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review: Skalkottas: Piano Pieces
Idith Meshulam, pianist and artistic director of Ensemble Π, is rapidly becoming acknowledged as one of the most foremost interpreters of and advocates for contemporary American classical music. Under Ms. Meshulam’s leadership, Ensemble Π, established in 2002, has taken a central role for four years in the programming and performance of the Festival of New American Music, held annually in New York City. During the Festival, Ensemble Π works each year with twenty to thirty composers, bringing their work to life. Ms. Meshulam has also recently organized and performed in two concerts at Cooper Union in New York City. The first, in honor of composer Robert Helps, was reviewed in The New York Times and recorded for National Public Radio. The second, “Thoughts about Peace in a Time of War,” presented the music of four living American composers; Frederic Rzewski, Elias Tanenbaum, Kirsten Norderval, and Philip Wharton.
Born in Israel, Ms. Meshulam first studied piano with her mother, Shelly Asher-Meshulam. At age nine, she performed with the Tel Aviv Chamber Orchestra, and for several years with the Kibbutzim Orchestra, all the while giving solo recitals and broadcast concerts throughout Israel. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Rubin Academy in Tel Aviv, she focused on playing the works of contemporary composers, among them Olivier Messiaen, for whom she has played in person. Ms Meshulam received her master’s degree from University of South Florida, where she first met Robert Helps, who became a friend and mentor.
Ms. Meshulam received her doctorate from New York University, where she taught for ten years. While a student at NYU, she researched the unpublished piano music of Stefan Wolpe for her doctoral dissertation. Her involvement with the Greek composer Nikos Skalkottas began in 1999, when she organized the first all-Skalkottas concert in NY, honoring him on the 50th anniversary of his death. Ms. Meshulam worked with Mr. Papaioannou, a prominent Skalkottas scholar, before his death, and had the opportunity to play for and be mentored by him. This work led Ms. Meshulam to her collaboration with the composer and conductor Gunther Schuller, with whom she recorded Skalkottas’ 32 Piano Pieces for GM Recording. Ms Meshulam also recently celebrated Skalkottas’ centennial in a concert at Bard College.
Invitation for Remembering the Past Year
December 5, 1999
Solo Flights, Double Features
March 4, 1996
Idith Meshulam at Merkin Concert Hall
May 24, 1996
Idith Meshulam NY Recital