2018 Guest Artists

Stefan Jackiw, Violin

Performing Korngold Violin Concerto

Violinist Stefan Jackiw is recognized as one of his generation’s most significant artists, captivating audiences with playing that combines poetry and purity with an impeccable technique. Hailed for playing of “uncommon musical substance” that is “striking for its intelligence and sensitivity” (Boston Globe), Jackiw has appeared as soloist with the Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco symphony orchestras, among others.

Artist Bio

Last season Stefan Jackiw performed Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto at Carnegie Hall with Mikhail Pletnev, before embarking on a multi-city tour with the Russian National Orchestra. He also appeared in recital with acclaimed pianist Jeremy Denk performing Ives’ Violin Sonatas. In Europe, Stefan returned to Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, and made his debut with Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. And in Asia, he appeared for the first time with the Tokyo Symphony at Suntory Hall under the direction of Krzysztof Urbanski, and returned to the Seoul Philharmonic under Mario Venzago. He also toured Korea, playing chamber music with Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica.

This season, Stefan will appear on tour throughout North America, including performances with the Vancouver Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, and New Jersey Symphony. He will also perform with Juraj Valčuha both with the Philharmonia Orchestra and RAI Turin Orchestra. Tours in Europe, will also take Stefan back to the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic with Ludovic Morlot, and to the Helsinki Philharmonic and Bern Symphony with Mario Venzago, and to the Munich Symphony. Further afield, he will appear on tour with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic in Shanghai and Mumbai. This season he also records the complete Ives Violin Sonatas with Jeremy Denk for Nonesuch Records, ahead of their North American tour in the 2017-18 season. Previous recordings include the complete Brahms Sonatas for Sony, hailed by Fanfare as “now the recording of the Brahms sonatas to have”.

In recent seasons, Stefan toured Australia playing Mendelssohn with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and gave the world premiere of American composer David Fulmer’s Violin Concerto No 2 “Jubilant Arcs”, written for him and commissioned by the Heidelberg Festival with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie under Matthias Pintscher. Other recent highlights include performances with the St. Louis Symphony under Nicholas McGegan, and with the Rotterdam Philharmonic under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and performances with the Indianapolis Symphony under Krzysztof Urbanski, and the Pittsburgh Symphony under Juraj Valcuha.

As an active recitalist and chamber musician, Stefan has performed in numerous important festivals and concert series, including the Aspen Music Festival, Ravinia Festival, and Caramoor International Music Festival, the Celebrity Series of Boston, New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Washington Performing Arts Society and the Louvre Recital Series in Paris. As a chamber musician, Jackiw has collaborated, along with Jeremy Denk, with such artists as Steven Isserlis, Yo-Yo Ma, and Gil Shaham.

Born in 1985 to physicist parents of Korean and German descent, Stefan Jackiw began playing the violin at the age of four. His teachers have included Zinaida Gilels, Michèle Auclair, and Donald Weilerstein. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University, as well as an Artist Diploma from New England Conservatory, and is the recipient of a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. He lives in New York City.

www.stefanjackiw.com

Calidore String Quartet

Performing full recital

Jeffrey Meyers, Violin
Ryan Meehan, Violin
Jeremy Berry, Viola
Estelle Choi, Cello

Artist Bio

The Calidore String Quartet – violinists Jeffrey Myers and Ryan Meehan, violist Jeremy Berry, and cellist Estelle Choi –  has been described by Gramophone as “the epitome of confidence and finesse,” and praised by the Los Angeles Times for its balance of “intellect and expression.” David Finckel of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center calls the Calidore a “dynamic and intelligent ensemble who have already demonstrated skill and maturity beyond their collective years, showing seemingly endless potential.” That potential has clearly come to fruition with recent accolades including the 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award and the 2016 and inaugural M-Prize International Chamber Music Competition Grand Prize, the largest prize for chamber music in the world. 

The 2016-17 season is the first of the Calidore’s three years in residence with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s prestigious CMS Two program.  In 2016, the quartet also became the first North American ensemble to win the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and was named BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists, an honor that brings with it recordings, international radio broadcasts and appearances in Britain’s most prominent venues, including London’s Wigmore Hall. 

In 2016 the quartet was named Visiting Guest Artists at the University of Delaware and will serve as Visiting Artists-in-Residence at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance. The Calidore String Quartet regularly performs throughout North America, Europe and Asia and has debuted in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Lincoln Center, Seoul’s Kumho Arts Hall, Schneider Concerts (NYC) and at many significant festivals, including Verbier, Ravinia, Mostly Mozart, Rheingau, East Neuk and Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

In addition to winning the M-Prize, the Calidore String Quartet won grand prizes in virtually all the major U.S. chamber music competitions, including the Fischoff, Coleman, Chesapeake, and Yellow Springs competitions and captured top prizes at the 2012 ARD Munich International String Quartet Competition and Hamburg International Chamber Music Competition.

