Leon Fleisher & Family
Leon Fleisher – Conductor and Piano
Katherine Fleisher – Piano
Dickie Fleisher, Kayo Ishimaru,
Deborah Fleisher, Leah Fleisher – Harp soloists
Beethoven – Coriolan Overture, Op. 62
Mozart – Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in F Major, K. 242 "Lodron"
Nicholas Jacobson-Larson – Fantasia for Four Harps and Orchestra
Beethoven – Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36
For legendary pianist Leon Fleisher, music is a family affair. Joined by his wife and children for a program that includes Mozart’s “Lodron” concerto and the world premiere of a new work for four harps and orchestra by Nicholas Jacobson-Larson, who in addition to being Fleisher’s nephew, is an ASCAP Foundation Michelle and Dean Kay Award recipient and important emerging voice in composition for the screen, stage and concert hall.
Fleisher, who turned to conducting when he lost use of his right hand in the mid-1960s, will also lead the orchestra in performances of Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Symphony No. 2. A buoyant and vital work, described by Berlioz as “smiling throughout,” the Second Symphony belies the composer’s deep, near-suicidal depression over the deterioration of his hearing. Both the symphony and Fleisher’s own decades-long, ultimately successful journey to regain the use of his right hand are testaments to the life-affirming power of music and the solace it can provide.
Legendary pianist Leon Fleisher represents the highest standard of musicianship and continues to impart his life-affirming artistry throughout the world, thriving in a career as a conductor, pianist and educator.
Fleisher made his debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1944, and in 1952, became the first American to win the prestigious Queen Elisabeth of Belgium competition, establishing him as one of the world’s premier classical pianists.
At the height of his success, he was struck silent with a neurological affliction later identified as focal dystonia, rendering two fingers on his right hand immobile. Rather than end his career, Fleisher began focusing on repertoire for the left hand only, conducting and teaching. Not until some forty years later was he able to return to playing with both hands after undergoing a series of experimental treatments.
A recipient of numerous honors and awards, Fleisher received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor in 2007. In 2006 he was the subject of the Oscar- and Emmy-nominated documentary film Two Hands.
Katherine Jacobson Fleisher
Katherine Jacobson Fleisher
A Minnesota native, pianist Katherine Jacobson Fleisher's performing career as soloist, duo pianist and chamber musician has received international critical acclaim. Her Carnegie Hall debut in 2004 with piano duo partner Leon Fleisher was praised in the New York Times for its "abundant musicality and refined technique."
Orchestras with which she has performed as soloist include the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia, New York String Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Osaka Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National d'lle de France, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Gulbenkian Orchestra of Portugal, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Festival Chamber Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Duluth Symphony Orchestra and the Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira.
Together with Leon Fleisher, she recorded the Concerto for Two Pianos, K. 242 by W.A. Mozart with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra (Sony Records, 2009).
Dickie Fleisher, Naples Philharmonic principal harp, began studying the harp at the age of ten. His first teacher was his grandmother, Nettie Druzinsky, who was the accompanist for fan dancer Sally Rand. After graduating from the University of Miami, Fleisher joined the Naples Philharmonic and the Miami City Ballet orchestra. Fleisher was the principal harpist with the Nagoya (Japan) Symphony, the Orchestra of the Mineria (Mexico) and the Natonal Symphony of the Dominican Republic. He is the son of pianist Leon Fleisher and nephew of Edward Druzinsky, former principal harpist with the Chicago Symphony. Fleisher's two sisters are harpists in Miami and Washington and his wife, Kayo Ishimaru, is the harpist with the Jacksonville Symphony and the Grant Park Symphony.
In the summer Fleisher is the harp mentor at the National Music Festival.
Dickie Fleisher is underwritten by Jane P. Berger.
Kayo Ishimaru is enjoying her 26th season as principal harpist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. A native of Osaka, Japan, Ms. Ishimaru began her musical studies on piano at age three, and transferred to harp at age ten. She continued her formal study at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. With a scholarship from the French government, she studied at the renowned Paris Conservatory, where she was awarded the coveted Premier Prix.
Ms. Ishimaru also serves as principal harpist with Chicago's Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, a position she has held since 1991. She has performed with many orchestras including the St. Louis Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, NHK Symphony Orchestra and The Tokyo Philharmonic. She has appeared in concertos, solo recitals, recording and harp ensembles in Europe, Japan and the United States. Ms. Ishimaru is the harp professor at Jacksonville University and University of North Florida. She has written extensive duo harp arrangements with her husband Dickie Fleisher.
Deborah Fleisher began her harp studies with her grandmother, Nettie Druzinsky at age seven. She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music where she studied with Marilyn Costello, and received an Artists Diploma from the Peabody Institute as a student of Ruth Inglefield. Deborah has studied with Alice Chalifoux, Gloria Agostini as well as her uncle, Edward Druzinsky of the Chicago Symphony.
Deborah was the harpist with the Baltimore Opera, Delaware Symphony, Concert Artists of Baltimore, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet and Florida Sunshine Pops. For the past several years Deborah has served as harp adjudicator for the YoungArts Foundation, is currently harp editor for the American String Teachers Association Journal and a member of the most recent USA International Harp Competition Contemporary Music search committee. Deborah is on the Frost School faculty at the University of Miami as lecturer in the department of Instrumental Performance and harp mentor at the summer Hot Springs Music Festival.
Leah Fleisher began the study of harp and piano as a child with her grandmother, Nettie Druzinsky. As a member of a musical family she has been coached on harp from an early age by her brother Dickie, sister Deborah and sister-in-law Kayo. Leah has performed with the Miami City Ballet, and as a freelance musician in the United States, Europe and Fiji, as soloist and in classical and jazz ensembles, including with her brother Julian Fleisher. Leah is also a practicing licensed physical therapist in Maryland, and teaches workshops on Injury Prevention for Musicians, including at the Carnegie Hall Weil Institute, Kennedy Center Summer Music Institute, Aspen Music Festival, New York String Orchestra Seminar, National Orchestral Institute, and the Suntory Institute in Tokyo.