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Z.E.N. is an acronym of the first name initials of these three talented young artists. Pianist Zhang Zuo (also known as “Zee Zee”) and cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan have both made appearances on our Next Generation Series. They were introduced to violinist Esther Yoo through the BBC’s New Generation Artists Scheme in 2015, and found that they loved performing together as a trio. ‘Zen’ also represents the philosophy with which they approach chamber music making — the forgoing of the self for total togetherness.

SCHUBERT: Notturno in E-flat major, Op. 148
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Trio No. 2
BRAHMS: Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8

“I love playing for the VRS. Such warm audiences, great venue, great host — I’m always looking forward to going back!”
— Zhang Zuo

“All three of us are greatly looking forward to performing at the VRS.” — Esther Yoo & Narek Hakhnazaryan


Learn more about each afternoon’s recital program at our pre-concert talks. Each talk takes place at 2.15pm in Salon A. 


Concert Sponsor: The Board of Directors of the Vancouver Recital Society

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This quartet is very much a family affair, with three German brothers, Mark, Eric, and Ken Schumann, playing alongside Estonian-born violist Liisa Randalu. Those who experience the quartet in performance often remark on the strong connection between its members. The quartet has garnered rave reviews from critics and received the 2016 Newcomer Award at the BBC Music Magazine Awards in London for their recording “Mozart Ives Verdi”. The ensemble’s openness and curiosity may be partly the result of the formative influence exerted on them by teachers such as Eberhard Feltz, the Alban Berg Quartet, or partners such as Menahem Pressler.

Vancouver debut!

MOZART: Quartet in D major, K. 499 “Hoffmeister”
SHOSTAKOVICH: Quartet No. 9 in E-flat major, Op. 117
MENDELSSOHN: Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2

“It is a great pleasure for us to congratulate the Vancouver Recital Society on its 40th Anniversary. We feel honoured to be part of this important season for the Society and are very much looking forward to sharing our music with the people of Vancouver on March 1st 2020, which will be also our Vancouver debut. Can’t wait to come and play! Many warm greetings from Germany and see you all at the concert!” — Schumann Quartet


Learn more about the musicians when they return to the stage to answer your questions following their performance.


Series sponsor: The Estate of Edwina and Paul Heller

Concert Sponsor: Lynn Kagan

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Despite their tender ages (26 and 22 respectively), Dutch brothers Lucas and Arthur Jussen have been part of the international concert world for years, winning praise from critics and audiences alike. If you were in the audience for their stunning debut with the VSO last season, you’ll understand why there’s such a ‘buzz’ about this duo. A not-to-be missed performance!

BACH/KURTÁG: Selections from the chorale preludes
MENDELSSOHN: Andante & Allegro Brillante, Op. 92 in A major
SCHUBERT: Fantasie in F minor, D. 940
LEO SMIT: Divertimento
RAVEL: “Ma Mère l’Oye”, cinq pièces enfantines
FAZIL SAY: “Night”

“Since we made our debut in Vancouver with the VSO, we are really looking forward to returning to Vancouver. It’s an honour and big pleasure that we can play for the Vancouver Recital Society. Many great pianists have played for the VRS, pianists who we look up to, so we are excited to be part of it.”
 — Lucas and Arthur Jussen


Learn more about the musicians when they return to the stage to answer your questions following their performance.


Series sponsor: The Estate of Edwina and Paul Heller

Concert Sponsor: Ann Harding

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When Leila discovered the enormously talented (then) 16 year-old George at the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York in 2010, his even younger brother Andrew was in the audience. In chatting with the Li family, it became apparent that Andrew was following in his brother’s footsteps. And here we are, 10 years later, with an internationally acclaimed young pianist and a brother who’s set for a similar career path.

This lovely program is a mix of one piano four hands, piano solo, and two pianos. It offers a unique opportunity to see the artists’ hands… no matter where in the hall your seat is located!

MOZART: Sonata in D major, K. 381 piano four hands
RACHMANINOV: Fantaisie Tableaux for two pianos, Op. 5
LISZT: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 (George Li)
DEBUSSY: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune for two pianos
LISZT: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 (Andrew Li)
RAVEL: La Valse for 2 pianos

“It is both a thrill and privilege to appear in the Vancouver Recital Society’s 40th Season. The series has been an integral part of my career; it was Leila who heard me play at the YCA auditions when I was 16 and took the risk of inviting me to play in her prestigious series. I’ve also developed strong bonds and relationships with the audience here in Vancouver. Returning with my brother feels like a homecoming of sorts, and I’m very excited to be a part of this very special season.” — George Li


Learn more about the musicians when they return to the stage to answer your questions following their performance.


Series sponsor: The Estate of Edwina and Paul Heller

Concert Sponsor: The John C. Kerr Family Foundation

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We can’t think of a more wonderful way to open our 40th Season than by bringing these three illustrious musicians back to our stage. Since the beginning of their careers, Nikki, Timmy, and Angela have been frequent visitors to the VRS and all have a deep connection to our organization. And speaking of “dreams come true”… in the early stages of putting this concert together, Leila had a dream that Marc-André Hamelin wrote a piece especially for the occasion. Enjoy its debut performance!

