aliona Dziouba. In 1999 he began studying piano and chamber music with Reinaldo Cañizares. In 1995 he won the First Prize of the Ecuadorian National Musical Competition at the Ecuadorian - German Cultural Center. At the age of 12 he made his debut as soloist with the Guayaquil ́s Municipal Museum Chamber Orchestra and two years later, at Cuenca ́s Symphony Orchestra. In 2002 he obtained, for the second time, the First Prize in the National Classical Music Competition, organized by the Ecuadorian - German Cultural Center. He earned a degree in Music Technology – specializing in Piano – at the Rimsky Korsakov Music Conservatory of Guayaquil. Escudero also participated in presentations and concerts in Boston (2004), Chile (2005) and in other major cities throughout America. In 2007 he graduated as a Lawyer of the Courts and Tribunals of Ecuador at Guayaquil ́s Catholic University, specializing in Public Law.
He has been soloist with all the symphony orchestras of Ecuador (Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca and Loja). In 2008 he appeared as a soloist with the Symphony Orchestras of Cuenca and Guayaquil, respectively, performing the South American premiere of the American composer Leroy Anderson’s Concerto in C, directed by the renowned American conductor Leif Bjaland. That same year, he performed several concerts in Puebla and Oaxaca, Mexico, being declared by the Council of this city as “Distinguished Visitor”. In May 2009, he debuted as a soloist in the United States with the Pan American Symphony Orchestra of New York City, where he played Edward Grieg’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. In November 2009, for the second time, he returned as a soloist with the Pan American Symphonic Orchestra of New York, this time playing Beethoven’s Third Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. Additionally, he presented a major recital at the Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center in New York, for which the Association of Entertainment Critics of New York – better known as “ACE” – awarded him with the ACE 2010 International Prize among all concerts, voting it “Best of the Year.” On August 2010, after performing with Guayaquil Symphony and Ecuador ́s National Symphony, Juan Carlos Escudero was made a Member of Ecuador’s prestigious “Cultural House” in recognition of “his high merits as an extraordinary piano virtuoso”.On September 26, 2010, he was awarded the 2010 PREMIO ARTE (Arts Prize of New York City), achieving the distinction of 2010 Outstanding Pianist for his concerts in the United States. On March 2011, Juan Carlos Escudero traveled to Lima, Peru, representing Ecuador at the Third International Piano Festival organized by the Ricardo Palma University in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Franz Liszt’s birth. In June 2011, he gave a piano recital in Hollywood, California. The Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, Antonio Ramón Villaraigosa, gave him an award for his contribution to the fine arts as a classical pianist.On June 15, 2012, he was a soloist with Cuba ́s National Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Enrique Pérez Mesa, in la Habana, Cuba. On November 2012, with 28 years old, he was invited by the Organizing Committee of Claudio Arrau ́s International Piano Competition to participate as international jury of the event in Quilpué, Chile. From July 2012 to March 2013, Juan Carlos Escudero worked as the National Director of Performing Arts at the Secretary of Culture of Ecuador. In 2012, Escudero soloed with the Symphony Orchestra of Maracaibo, Venezuela, and in 2013, presented Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Guayaquil ́s Symphony Orchestra. In March, 2014, Escudero performed as piano soloist with the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia, under Music Director and Conductor Jeffrey Dokken, in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Over the past several years, Escudero has performed extensively throughout Asia, and looks forward to concerts in North America, and South America during 2017.