Musings and Performance Sessions

(All Times Listed Are Central Daylight Time)

Sunday Afternoon Performance with the Omer Quartet and Hanzhi Wang, Accordionist

July 12, 2020 2:30 PM

Omer Quartet

Distinctive among today’s young string quartets, the Omer Quartet is known for presenting both fearless renderings of the standard quartet repertoire and compelling works by today’s composers. The quartet’s members are Mason Yu and Erica Tursi on violins, Jinsun Hong on viola, and Alex Cox on cello.

The Omer Quartet won First Prize in the 2017 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and special Performance Prizes: the Tri-I Noon Recitals Prize from New York’s Rockefeller University, the Tryon (NC) Concert Association Prize, the Buffalo Chamber Music Society Prize, and the Hayden’s Ferry Chamber Music Series Prize. The quartet debuted to critical acclaim in the Young Concert Artists Series at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and in New York at Merkin Concert Hall.

Additional honors include Top Prize at the Premio Paolo Borciani Competition in Italy and Grand Prize and Gold Medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

Committed to community engagement, the Omer Quartet devotes time to creating original and interactive programs. With a grant from the Boston Foundation the quartet performed in homeless shelters and drug rehabilitation centers in the area. The quartet completed a fellowship with Music for Food to aid local hunger relief through a musician-led initiative. A Tarisio Trust Young Artists Grant allowed the quartet to continue this organization’s mission by initiating Music for Food concerts in the Washington, DC, area. This series involves local and out-of-town guest musicians and has created more than ten-thousand meals to date.

The Omer Quartet is currently serving a two-year appointment as the fellowship quartet-in-residence at the Yale School of Music.

Hanzhi Wang

Praised for her captivating stage presence and performances that are technically and musically masterful, the groundbreaking young musician Hanzhi Wang is the only accordionist to ever win a place on the roster of Young Concert Artists (YCA) in its fifty-nine year history. She is proving herself to be the perfect ambassador for her instrument.

Other firsts include being named Musical America’s “New Artist of the Month” and recording the Naxos label’s first-ever solo accordion CD. First Prize Winner of the 2017 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and the recipient of ten special prizes, Wang’s debut opened the 2018–19 YCA Series in New York in the Peter Marino Concert at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. Her Washington, DC, debut opened the Fortieth Anniversary Young Concert Artists Series at the Kennedy Center co-presented with Washington Performing Arts. This season, the Young Concert Artists Series presents her with the Omer Quartet at New York’s Morgan Library and Museum.

Wang won First Prize in the Fortieth Castelfidardo International Accordion Competition in Italy. She inspires the next generation of accordionists with lectures, performances, and master classes around the world. Composers Martin Lohse, James Black, and Sophia Gubaidulina have written and dedicated works to her.

Wang earned her bachelor’s degree at the China Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. She completed her master’s degree with the renowned accordion professor Geir Draugsvoll at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen where she now serves as an assistant teacher.

The appearance of the Omer Quartet with Hanzhi Wang is made possible by generous gifts from the Country Music Association Foundation and Sara Savell, in memory of Las Savell.


Étincelles, Op. 36, No. 6 by Moritz Moszkowski


Performer: Hanzhi Wang


String Serenade by Ernő Dohnányi (for string trio)

I. Marcia      

II. Romanza

Performer: Omer Quartet

Sonata in C Major, K159 by Domenico Scarlatti   

Sonata in G Major, K146

Performer: Hanzhi Wang

String Quartet Op.50 no.5 “The Dream” by Josef Haydn 

IV. Finale. Vivace

Performer: Omer Quartet

Spinning Song by Felix Mendelssohn

Performer: Hanzhi Wang


Tango Sensations by Astor Piazzolla


Performer: Omer Quartet

Performer: Hanzhi Wang

Monday Afternoon Musing with Jessica Bejarano

July 13, 2020 1:00 PM

Jessica Bejarano is the founder and conductor of the new San Francisco Philharmonic – the inspired vision of her commitment to making a high caliber symphony accessible and affordable to the community.

In addition to this work, Bejarano currently serves as assistant conductor of Opera Parallele in San Francisco; music director and conductor of ELM Youth Orchestra; music director of the San Francisco University High School Chamber Orchestra; artistic specialist of Youth Orchestra Salinas; and regular guest conductor with Camerata Antonio Soler Orchestra in San Lorenzo de el Escorial, Spain. She was featured on NBC’s The Today Show with Natalie Morales as the “woman breaking barriers as a trailblazing symphony conductor.” PBS News Hour Weekend also featured a segment on her as an emerging female conductor. She has guest conducted in countries throughout the world, including Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Italy, Romania, Russia, Spain, and Venezuela.