DEBUSSY: Sonata for Violin and Piano (1917)
SHOSTAKOVICH: 5 Pieces for Two Violins and Piano
HAMELIN: “Reverie” for Two Violins and Piano
CHAMINADE: Theme and Variations, Op. 89 for Piano
FRANCK: Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano

“Congratulations, Leila, for your dedication to the Vancouver Recital Society over the past four decades. You have been such an important force in bringing the best artists from around the world for the people in Vancouver. You have also helped cultivate new generations of talent along the way, from within Canada and abroad, introducing them to some of their first professional opportunities to the public. I am grateful to have met you early on in my career (as a teenager, in fact!) and that you have been a supportive voice throughout my many different adventures. I am ecstatic to return to the VRS, this time with my brother, Timothy, and the great pianist, Angela Cheng, to launch its 40th Anniversary Season. It will be a very special event for all of us!” — Nikki Chooi

“Congratulations on your 40th Anniversary, Leila and the VRS!!! I’m so thrilled that you have reached this important and impressive landmark, especially in today’s somewhat troubled times of our classical music world! It just proves that, under the leadership of someone who is passionate, inspiring and devoted, great music can flourish!! I guess what we need to do is to clone you, Leila, and place you everywhere in the world so that there is a bright and promising future for beautiful music. I’m so excited and honoured to not only be a part of your 40th Anniversary season, but to open your season! Thank you from the bottom of my heart and I can’t wait to come play for you!! Congratulations again!!!”
— Angela Cheng


Learn more about the musicians when they return to the stage to answer your questions following their performance.


Series sponsor: The Estate of Edwina and Paul Heller

Concert Sponsor: The Martha Lou Henley Charitable Foundation

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The Danish String Quartet has established a reputation for their integrated sound, impeccable intonation, and judicious balance. With their technical and interpretive talents matched by an infectious joy for music-making and “rampaging energy” (The New Yorker), the quartet is in demand worldwide by concert and festival presenters alike. This is their third appearance for the VRS.

“They could be grounded in their tone or mystical. They allowed time to stand still, and they could assume the pose of excitingly aggressive rockers. They did it all.” — The Los Angeles Times

BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in C minor, Op. 18, No. 4
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 74, No. 10 (“Harp”)

Series Sponsor:

Concert Sponsor: Joyce and Tony

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22 year-old pianist Filippo Gorini is praised for his rare intellect, temperament, and vivid imagination. In 2015, he received both the First Prize and the Audience Prize at the Telekom Beethoven Competition in Bonn. Upon hearing him perform Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, Alfred Brendel invited this gifted young Italian to study with him. In 2017, Filippo’s debut album — his recording of the Diabelli Variations — was released. It has already won a Diapason d’Or award.

In a 5-star review of his Diabelli Variations recording, The Guardian’s Kate Molleson wrote: “It is brave, original playing for a musician of any age.”

BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 31, Op. 110
BARTÓK: Sonata Sz. 80
STOCKHAUSEN: Klavierstück IX
BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 32, Op. 111

Series sponsor: The Estate of Edwina and Paul Heller

Concert Sponsor: Judith and Poul Hansen

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American soprano Julia Bullock has been hailed as an “impressive fast-rising soprano poised for a signicant career” (The New York Times). Equally at home in recital and concert repertoire, she captivates audiences with her versatile artistry and commanding stage presence.


“Julia Bullock combines a rare on stage aura with a style that is exacting but not fussy, with hardly an unturned phrase” — The New Yorker

Series Sponsor: The Estate of Edwina and Paul Heller

Concert Sponsor: Gaby and Yoram Minnes

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Sir Simon Keenlyside is one of the world’s most sought-after and charismatic singers, noted for his versatility and highly charged performances on stage. In 2006, he was the winner of the Olivier Award for outstanding achievement in opera, the ECHO Klassik Male Singer of the Year Award in 2007, and was honoured as Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year in 2011. Last June he was awarded the title of Österreichischer Kammersänger by the Wiener Staatsoper, recognizing his extraordinary contribution to the world of opera. We eagerly await his return to Vancouver with his wonderful recital partner Malcolm Martineau, who is well known to VRS audiences.


“He declaimed Wilhelm Müller’s poetry with the fluidity of speech. His German is excellent, his diction is pristine, his eye for detail acute. Armed with his dark, handsome baritone he unveiled multiple layers of meaning in every song, every stanza and occasionally,in a single line”— The Financial Times

Series Sponsor:

Concert Sponsor: Lynn Kagan

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Igor Levit was recently announced as the winner of the prestigious quadrennial Gilmore Artist Award, and snagged Gramophone’s Recording of the Year 2016. He returns to the VRS stage after a sold-out Canadian debut in 2016. His riveting performances leave audiences wanting more and critics scrambling for superlatives.

“He hit the first note and the sheer depth and resonant sovereignty of his tone engulfed a monumental space.” — The LA Times

This program, curated by Igor Levit, explores the interrelationship between composer and arranger.

J.S. BACH: Chaconne in D minor, BWV 1004 arr. Brahms
BUSONI: Fantasia after J.S. Bach KiV 253
SCHUMANN: Ghost Variations WoO 24
WAGNER: Parsifal: Solemn March to the Holy Grail arr. Liszt
LISZT: Fantasy and Fugue on the chorale, “Ad nos ad salutarem undam” arr. Busoni

In Association With:


The Chan Endowment Fund
at the University of British Columbia