As protégés of the Emerson Quartet, the Calidore String Quartet was featured in a performance of Mendelssohn’s octet with the Emerson Quartet presented be the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center to commemorate the Emerson’s 40th anniversary season. Other highlights of the 2016-17 season have included the quartet’s Chinese debut in Hong Kong as well as debuts on major series in Berlin, New York, Chicago, Houston, Portland and Ann Arbor, a world-premiere of a quartet by Pulitzer-prize winning composer Caroline Shaw at SOKA University and collaborations with David Shifrin, Anne-Marie McDermott as well as members of the Emerson, Borodin and Vogler String Quartets.

Summer 2016 included a return to the East Neuk Festival (UK) where the quartet performed the entire Mendelssohn String Quartet cycle. Additionally, the quartet made its debut at Music@Menlo and the Encore Chamber Music Festival and performed the closing concert of the McGill International String Quartet Academy. The quartet returned as quartet-in-residence for a third summer at both the Innsbrook Music Festival and the Bellingham Festival of Music.

In July of 2016, Hortus released the Calidore String Quartet’s second studio recording:  SERENADE: THE MUSICIANS & THE GREAT WAR 2, featuring music for String Quartet by Hindemith, Milhaud and Stravinsky, along with the world-premiere recording of Jacques de la Presle’s Suite en sol, and the second recording ever of Ernst Toch’s Serenade. In February 2015, the Calidore String Quartet released its critically-acclaimed debut recording of quartets by Mendelssohn and Haydn.  The Calidore were featured as Young Artists-in-Residence on American Public Media’s Performance Today and their performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio, BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Korean Broadcasting Corporation, Bayerischer Rundfunk (Munich), Norddeutscher Rundfunk (Hamburg), and were featured on German national television as part of a documentary produced by ARD public broadcasting.

The Calidore String Quartet has collaborated with many esteemed artists and ensembles, including Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Joshua Bell, Inon Barnatan, Paul Coletti, Ronald Leonard, Paul Watkins, Raphael Merlin and the Quatuor Ebéne, among others. Formed in 2010 at the Colburn School of Music, the Calidore has studied closely with such luminaries as the Emerson Quartet, David Finckel, Andre Roy, Arnold Steinhardt, Günther Pichler, Gerhard Schulz, Heime Müller, Guillaume Sutre, Gabor Takacs-Nagy, Paul Coletti, Ronald Leonard, Clive Greensmith, Martin Beaver and the Quatuor Ebène.

As a passionate supporter of music education, the Calidore String Quartet is deeply committed to mentoring and educating young musicians, students and audiences. From 2014-16 the Calidore served as Artists-in-Residence at Stony Brook University. The Calidore String Quartet has conducted master classes and residencies at Princeton, Stanford, the University of Michigan, UCLA and Mercer University. The Calidore was previously on the faculty of the Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute at the Colburn School.

Using an amalgamation of “California” and “doré” (French for “golden”), the ensemble’s name represents a reverence for the diversity of culture and the strong support it received from its home of origin, Los Angeles, California, the “golden state.” The Calidore String Quartet aims to present performances that share the passion and joy of the string quartet chamber music repertoire.

For more information about the Calidore String Quartet, please visit www.calidorestringquartet.com and www.facebook.com/calidorequartet.

Inon Barnatan, Piano

Performing Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2

Celebrated for the unique approach, probing intellect, and consummate artistry he brings to a broad range of repertoire, Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan currently serves as the first Artist-in-Association of the New York Philharmonic. This unprecedented three-season appointment sees him appear as soloist in subscription concerts, take part in regular chamber performances, and act as ambassador for the orchestra.

Artist Bio

“One of the most admired pianists of his generation” (New York Times), Inon Barnatan is celebrated for his poetic sensibility, musical intelligence, and consummate artistry. He was a recipient of Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award in 2015, recognizing “young artists of exceptional accomplishment,” as well as the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2009. He recently completed his third and final season as the inaugural Artist-in-Association of the New York Philharmonic. That position was created by former Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert, who calls Barnatan “the complete artist: a wonderful pianist, a probing intellect, passionately committed, and a capable contemporary-music pianist as well.” Gilbert and Barnatan have since collaborated numerous times and are in the process of recording the complete cycle of Beethoven piano concertos with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, marking that orchestra’s first complete recorded Beethoven concerto cycle.