Bejarano was selected to study, work, and conduct with Atso Almila, professor of conducting and orchestra of the Sibelius-Academy in Finland, as well as give a public performance with the Camerata Antonio Soler Orchestra in San Lorenzo de el Escorial, Spain. She also has served as assistant conductor and cover conductor of the State Opera House of Stara Zagora, Bulgaria, where she assisted in premiering Catelli’s Traiano in Tracia, a new Italian opera.

In 2019, Bejarano was the first woman in history to guest conduct the American Youth Symphony in Los Angeles. She was also the featured guest conductor and clinician at the San Diego State University’s Women in Music, Diversity, and Leadership Conference that same year. In 2018, she was one of twelve female conductors selected from around the world to attend and conduct at the International Women’s Conference in New York City, where she represented the United States and Mexico.

The appearance of Jessica Bejarano is made possible by a generous gift from the Country Music Association Foundation.

Tuesday Afternoon Musing and Art Exhibition with Frank Hamrick

July 14, 2020 1:00 PM

It was there all along

by Frank Hamrick

Artist Statement by Frank Hamrick

It was there all along is a series of tintype photographs and a limited edition, artist's book composed of images made in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee in response to my growing concerns about water—in relation to food, recreation, flooding, drought, and coastal erosion. Water is universal and connects people to one another and to nature. As the grandson of a well driller, I learned at an early age that water does not originate from a faucet, nor simply disappear after going down the drain.

If a photograph is likened to a single song, then an artist’s book is similar to an entire album of music complete with cover art and liner notes. By combining images with text and incorporating various materials and processes—such as handmade paper, letterpress, staining, and the layering of different colors of paper—my artist’s books enable me to create limited edition works of art that convey a more complete, realized idea than a single image is capable of doing.

The pieces I make have particular meaning to me, but I understand other people will see them in their own way. My artwork is not necessarily created to illustrate or provide answers. If anything, I would like my art to generate more questions. I do not see my works as endpoints, but rather starting places where I give viewers ideas to ponder and allow room for their imaginations to create the rest of the story.

About The Artist

Artist Frank Hamrick is a professor and graduate program coordinator at Louisiana Tech University School of Design in Ruston, Louisiana. His work has been written about by Oxford American Magazine and National Public Radio and is held in the collection of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Born in Georgia, Hamrick grew up surrounded by the writing of Flannery O’Conner and Alice Walker, as well as the music of Little Richard, Otis Redding, and the Allman Brothers Band. His work combines photography and storytelling with papermaking and letterpress printing to create handmade books that explore the topics of time, relationships, and home. His limited edition artist’s book of tintype images Harder than writing a good haiku earned the 2017 Houston Center for Photography Fellowship and was awarded first place in the 2017 Los Angeles Festival of Photography’s photobook competition. His most recent book is It was there all along.

Hamrick first connected with the Nashville creative community in 2007 as an intern producing letterpress concert posters at Hatch Show Print. In 2015, he created the cover photographs for David Rawlings and Gillian Welch’s record Nashville Obsolete. Since then, his photography has appeared on albums for other songwriters including Kevin Gordon’s Tilt And Shine.

The appearance of Frank Hamrick is made possible by generous gifts from Solie Fott, Watkins College of Art at Belmont University, and the Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation.

Wednesday Afternoon Musing with Jason Robert Brown

July 15, 2020 1:00 PM

Jason Robert Brown is the ultimate multi-hyphenate—an equally skilled composer, lyricist, conductor, arranger, orchestrator, director, and performer, who is best known for his dazzling scores to several of the most renowned musicals of his generation. He is the winner of three Tony awards, garnering prizes in 2014 for Best Score and Best Orchestration for The Bridges of Madison County, a musical adapted with Marsha Norman from the bestselling novel; and the seminal Parade, for which he won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Score. His major musicals as composer and lyricist include 13, which opened on Broadway in 2008; The Last Five Years, which won Drama Desk Awards for Best Music and Best Lyrics; the 2015 Broadway production of Honeymoon in Vegas, based on Andrew Bergman’s film; and Songs for a New World, a theatrical song cycle, which has been seen in hundreds of productions around the world. His orchestral adaptation of E. B. White’s novel The Trumpet of the Swan premiered at the Kennedy Center with John Lithgow and the National Symphony Orchestra.

