The Union County Performing Arts Center is hosting An Evening of Excellence featuring classical performers from the internationally acclaimed Concert Artists Guild on March 10. This event is sponsored in part by Covanta Energy and will feature mezzo-soprano Naomi Lousia O’Connell, clarinetist Yoonah Kim, pianist Ko-Eun Yi, and double bassist Sam Suggs.
Hailed by The New York Times as “radiant,” Irish performer Naomi Louisa O’Connell made her professional stage debut in 2012 starring on London’s West End in Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play Master Class in the role of Sharon Graham, an aspiring young opera singer opposite Tyne Daly who portrayed Maria Callas. The Times called her performance “…spectacular,” and The Independent lauded her “…thrilling rendering of an aria from Verdi’s Macbeth.” Born to Irish/German parents in County Clare, Ireland, Naomi Louisa O’Connell began her studies with Archie Simpson and is an alumna of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, where she studied with voice teacher Mary Brennan. She holds a Master of Music degree and an Artist Diploma in Opera Studies from The Juilliard School where she studied with voice teachers Dr. Robert White and Marlena Malas and acting teacher Stephen Wadsworth. Naomi is currently based in New York City where she lives with her husband and enjoys writing, yoga, telling terrible jokes and yearning after her neighbor’s dogs.
Yoonah Kim is rapidly earning acclaim as a young clarinetist on the rise. In 2016 she joined the roster of Concert Artist Guild as their first solo clarinetist since 1987, and became the first woman to win first place at the Vandoren Emerging Artist competition. She is also a member of Ensemble Connect, the resident ensemble of Carnegie Hall. Born in Seoul and raised in British Columbia, Yoonah Kim holds a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Mannes College of Music at The New School, where she studied clarinet under Charles Neidich.
Korean pianist Ko-Eun Yi, has earned praise for playing with “élan and fire and a surplus of bravura technique” (Cincinnati Enquirer). She has garnered numerous top prizes in her young career, including First Prize victories at the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati and the Wideman International Piano Competition in Jackson, Mississippi (both in 2010). The Washington Post applauded her recent debut recital in DC: “a masterful technician … Her finger-work was immaculate, inner voices were keenly drawn out, and there was no lack of power when needed.” Born in Seoul, Korea, Ko-Eun Yi began her piano studies at age three. She earned her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at The Juilliard School studying with Jerome Lowenthal and completed her Professional Studies degree with André-Michel Schub at Manhattan School of Music. In December 2017, she earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Stony Brook University School of Music, as a student of Christina Dahl.
Sam Suggs was named Concert Artists Guild’s New Music/New Places Fellow at the 2016 CAG International Competition, making him first double bassist in thirty-six years to join the CAG roster: “What Suggs proceeded to play quite simply boggled the mind.” (Oregon Arts Watch). Currently Assistant Professor of Jazz and Classical Bass at James Madison University, Sam Suggs received a Presser Foundation Award and Dean’s Prize for the highest level of excellence at the Yale School of Music during his doctoral studies. A native of Buffalo, NY, he earned honors studying music theory and cognition at Northwestern University while working as the youngest principal bassist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, as well as a substitute for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW contemporary ensemble, and in various outreach programs including coaching the Carlos Chavez Youth Orchestra (including performing alongside Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax).
Tickets are available for purchase at www.ucpac.org/events. Tickets may also be purchased in person by visiting the Main Stage Box Office. The Box Office can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 732.499.8226. The Union County Performing Arts Center is easily accessible to major roads and public transportation.