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A Beethoven Cycle II: The Complete Sonatas for Piano and Violin

Published September 12, 2023

Poster for Beethoven Cycle II

Northampton, MA — The Sage Chamber Music Society of Smith College presents A Beethoven Cycle II: The Complete Sonatas for Piano and Violin, featuring pianist Jiayan Sun and violinist Elizabeth Chang in a series of three Thursday concerts on September 21 October 19, and November 9 at 7:30 PM in Sweeney Concert Hall. The artists will also present the world premieres of three new works reflecting on Beethoven by Five College faculty composers. The concerts are free and open to the public.

Following the traversal of Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas in chronological order in the 2018–2019 season, pianist Jiayan Sun, Assistant Professor of Music and Associate Chair for Performance Activities at Smith College, will continue his journey exploring Beethoven’s vast output. Unlike the piano sonata cycle that spans Beethoven’s creative lifetime, nine of the ten violin sonatas were composed within a mere six years, from 1797 to 1803. Jiayan Sun remarks, “Beethoven’s creative fervor during this period is nothing short of astonishing, with masterful works emerging one after the other: symphonies, concertos, quartets, and sonatas.” The final masterpiece, the Sonata in G Major, op. 96, composed in 1812, represents Beethoven’s late creative phase with a more eclectic and concentrated compositional style. The series is presented by the Sage Chamber Music Society, featuring Smith College faculty and guest artists performing chamber music from the baroque period to the present day.

Sharing the stage with Jiayan Sun will be guest artist Elizabeth Chang, Professor of Violin at UMass Amherst and The Juilliard School Pre-College. In addition to performing these ten masterworks, they will present the world premiere of three new works, specially composed for this series by Salvatore Macchia, Professor of Composition and String Bass at UMass Amherst, Eric Sawyer, Professor of Music at Amherst College, and David Sanford, Professor of Music at Mount Holyoke College. Each composition is a reflection on a particular sonata or Beethoven’s boundless compositional prowess. Prior to each concert at 6:30 PM, there will be a pre-concert  discussion featuring the artists, the composer, and David Schneider, Professor of Music at Amherst College, who will also contribute the program notes for the series.

Praised for his “revelatory” (New York Times) and “technically flawless, poetically inspired and immensely assured playing” (Toronto Star), pianist Jiayan Sun has given recitals and performed with distinguished conductors and orchestras worldwide, including The Cleveland Orchestra, The Hallé, Chinese and RTÉ (Ireland) National Symphony orchestras, Fort Worth and Toledo Symphony orchestras, and the Toronto and Aspen Concert orchestras. As a prize winner in Leeds, Cleveland, Dublin and Toronto International Piano Competitions, his performances have been broadcast on BBC, RTÉ, China Central Television and classical music radio stations in North America. Sun is Assistant Professor of Music and Associate Chair for Performance Activities at Smith College.

Elizabeth Chang, violinist and Artistic Director of Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, enjoys a varied career as a performer, teacher, and arts administrator. Ms. Chang has embraced leadership roles in the arts community as founder and director/co-director of the Lighthouse Chamber Players, Five College New Music Festival, UMass Amherst Bach Festival and Symposium, and Long River Concerts, among other projects. She has an active chamber music career, collaborating with some of the most prominent artists in the field, and has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician and master class teacher in South America, Europe, and Asia. Chang is Professor of Violin at UMass Amherst.

At a Glance

A Beethoven Cycle II: The Complete Sonatas for Piano and Violin
Featuring violinist Elizabeth Chang and pianist Jiayan Sun

Three Concerts at 7:30 PM on Thursdays: September 21, October 19, November 9, 2023
Pre-concert Discussions at 6:30 PM
Sweeney Concert Hall in Sage Hall, Smith College
144 Green Street, Northampton, MA 01063

Free and open to the public.

Concert 1: Thursday, September 21
Sonatas nos. 1, 2, 7, 8, and the world premiere of Fantasy Variations by Salvatore Macchia

Concert 2: Thursday, October 19
Sonatas nos. 3, 5, 9, and the world premiere of Fast Forward by Eric Sawyer

Concert 3: Thursday, November 9
Sonatas nos. 4, 6, 10, and the world premiere of a new work by David Sanford