The summer of 2017 saw Barnatan make his BBC Proms debut, playing Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G with conductor Kazushi Ono and the BBC Symphony in Royal Albert Hall. He also played the world premiere in Aspen of a new concerto by Alan Fletcher, and opens the 2017-18 season performing the same piece with the commissioning Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl under the baton of Ken-David Masur. Later in the season he will play it again with the Atlanta Symphony under Robert Spano. Another season highlight is a New Year’s Eve performance of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto in Minneapolis with the Minnesota Orchestra led by Osmo Vänskä, followed by a tour of the Midwest with the orchestra culminating at Chicago‘s Symphony Hall. He debuts with the London and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras; returns to the Cincinnati Orchestra to play the notoriously difficult Barber Piano Concerto; and plays solo recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall and South Bank Centre, New York’s 92nd Street Y, and the Vancouver Recital Society, among others. As a chamber musician he will curate and play in a multi-concert Schubert festival for La Jolla Music Society, and tour the U.S. and Europe with his frequent recital partner, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, including concerts at Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall.

A regular performer with many of the world’s most celebrated orchestras and conductors, the pianist’s 2016-17 season included debuts with the Chicago, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Seattle, Nashville, San Diego and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras; and returns to many other orchestras and venues around the U.S. He made debuts with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Hong Kong Philharmonic, returned to Tokyo with the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, and performed a complete Beethoven piano concerto cycle in Marseilles. He toured the U.S. twice, once with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, playing and conducting Mozart and Shostakovich concertos from the keyboard and premiering a newly commissioned concerto by Alasdair Nicolson, and again with Alisa Weilerstein and New York Philharmonic principal clarinetist Anthony McGill, in a program that included the world premiere of a new work by the young American composer Joseph Hallman.

Highlights of recent seasons include his Walt Disney Hall debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel; performances of Copland’s jazz-inflected Piano Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas in San Francisco and at Carnegie Hall; a debut with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic; performances with the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon; and solo recital debuts at the Celebrity Series of Boston and the Harris Theater in Chicago. He also collaborated with choreographer Mark Morris and pianist Garrick Ohlsson in a string of performances by the Mark Morris Dance company at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York.

A sought-after chamber musician, Barnatan was a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s “CMS Two” program from 2006 to 2009, and is still a regular performer on CMS programs at home in New York and on tour. His passion for contemporary music has led him to commission and perform many works by living composers, including premieres of works by Thomas Adès, Sebastian Currier, Avner Dorman, Matthias Pintscher, Alasdair Nicolson, Andrew Norman and others.

Barnatan’s latest album release is a live recording of Messiaen’s 90-minute masterpiece, Des canyons aux étoiles (“From the Canyons to the Stars”), in which he played the exceptionally challenging solo piano part with an ensemble conducted by Alan Gilbert at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Last October the pianist released Rachmaninov & Chopin: Cello Sonatas on Decca Classics with Alisa Weilerstein, which earned rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. His most recent solo album, featuring Schubert’s late piano sonatas, was released by Avie in September 2013. It garnered praise from such publications as Gramophone and BBC Music, and his rendition of the great A major Sonata, D. 959 from the disc was chosen by BBC Radio 3 as one of the all-time best recordings of this piece. His 2012 album, Darknesse Visible, debuted in the Top 25 of the Billboard Traditional Classical chart in its first week of release and received universal critical acclaim, being named BBC Music‘s “Instrumentalist CD of the Month” and winning a coveted place on the New York Times‘s “Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012” list. His debut solo recording of Schubert piano works, released by Bridge Records in 2006, prompted Gramophone to hail him as “a born Schubertian” and London’s Evening Standard to call him “a true poet of the keyboard: refined, searching, unfailingly communicative.”

Born in Tel Aviv in 1979, Inon Barnatan started playing the piano at the age of three after his parents discovered he had perfect pitch. He made his orchestral debut at eleven. His musical education connects him to some of the 20th century’s most illustrious pianists and teachers: he studied first with Professor Victor Derevianko, who, himself, studied with the Russian master Heinrich Neuhaus; and in 1997 he moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Maria Curcio – a student of the legendary Artur Schnabel – and with Christopher Elton. Leon Fleisher has also been an influential teacher and mentor. Barnatan currently resides in New York City. For more information about Inon Barnatan visit<href=”http://www.inonbarnatan.com.” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>inonbarnatan.com

Narek Hakhnazaryan, Cello

Tchaikovsky Competition Winner performs Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations

Since winning the Cello First Prize and Gold Medal at the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2011 at the age of 22, Narek Hakhnazaryan has performed with most major orchestras across the globe and has established himself internationally as one of the finest cellists of his generation. Hakhnazaryan has earned critical acclaim world-wide, with The Strad describing him as “dazzlingly brilliant” and the Washington Post hailing him “a seasoned phenomenon.” From 2014-2016 he joined the prestigious BBC New Generation Artists scheme and in August 2016 he made his BBC Proms debut; The Times described his performance as “a perfectly honed signature, every flourish and curl executed with elegant ease” and The Guardian said that he “displayed his outstanding musicianship with a technically impeccable and distinctive account”.

