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Astor Piazzolla, A Life in Music

Conceived by Lesley Karsten
Written by Lesley Karsten
and Stephen Wadsworth 

in rotation
Brandt Fredriksen, piano     
Nick Danielson
, violin
J.P. Jofre, bandoneon
Julien Labro, bandoneon
Eric Silberger, violin
Lesley Karsten, actor

Directed by Stephen Wadsworth
Music Director Brandt Fredriksen
Arrangements by
Pablo Ziegler
Emilio Solla
Rodolfo Zanetti

Associate Director:  Sarah Meyers
Story and Music Consultants
Fernando Gonzalez and Kip Hanrahan

Lighting Design:  Daniel Barbee
Costume Design:  Mariah Hale
Design Consultant:  Charlie Corcoran 
LESLEY KARSTEN, actor/writer, has an extraordinary and varied career in film and music.    

     Karsten began her professional life as a literary agent in Los Angeles. She moved to New York to pursue a career in documentary film, allowing her to work on projects covering such diverse subject matter as mental illness, the class system in Great Britain, the Mormons, infidelity, and the spiritual aftershocks of 9/11.
     Working with renowned documentary film producer, Helen Whitney, Ms. Karsten
served as associate producer of a two-part special for PBS entitled Forgiveness: A Time to Love; A Time to Hate. She recently completed work on a two-hour documentary Into the Night -- Portraits of Life and Death, also with Ms. Whitney, premiering on PBS in Spring 2018.
     Karsten has studied both piano and voice and served as cantorial soloist of New York's Congregation
, Da'at Elohim.
     Her experience translating personal narrative into vivid story-telling coupled with her love of music inspired this collaboration.

STEPHEN WADSWORTHwriter/director, is a ground-breaking writer and director for the stage. American Theater has called him “one of the most influential directors of the 21st century.” For his translations of classic French stage works he was named Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Republic of France.

     In opera he wrote A Quiet Place with Leonard Bernstein (GRAMMY nom) and the story for Daron Hagen and Gardner McFall’s Amelia. He is acclaimed for his direction of the Seattle Ring cycle and the operas of Handel, including Rodelinda at the Metropolitan Opera, where he also staged productions of Boris Godunov and Iphigénie en Tauride. He has directed new work by such diverse writers as Beth Henley, Ken Ludwig, Peter Lieberson and Anna Deavere Smith, and he recently directed Terrence McNally’s Master Class on Broadway and in the West End. His work on plays from Aeschylus, Shakespeare and Marivaux to Shaw, Wilde and Coward have established him as a master of the classic repertoire.
     At the Juilliard School he is the The James S. Marcus Faculty Fellow, recipient of the John Erskine Faculty Prize, and creator, with Brian Zeger, of the first intensive acting program for singers in the world.

KIP HANRAHAN, story and music consultant, is a composer, lyricist and record producer.  
     He founded american clavé Music in 1979 as a platform for his own work, and to work with musicians in creating their most personal art using the vocabulary of jazz, Latin and popular music.  The label has been an artistic home for a wide range of artists, including Astor Piazzolla, Don Pullen, Steve Swallow, Allen Toussaint, Charles Neville, Brandon Ross Robby Ameen, Jack Bruce and Ishmael Reed.  
    Hanrahan was a long-time associate of Astor Piazzolla, and produced three of his recordings including Tango Zero Hour, considered by many (including Piazzolla himself) to be Piazzolla's best work and consistently praised for the elegance of its production.  
    Hanrahan's widely acclaimed body of original work is an art music that reinvents popular forms to reveal complexities and possibilities otherwise obscured.  As one critic put it, "it's art you can dance to."  His most recent recording, Crescent Moon Waning, was released on May 3, 2018.
FERNANDO GONZALEZ is an Emmy winning and GRAMMY nominated arts writer, critic and musician. He contributes regularly to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation blog; the digital arts magazine Artburst Miami and writes the blog Jazz With An Accent. He also has been the Associate Editor of The Latin GRAMMY Print & Special Projects for The Latin Recording Academy since 2011.

     His affiliations include stints as staff writer for The Miami Herald and The Boston Globe, correspondent for The Washington Post; Managing Editor of the music magazine JAZZIZ; columnist for Downbeat magazine and contributor to JazzTimes. He has written program notes for Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Edinburgh Festival, has contributed essays to National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, was the managing editor of El, a pioneering bilingual site (1999) and a columnist, writing in Spanish, for, a Latin music website (2000-2002).
     Complementing his work in arts journalism, González has been also active in record production, teaching, radio hosting and arts administration. He was the Curator of Jazz Programming for the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center, Miami (2005-2007) and translated and annotated Astor Piazzolla, A Memoir (Amadeus Press), as told to Natalio Gorín by Argentine New Tango composer Astor Piazzolla (2001).
     Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, González majored in math at the University of Buenos Aires before pursuing music full time. He moved to the United States to attend Berklee College of Music, majoring in Composition/Film Music. He is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (GRAMMY®) and the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Latin GRAMMY ®).

Winner of Artists International in 1991, pianist BRANDT FREDRIKSEN held debut recitals at Weill Recital Hall, Gasteig Cultural Center, and Vafopoulio Hall.