As a soloist or with his band the Caucasian Rhythm Kings, Brown has performed concerts around the world. For the past four years his monthly sold-out performances at New York’s SubCulture have featured many of the music and theater world’s most extraordinary performers. He has also contributed music to the hit Nickelodeon television series The Wonder Pets, as well as to Sesame Street.

Additionally, Brown served as the orchestrator and arranger of Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’s score for a proposed musical of Star Wars. He has conducted and created arrangements and orchestrations for Liza Minnelli, John Pizzarelli, and Michael Feinstein, among many others.

Future projects include a new chamber musical created with Daisy Prince and Jonathan Marc Sherman called The Connector; an adaptation of Lilian Lee’s Farewell My Concubine, created with Kenneth Lin and Moisés Kaufman; and a collaboration with Billy Crystal, Amanda Green, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel on a musical of Mr. Saturday Night.

The Philadelphia Inquirer has hailed Brown as “one of Broadway’s smartest and most sophisticated songwriters since Stephen Sondheim.” The New York Times has praised him as “a leading member of a new generation of composers who embody high hopes for the American musical.” Brown studied composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, with Samuel Adler, Christopher Rouse, and Joseph Schwantner. He lives with his wife, composer Georgia Stitt, and their daughters in New York City. Brown is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802.

The appearance of Jason Robert Brown is made possible by a generous gift from Pinnacle Financial Partners.

Wednesday Evening Special Performance

An Evening with Aaron Lazar and Friends: Honoring America's Arts Teachers

Hosted by Aaron Lazar

July 15, 2020 7:30 PM

Optional and Open to All Academy Participants

Broadway, film, and television star Aaron Lazar will host a one-hour special program exclusively for the Tennessee Arts Academy on Wednesday, July 15. An Evening with Aaron Lazar and Friends: Honoring America’s Arts Teachers will feature Lazar in conversation with seventeen-time Grammy Award-winner Sting, Wicked sensation Eden Espinosa, TV and Broadway superstar Neil Patrick Harris, and Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera Norm Lewis. The guests will share their stories and talent while paying tribute to the teachers and mentors in their lives who inspired them on their paths to their illustrious careers.


An Evening with Aaron Lazar and Friends: Honoring America’s Arts Teachers is an exclusive event for the 2020 Tennessee Arts Academy participants and the TAA Foundation Board of Directors. This very special evening is generously sponsored by Pat and Thane Smith.


Aaron Lazar

Since his 2005 critically acclaimed performance as Fabrizio Nacarelli in the Tony award-winning hit The Light in the Piazza, Aaron Lazar has established himself as Broadway’s most versatile leading man. His eleven Broadway production appearances include playing opposite seventeen-time Grammy Award-winner Sting in the latter’s epic musical The Last Ship; originating roles in the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury; the world premiere of Impressionism with Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen; and the world premiere of A Tale of Two Cities. Lazar appeared in Sir Trevor Nunn’s revival of Oklahoma; starred in the first Broadway revival of Les Miserables; performed the role of Sam in the global phenomenon Mamma Mia; and made his debut in the longest running show in Broadway history, The Phantom of the Opera. Most recently, Lazar starred in the first national tour of Dear Evan Hansen as Larry Murphy.


Lazar’s film credits include The Wolf of Wall Street (opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie); This is Where I Leave You (as Tina Fey’s workaholic husband Barry); J. Edgar (as Prosecutor Wilentz); and the recent blockbusters Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: End Game. On television, Lazar has appeared in more than a dozen shows for the major networks including Quantico, The Strain, Disney’s Girl Meets World, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, The Following, New Amsterdam, All My Children, and many others. This fall, he stars opposite Kim Cattrall in the new one-hour gothic-soap Filthy Rich.

Lazar’s symphony credits include Billy Bigelow in Carousel with the Boston Pops, Lt. Cable in South Pacific at the Hollywood Bowl, Paul in Company (live with the New York Philharmonic), and multiple appearances with both the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall and the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. Other notable appearances include the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra at Masada and the English National Opera Orchestra at the Coliseum in London’s West End. Lazar’s voice can be heard on numerous Broadway cast albums and dozens of television commercials. He is an honorary board member of the Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation, as well as an alumnus of Duke University and the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Lazar is the proud father of two boys—Julian and Adrian.