Artist Bio

Hakhnazaryan has performed with orchestras such as the Orchestre de Paris, London Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio, NHK Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic orchestras, and with conductors such as Gergiev, Hrusa, Koopman, Neemi Järvi, Pletnev, Slatkin, Sokhiev, Robertson, Bělohlávek, and Guerrero. He made a hugely successful debut with the LA Philharmonic/Lionel Bringuier at the Hollywood Bowl in 2015 and toured Spain with the WDR Symphony/Jukka-Pekka Saraste in the same year.

An eager chamber and recital performer Hakhnazaryan has played in halls such as the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Salle Pleyel Paris, Wigmore Hall, Berlin Konzerthaus, Vienna Konzerthaus, Oji Hall Tokyo, Shanghai Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Jordan Hall (Boston) and at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Beethovenfest Bonn, Ravinia, Aspen, Piatigorsky, Mikkeli, Pau Casals, Lucerne and Verbier Festivals amongst many others.

Highlights of Hakhnazaryan’s 2016/17 season included debuts with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Berlin Konzerthaus, Netherlands Philharmonic, Utah Symphony, Teatro Dell’Opera (Rome), Munich Chamber, Essen Philharmonic orchestras and returns to the BBC Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony orchestras, Orchestre della Toscana and to the Warsaw Easter Festival. In recital, Hakhnazaryan will perform in cities such as London, Lugano and Eindhoven and in Summer 2017 he tours SE Asia with concerts in Taipei, Seoul, Kyoto and Tokyo.

Narek Hakhnazaryan was born in Yerevan, Armenia, into a family of musicians: his father is a violinist and his mother a pianist. Mentored by the late Rostropovich, Hakhnazaryan received an Artist Diploma from the New England Conservatory of Music in 2011 where he studied with Laurence Lesser. Prior to this he studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Alexey Seleznyov and at the Sayat-Nova School of Music in Yerevan with Zareh Sarkisyan. Hakhnazaryan has received scholarships from the Rostropovich Foundation and the Russian Performing Arts Fund, and his prizes include First Prize in the 2006 Aram Khachaturian International Competition in Armenia and First Place in the 2006 Johansen International Competition for Young String Players. As First Prize winner in the 2008 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Hakhnazaryan made his debut in Washington, DC and at Carnegie Hall. Hakhnazaryan plays the 1707 Joseph Guarneri cello and F.X. Tourte bow.

Simone Porter, Violin

Performing Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1

Violinist Simone Porter has been recognized as an emerging artist of impassioned energy, musical integrity, and vibrant sound.  After performing with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the 2015-16 season, the Los Angeles Times declared Ms. Porter “on the cusp of a major career.”  Elsewhere, her performances have been described as “bold,” (Seattle Times) and “virtuosic,” (London Times) and at 19 years of age, Ms. Porter has already appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Houston Symphony, and Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the baton of renowned conductors including Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Nicolas McGegan, Ludovic Morlot, and Donald Runnicles. Ms. Porter made her professional solo debut at age 10 with the Seattle Symphony and her international debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at age 13.

Artist Bio

In June 2016, Simone Porter was featured at the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award: A Tribute to John Williams in a solo performance of music from Schindler’s List with Maestro Gustavo Dudamel and members of the American Youth Symphony; this featured program was broadcast nationally on the TNT Network. Summer 2016 also brought her debut at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival performing Mozart with Louis Langree, and return engagements to both the Aspen Festival with Nicolas McGegan and Grand Teton Festival with Donald Runnicles. The 2016-2017 season included Ms. Porter’s debuts with the San Diego Symphony and Charles Dutoit, the Pittsburgh Symphony and Leonard Slatkin, and the New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall. She also enjoys engagements with the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Vancouver, Indianapolis, Nashville, Utah, and Edmonton Symphonies.

Simone Porter was named a recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant in March 2015. This prestigious honor came in a year that included return engagements with the Seattle Symphony and the Aspen Music Festival, her solo debut with Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira, a Ravinia Festival recital debut, and a performance in Bogota, Colombia with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra. The 2015-2016 season marked her return to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, this time on the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage with Maestro Dudamel and her debuts with the Detroit, Berkeley and Des Moines Symphonies; Baltimore and Hartford Symphony Orchestras; Rochester Philharmonic; and Florida Orchestra. NPR’s Performance Today also named her as Young-Artist-in-Residence for fall 2015.

