Minnesota Orchestra names Erin Keefe as new concertmaster
The Minnesota Orchestra and Music Director Osmo Vänskä announced today the appointment of American violinist Erin Keefe as concertmaster. Keefe, who is known as a renowned chamber musician, will officially begin as concertmaster at the Orchestra’s season opening concerts September 29 to October 1.
(September 22, 2011) The Orchestra’s Concertmaster Search Committee said in a statement, “Throughout the past two seasons our 13-member search committee listened to many excellent concertmaster candidates. Erin Keefe’s audition, in which she performed as concertmaster, chamber musician and soloist, captivated us. Her depth, refinement, and exquisite artistry showed her to be a violinist of the highest caliber. As we welcome Erin to the Minnesota Orchestra, we are confident that she brings the wonderful qualities of talent and leadership commensurate with this great orchestra.”
Keefe played with the Minnesota Orchestra as guest concertmaster in performances last May. “I’m extremely pleased that we are able to announce Erin Keefe as our new concertmaster,” said Music Director Osmo Vänskä. “While our search was underway, we were fortunate to have Sarah Kwak serve as acting concertmaster, allowing us to continue our work at the highest level, and I thank Sarah for her excellent contributions. I look forward to welcoming Erin to the Orchestra and to making extraordinary music.”
Keefe succeeds Jorja Fleezanis, who departed the Orchestra after 20 years of service to become professor of music at Indiana University in 2009. Keefe now becomes the 19th violinist to serve as a Minnesota Orchestra concertmaster in the ensemble’s 109-year history.
“We’re happy to begin our new concert season with this position in place,” said President and CEO Michael Henson. “The Orchestra has a long history of exemplary concertmasters, and Osmo and the Search Committee were dedicated in their search to find the right individual. We look forward to Erin’s leadership.”
Erin Keefe said, “I feel extremely honored to be chosen as the new concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra. I am thrilled to become a member of such a world-class ensemble, and I am looking forward to an exciting season working with the musicians and Maestro Vänskä.”
A native of Northampton, Massachusetts, Keefe is the winner of a 2006 Avery Fisher Career Grant—awarded to musicians with great potential for solo careers—and the 2009 Pro Musicis International Award. She recently took the Grand Prizes in the Valsesia Musica International Violin Competition (Italy, 2009), the Torun International Violin Competition (Poland, 2007), the Schadt Competition (2006) and the Corpus Christi International String Competition (2004), and was the Silver Medalist in the Carl Nielsen, Sendai (Japan) and Gyeongnam (Korea) International Violin Competitions, resulting in performances and re-engagements in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Known as an outstanding chamber musician, Keefe joined the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center as an Artist during the 2010-2011 season after previously being a member of the Chamber Music Society Two program from 2006-2009. She has been featured on Live from Lincoln Center three times with the Society and performs regularly with both the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society and Boston Chamber Music Society.
Keefe has appeared as soloist in recent seasons with orchestras such as the New York City Ballet Orchestra, New Mexico Symphony, the Korean Symphony Orchestra and the Sendai Philharmonic, among others. She has given recitals throughout the United States, Austria, Germany, Korea, Poland, Japan and Denmark and appeared at festivals including Bravo! Vail Valley, Marlboro Music, Music@Menlo and Ravinia, among others. She made her Weill Hall recital debut in 2010.
Keefe has collaborated with leading artists from the Emerson String Quartet, Leon Fleisher and Richard Goode to Gary Graffman, Edgar Meyer and William Preucil. She has performed on a program with Michael Tilson Thomas premiering his own chamber music at Carnegie's Zankel Hall. Her recording credits include Schoenberg's Second String Quartet, Dvořák’s Terzetto and Piano Quartet in E-flat, as well as live performances of the Bartók Contrasts, Dvořák Piano Quintet and Mozart E-flat Piano Quartet, among other works. In January of 2010, Keefe released her first solo CD including works by Mendelssohn, Schumann, Ravel, Sibelius, Lutoslawski and Hindemith, recorded with pianist Anna Polonsky.
Born in 1980, Keefe earned a master of music degree from the Juilliard School and a bachelor of music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music. Her teachers included Ronald Copes, Ida Kavafian, Arnold Steinhardt, Philip Setzer, Philipp Naegele, Brian Lewis and Teri Einfeldt. She will be joined in Minneapolis by her husband, cellist Andrey Tchekmazov.
Gwen Pappas, Director of Public Relations