James Moore speaks with Ashu about his concert this weekend at the Sondheim Center Saturday, October 16th at 8pm with pianist Kuang-Hao Huang.
Concert saxophonist Ashu, age 26, has continually defied conventions winning major international and national competitions traditionally won by pianists and violinists. He made his recital debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Hall in New York and, at age 16, made his concerto debut at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Since then, concerto and recital performances have taken him throughout the USA and Europe.
With a dynamic style that captivates audiences, and a repertoire ranging from original works by Ibert, Debussy, and Villa-Lobos to his own arrangements of Piazzolla, Rachmaninoff, and Morricone, Ashu has shown that the concert saxophone can reach beyond stylistic categorization and to a large diversity of people. His playing has been described as "Riveting...Brilliant...Pizzazz to burn!" (National Public Radio Performance Today host) and "...just as much fun to watch him as it is to listen to him." (Dallas Morning News). [Read more below.]Born and raised in California, Ashu has won First Prizes at competitions including the International Heida Hermanns, International Kingsville Wind Instrumentalist, National Federation of Music Clubs, National Midland-Odessa, National Lennox, National George S. Howard, and Houston Symphony Concerto Competitions. Ashu graduated from Northwestern University and is currently based in Chicago. For more information, please visit his website at www.ashuonline.com.
Pianist Kuang-Hao Huang enjoys an active career of performing and teaching. He has performed throughout the United States as well as in England, France, China and South Korea. As a soloist, he has performed with the New World Symphony Orchestra, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and has been heard on Chicago’s Dame Myra Hess Memorial Series (WFMT 98.7 FM).
Mr. Huang is also an active collaborator, performing concerts and radio broadcasts with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and as a regular guest of the Chicago Chamber Musicians. He has performed with the Vermeer and Chicago String Quartets and on Ravinia’s Rising Stars series.
An advocate of new music, Mr. Huang gave the world premiere performances of works by Louis Andriessen and Chen Yi at Weill Hall as part of Carnegie Hall’s Millennium Piano Book Project. He has also premiered works by Stacy Garrop, John Harbison, Alexandra Karastoyanova-Hermentin, Daniel Kellogg, Rami Levin, James Matheson and Laura Schwendinger. He has been involved with the Chicago Chamber Musicians Composer Perspectives series since its inception in 2001 and has had the opportunity to work with many of the world’s foremost composers, including Pierre Boulez and John Corigliano. Mr. Huang has also performed with Fulcrum Point and MusicNOW.
Mr. Huang serves on the adjunct faculties of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, Concordia University-Chicago and the Merit School of Music. As a member of the International Music Foundation’s Bootinsky Piano Trio, he presents educational outreach programs throughout the Chicago Public Schools. During the summer, he coordinates the piano program at Northwestern University’s National High School Music Institute and has also served on the faculty of the Mimir Chamber Music Festival at TCU in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Mr. Huang has degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University and Northwestern University. His principal teachers include Leonard Hokanson, Joseph Kalichstein, Howard Karp, Rita Sloan and Sylvia Wang. During the 1996-97 season, he was a member of the New World Symphony.
A native of Whitewater, Wisconsin, Mr. Huang currently resides in Oak Park, Illinois.