Ms. Porter is an avid chamber musician, having most recently collaborated with violinist James Ehnes at a benefit concert in Zipper Hall in Los Angeles. Additionally, she appeared on multiple occasions on the Colburn Chamber Music Society Series at Zipper Hall with violinists Arnold Steinhardt and Scott St. John, on the South Bay Chamber Music Society with violist Paul Coletti, and at the Miami International Piano Festival. 

Ms. Porter has been heard on the syndicated NPR radio program From the Top, hosted by acclaimed pianist Christopher O’Riley and featuring America’s best young classical musicians. Her performance in July 2012 marked her third appearance on the program; her first was in 2007 at the age of 11.  She has also been featured on the popular national APM radio program Performance Today, recorded live at Aspen’s Harris Hall in 2011.  Ms. Porter made her Carnegie Hall debut on the Emmy Award-winning TV show From the Top: Live from Carnegie Hall.  Other TV appearances include the BBC documentary The World’s Greatest Musical Prodigies, which aired in the United Kingdom in June 2009, and a feature on Seattle’s Kiro 7 TV’s Quarterly Magazine, In Color. 

The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Ms. Porter is a 2011 Davidson Fellow Laureate, an award given by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, which carries a $50,000 scholarship to further her musical education. In 2009, she was presented as an Emerging Young Artist by the Seattle Chamber Music Society.

Raised in Seattle, Washington, Ms. Porter studied with Margaret Pressley as a recipient of the Dorothy Richard Starling Scholarship, and was then admitted into the studio of the renowned pedagogue Robert Lipsett, with whom she presently studies at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles. Summer studies have included the Aspen Music Festival for seven years, Indiana University’s Summer String Academy, and the Schlern International Music Festival in Italy.

Simone Porter plays on a 1745 J.B. Guadagnini violin on generous loan from The Mandell Collection of Southern California.

Maria Valdes, Soprano

Performing Poulenc: Gloria

American soprano Maria Valdes has been praised for her “silvery tone, glassily smooth phrasing, and fine-caliber dynamics.” (San Francisco Classical Voice) The 2017-2018 season sees Ms. Valdes make her debut with Opera San José as Despina in Così fan tutte and Lisette in La rondine. She will also make her company debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis as Amore in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. On the concert stage, Valdes performs Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the California Symphony. She will also be heard with the Phoenix Symphony as the soprano soloist in Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem. Valdes then returns to the Bellingham Festival of Music to sing Poulenc’s Gloria. 

Artist Bio

Ms. Valdes finished out the 2016-2017 season with a return to San Francisco Opera to cover the role of Gilda in Rigoletto, where she stepped in for one performance. She was recently heard as a distinguished alumna of the SongFest program in a solo recital of Nordic, Spanish and Latin American music. Other season highlights included performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate with both the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Chattanooga Symphony, and with Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra singing Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and the West Coast premiere of Scott Ordway’s “Tonight We Tell the Secrets of the World.” She also performed Handel’s Messiah with Concert Royal at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, singing the soprano arias “beautifully, growing stronger as the evening progressed.”(The New York Times)

 Most notably from the 2015-2016 season, Valdes made her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut covering Juliette in Roméo et Juliette immediately upon finishing her tenure as an Adler Fellow with San Francisco Opera. Throughout the two-year fellowship she performed the roles of Musetta in La Bohème, Papagena in Die Zauberflöte, Clorinda in La Cenerentola, and Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro. Covers included Johanna in Sweeney Todd, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, Magnolia in Showboat and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, which she also performed in 2013 as member of that company’s Merola Program.

 An accomplished recitalist, Valdes has appeared in concert with Martin Katz, as well as world-renowned flamenco guitarist Pepe Romero. She made her New York recital debut with New York Festival of Song, performing with Steven Blier and Michael Barrett in Compositora, a recital of female Latin American composers. Of her performance, The New York Times praised Ms. Valdes for her interpretation of the repertoire with “keening clarity.”  She also attended the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival which included several concert appearances. Ms. Valdes can be heard singing Mendelssohn’s “Hear My Prayer” on the album “Evening Hymn” released by Gothic Records and acclaimed in American Record Guide. 

An award-winner in the regional Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, Maria Valdes is also the winner of the top prize at the Corbett Opera Scholarship Competition at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and is the recipient of a Shoshana Foundation Grant. She is a native of Atlanta.