     In 2003, Fredriksen was selected by the U.S. and China Foundation to perform recitals and concerti throughout China, a tour that included Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Shenyang. A founding member of New York City’s Ensemble Respiro, Fredriksen has collaborated with members of the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Detroit Symphony, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras.     
     Fredriksen has also performed with New Hellenic String Quartet, Harrington String Quartet, and members of the American String Quartet.
     His recordings include works by Brahms, Schubert, Mozart, Strauss, Robeson and Raphael. He recorded solo piano music (Scriabin, Glinka, Ravel, Satie, Chopin and Prokofiev) for the soundtrack of the award winning documentary film, Sonia, produced by Lucy Kostelanetz. He has also recorded chamber music composed by Nickitas Demos for the Gregg Russell film A Free Bird and most recently “New Music from Greek and Greek-American Composers” for Albany Records.
​​​​​​​     Fredriksen holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, a Master of Music from The Juilliard School where he was the recipient of the Munz Award, and a Bachelor of Music from Indiana University. He has also studied at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary as a pupil of Ferenc Rados. Mr. Fredriksen’s other principal teachers were Mischa Kottler, Flavio Varani, Charles Fisher, Nadia Reisenberg, James Tocco, Stephen Kovacevich, Gyorgy Sebok and Martin Canin.

A native of San Juan, Argentina, Juan Pablo Jofre Romarion, a.k.a JP JOFRE, is an award-winning bandoneon player and composer. Mr. Jofre has been repeatedly highlighted by the New York Times and praised as one of today’s leading artists by Great Performers at Lincoln Center. 
     His music has been recorded by 13 times Grammy winner Paquito D’ Rivera, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and choreographed/performed by ballet-star Herman Cornejo (Principal Dancer of the American Ballet Theatre).
     A recipient of the National Prize of the Arts grant in Argentina, Mr. Jofre has taken his form of contemporary tango to some of the most important venues around the world. He has performed as soloist/composer with numerous orchestras including the San Antonio SymphonySan Diego Symphony, and Argentina's National Symphony Orchestra.
     Mr. Jofre has participated in many prestigious festivals including the Celebrity Series of BostonUmbria Festival, and Great Performers at Lincoln Center. He has given lectures and master classes at Google TalksTEDtalksThe Juilliard SchoolDartmouth College, and Manhattan School of Music.
     Mr. Jofre has been commissioned by violinist-conductor Michael Guttman and violinist Francisco Fullana in collaboration with the San Antonio Chamber Orchestra and Metropolis Ensemble to write two double concertos for violin and bandoneon. Recently, virtuoso clarinet player Seunghee Lee commissioned Mr. Jofre to write a double concerto for clarinet and bandoneon.
​​​​​​​     More at

Argentine-American violinist NICK DANIELSON enjoys a career as both a classical and tango musician.
     He began his studies at the Curtis Institute at 13 and appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra at 15. After Curtis, Danielson played with the Chester Quartet, then joined New York's Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
     Danielson has performed on Grammy- and Latin Grammy-winning recordings in both genres. He is featured in Stravinsky's Concertino on the Grammy-winning CD, Shadow Dances, on Deutsche Grammaphon.
     Among his many collaborations, Danielson has performed and recorded with Paquito D’RiveraPablo Ziegler, and Wynton Marsalis.
​​​     S
ince 1992 he has served as Assistant Concertmaster of the New York City Ballet Orchestra, with which he performs often as solo violinist.

     He has recorded two solo albums, Tango and Obsession, and Sur: Violín Music of Argentina

Heralded as “the next accordion star”  by the Chicago Tribune, JULIEN LABRO is one of the foremost accordion and bandoneón players in both the classical and jazz genres. Deemed to be “a triple threat: brilliant technician, poetic melodist and cunning arranger,” his artistry, virtuosity, and creativity as a musician, composer and arranger have earned him international acclaim and continue to astonish audiences worldwide.
     Picking up the accordion at 9, French-born Labro was influenced early on by traditional folk music and the melodic, lyrical quality of the French chanson. Upon discovering the music of jazz legends, he quickly became inspired by the originality, freedom, creativity, and the endless possibilities in their musical language.
     After graduating from the Marseille Conservatory of Music, Labro began winning international awards, including the Coupe Mondiale and the Castelfidardo, Marcel Azzola, Jo Privat and Medard Ferrero competitions. Labro then moved to the United States to further pursue his musical dream.
     Piazzolla is a major influence and the reason Labro picked up the bandoneón. It is also the title of his album with  Grammy-winner Jason Vieaux and A Far Cry chamber orchestra. 
     Labro teaches master classes at such renowned institutions as Oberlin, Princeton, Hope College, and the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Virtuoso violinist ERIC SILBERGER is a prize winner of the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition and the Michael Hill International 
Violin Competition in 2011.
     His performances have been described by critics as “spine-tingling…astonishing” (The 
), “dazzling virtuoso playing” (The Washington Post), “impeccable level of playing, a 
wonderful musician” (Heather Kurzbauer, The Strad), and “ ….he has got everything in his favour, technique, composure and personality. We are on the eve of a great soloist” (El Pais, Spain).
     Eric has performed as soloist, recitalist and chamber musician throughout the United States and around the world, including appearances at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Louvre in Paris, the Great Hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonia, The Moscow International House of Music in Russia, Shanghai Grand Theatre in China, Royal Festival Hall in London, Seoul Arts Center in Korea, the National Arts Centre in Canada, and more. Among numerous television and radio appearances in the United States, Asia, and Europe, he was featured on Radio France, STV in China, KBS in Korea, and WQXR, WFYI, FOX 59, WISH-TV, and NPR, among others.
     An avid chamber musician, Eric frequently performs chamber music internationally. He also has a special collaboration with bandoneonist and composer JP Jofre and the JP Jofre Hard Tango Chamber Band.
     Eric received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Columbia University and a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School. Mentors have included Glenn Dicterow, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Robert Mann, and Dorothy Delay, among others. He was also mentored by Maestro Lorin Maazel.
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