2023 Gilmore Rising Stars Series features emerging classical and jazz pianists

August 1, 2023

Four artists with ascending careers will visit Kalamazoo, Michigan, to perform in The Gilmore’s 2023 Rising Stars Series of fall concerts. Tickets are on sale now. 

“We are thrilled to welcome these young piano stars to Kalamazoo this fall, most for the first time” says van der Westhuizen. “We try to schedule young artists on their way up – however, the careers of these four have sped up even since we contracted with them more than a year ago. Two will be playing jazz, as part of our expanded jazz programming. We invite you to join us as we continue our mission to nurture and celebrate a passion for piano music.”

Some may recall that past Gilmore Rising Stars include Lang Lang, Igor Levit, and Emmet Cohen. Kicking off the season will be the return of 2022 Gilmore Young Artist Janice Carissa on Sunday, September 10.  Ms. Carissa made her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at 16. She’s a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, pursuing a master’s degree at The Juilliard School with Robert McDonald. Her performance schedule this season includes the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the San Diego Symphony, and the prestigious Vilnius Festival (Lithuania).  For The Gilmore, she will play selections by composers including Busoni, Liszt, and Scriabin, along with the world premiere of a commission by Carl Vine made possible with her Gilmore Young Artist Award. Her performance is sponsored by a friend of The Gilmore. 

The Esteban Castro Trio performs on Sunday, October 8. The pianist and composer performs with his own band and as a sideman, while studying at The Juilliard School, and privately with Fred Hersch. Mr. Castro has played with and earned accolades from a cadre of top jazz players, and at venues including The Blue Note, The Montreux Jazz Festival, Birdland, Jazz Gallery, and Smalls Jazz Club. He was a finalist for the 2023 American Pianist Association Competition; won the Grand Bohemian Prize at the 2022 American Jazz Pianist Competition; and has garnered three ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Awards. Mr. Castro will play piano alongside Gervis Myles on bass (drummer TBD) in a performance sponsored by the John Stites Artist Awards. As well, Mr. Castro will also play at a Baby Grands free family concert on Saturday, October 7, 12 p.m. at Willard Library, 7 W. Van Buren, Battle Creek. 

Ukrainian pianist Illia Ovcharenko performs on Sunday, October 29. Winner of the 2022 Honens International Piano Competition, the 21-year-old has performed with leading orchestras and at music festivals around the world. In 2022, he won the New York International Piano Competition, and in 2021, was Laureate of the Busoni International Piano Competition and won the Michelangeli Prize at the Eppan International Piano Academy, both in Italy. Mr. Ovcharenko is a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship of Ukraine, and is pursuing a master’s degree at the Hannover Hochschule für Musik und Theater Medien. He will play selections by composers including Liszt, Scarlatti, Silvestrov, and Revutsky, and his performance is sponsored by Three Rivers Friends of The Gilmore.

Wrapping up the Rising Stars concerts for 2023 will be the Sean Mason Trio on Sunday, December 3. The pianist and composer began teaching himself piano at 13, starting with the music of his upbringing – gospel, soul, and R&B. Based in New York, he studies at The Juilliard School and leads the Sean Mason Quintet. From his hometown of Charlotte, NC, he leads the Sean Mason Trio. Mr. Mason has played at Smoke Jazz Club, Smalls Jazz Club, Lincoln Center, and the Rochester Jazz Festival. His debut record of original compositions, The Southern Suite, was produced by Branford Marsalis and will be released this fall on Blue Engine Records, the label of Jazz At Lincoln Center. Mr. Mason will play piano alongside Malcolm Charles on drums and Butler Knowles on bass in a performance sponsored by the John Stites Artist Awards.  

Tickets for all four performances are on sale now, General admission is $28, students $7, with livestream available on a pay-what-you-choose basis. Patrons purchasing full price tickets to all four will receive a 15% discount.

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