An Evening with Aaron Lazar and Friends: Honoring America's Arts Teachers is made possible by a generous gift from Pat and Thane Smith.

Thursday Afternoon Performance with Carmine Miranda

July 16, 2020 1:00 PM

Performance with Carmine Miranda (Cellist) with Elena Bennett (Piano Accompanist)

American cellist Carmine Miranda has quickly established an award-winning international career and recognition as a soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist. He’s been praised by many publications such as Fanfare Magazine for “fast becoming known for his ability to combine virtuosity with intense, well-thought-out interpretations” and by The Strad Magazine for “showing himself to be in full command of both instrument and works.” Born in Venezuela to Armenian and Italian immigrants, Miranda began his musical studies at the Latin-American Academy of Violoncello and the Simon Bolivar Conservatory of Music. In the United States, he continued his musical education with a doctoral degree in cello performance and a chamber music cognate from the University of Cincinnati. Miranda has performed in prominent concert halls and music festivals in the United States and around the world, including Carnegie Hall, DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, Maurice Gusman Concert Hall, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, and many others. He is the winner of numerous recognitions and awards at the national and international level. With his recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Six Cello Suites at the age of twenty-two, followed by Alfredo Piatti’s Twelve Caprices for Solo Cello at the age of twenty-three, Miranda joined the ranks of the youngest musicians in the world to record both works in their entirety with no editing. In 2019 Miranda joined the music faculty at Belmont University where he teaches cello and chamber music. He is regularly invited to conduct master classes as a professor and lecturer at some of the finest institutions and music festivals around the world.

Elena Bennett

Piano Accompanist

Elena Bennett is a full-time instructor of piano in the Belmont University School of Music, where she also serves as class piano coordinator and accompanist coordinator. In addition to her teaching, she is the pianist for Christmas at Belmont; the President’s Concert; and the School of Music’s largest ensemble, Oratorio. Born in Moscow, Russia, Bennett received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance from the Russian Academy of Music, which is recognized worldwide as one of the premier conservatories in Russia. She regularly performs in collaborative and solo recitals throughout the Southeast, including numerous appearances with the Nashville Ballet, Nashville Symphony, Nashville Opera, and Belmont Camerata.

The appearance of Carmine Miranda is made possible by generous gifts from Bobby Jean Frost, in memory of Donna Frost; the Lingner Gift Fund; Steinway Piano Gallery; and Strategic Resource Management.


Fantasiestücke, Op. 73 - ROBERT SCHUMANN (Germany)

I, Zart und mit Ausdruck

II, Lebhaft, leicht

III, Rasch und mit Feuer

Après un rêve - GABRIEL FAURÉ: (France)


Requiebros - GASPAR CASADÓ (Spain)

Friday Afternoon Performance with Tennessee Shakespeare Company

“Take upon’s the mystery of things”: Classical Creativity in Isolation

July 17, 2020 1:00 PM

During the current pandemic and this time of social distancing, what can we learn from members of the creative class, who have so often faced such dangerous unknowns? Join the Tennessee Shakespeare Company for an intrepid exploration of famous creations by artists throughout history who endured multiple forms of isolation, including Frederick Douglass, Boccaccio, Cervantes, Galileo, Allan Ginsberg, Martin Luther King Jr., Frida Kahlo, Shakespeare, Malcolm X, and Thoreau.  Five of Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s principal actors will perform: founder Dan McCleary, Stephanie Shine, Carmen-maria Mandley, Michael Khanlarian, and Darius Wallace.

The Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC) is the first and only professional, not-for-profit theatre and education organization in Memphis. The company is dedicated to giving live, diverse performances of William Shakespeare’s plays, sharing works of social significance by classical, Southern, and modern playwrights; and to providing innovative education, training, and outreach programming. Now with its own permanent theatre facility, TSC has engaged its community with forty-five site-specific plays and events for more than fifty-thousand patrons. Its ground-breaking education program has reached one hundred and twenty schools across nine states, totaling more than two hundred fifty thousand student interactions. In the last decade, TSC’s work in title one schools, adjudicated youth prison systems, and the Memphis Veterans’ Hospital has been acknowledged nationally and awarded grant funding by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The appearance of Tennessee Shakespeare Company is made possible by a generous gift from Pat and Thane Smith.

Tennessee Arts Academy

Belmont University / 1900 Belmont Blvd. / Nashville,TN 37212

Email: / Phone: 615-460-5451

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