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First Fridays at First! ~ fff ~ Current Season

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~ present ~
First Fridays at First! ~ fff
(Formerly, the
Bach's Lunch Recitals in Manhattan Beach)

2015-2016 Concert Series

First Lutheran Church of Torrance

The popular Bach's Lunch Recitals, a favorite in the South Bay community for two decades, are now First Fridays at First! ~ fff, graciously hosted as a gift to the community by FirstServe Community Services, the nonprofit community service partner organization of First Lutheran Church & School – Torrance. The finest artists from Southern California and around the World perform half-hour lunchtime recitals.

First Lutheran Church & School
2900 W. Carson Street, Torrance, CA 90503
(on the south side of Carson Street just east of Maple)
For a Google map, click here.

For information, call Classical Crossroads at (310) 316-5574 or click here.

Free admission - Donations Appreciated

Click to see "First Fridays at First! ~ fff" past seasons:
[2000-2013] [2013-2014] [2014-2015] [2015-2016]
[2016-2017] [2017-2018] [2018-2019] [2019-2020]
[2020-2021] [2021-2022] [2022-2023]

Friday, October 2, 2015 at 12:15 p.m.

Ensemble-in-Residence at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine


Trio CÚleste

                              IRYNA KRECHKOVSKY violin
ROSS GASWORTH cello                                    

Based in Orange County, Trio Céleste was appointed Ensemble-in-Residence at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine. The Trio has already taken on several large-scale projects, including performances of the complete Beethoven Trios and performances of Beethoven's Triple Concerto with the UCI Symphony Orchestra in June of 2012. The Trio is the principal Ensemble-in-Residence at the new series, Chamber Music OC. This performance will feature the famed 1689 "Baumgartner" Stradivari violin on loan to Iryna from the Canada Council for the Arts.

In the afternoon, Trio Céleste  will perform an assembly outreach concert for the students of First Lutheran Church & School – Torrance.

Trio Céleste performs 3rd movement of Beethoven's Archduke Trio

Free admission - Donations Appreciated

Friday, November 6, 2015 at 12:15 p.m.

2015 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition
Senior Division Silver Medalists!


Calla Quartet

Karissa Zadinsky cello                                              
Amelia Dietrich violin      
Michaela Wellems violin
Aiden Kane viola

The fast-rising Calla Quartet from the Colburn Conservatory, where they are coached by former members of the famed Tokyo Quartet, Martin Beaver and Clive Greensmith, and first violinist of the legendary Guarneri Quartet, Arnold Steinhardt, took the Silver Medal of the 2015 Fischoff Competition, the nation's leading competition for chamber music ensembles. (High definition Calla Fischoff performances posted here.) Calla was selected to participate in the 2015 Perlman Music Program's Chamber Music Workshop; as well as the Mimir Chamber Music Festival in both Fort Worth, Texas and Melbourne, Australia, as part of the Emerging Artists program.

Josef Haydn: String Quartet in C Major, Op.50 No.2 ~ Finale: Vivace assai

Free admission - Donations Appreciated  

Friday, December 4, 2015 at 12:15 p.m.

The Organist & The Director of Music
at Westwood Presbyterian Church

Namhee Han, organ  Maria Newman, violin

       Organist                          Violinist/Composer

Playing from the heart defines Namhee Han's approach to music making. Namhee holds Master's and Doctoral degrees in organ performance from UCLA. She has been a featured artist at National and Regional Conventions of the American Guild of Organists. A favorite on numerous Classical Crossroads' concerts when they resided in Manhattan Beach, Namhee Han is making her second appearance at the new Torrance venue. She performs on Southern California's leading organs including the magnificent instruments at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.

Multi-talented Maria Newman has been recognized and commended by the United States Congress for her work in the field of classical music composition and performance, and is an award-winning conductor, violinist, violist, pianist, composer, and pedagogue. As Composer-in-Residence at the Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture (MAHMA), a modern craftsman venue in Malibu, Maria Newman participates in approximately forty concerts annually in this venue alone. She also serves as the Director of Music at Westwood Presbyterian Church.

Free admission - Donations Appreciated

Friday, January 8, 2016 at 12:15 p.m.
(Note this is a Second Friday)

West Coast Debut Together!

David Kaplan, piano  Rachel Lee Priday, violin


About Rachel Lee Priday
"Her sound is big and luscious enough to ride the orchestral crests comfortably, yet supple enough to make the singing paragraphs soar." ~ The Chicago Tribune

Described in The New Yorker "as a matter-of-fact genius," East Coast-based, Harvard-educated Rachel Lee Priday has risen to the top tier of American violinists, playing the concerto repertoire with leading international orchestras, including the Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, and Seattle Symphony Orchestras, the Boston Pops, and the Berlin Staatskapelle, to name some.

About David Kaplan
"Mr. Kaplan played Schumann's score and the new contributions to it with command, elegance and character." ~ Anthony Tommasini, Chief Music Critic, The New York Times

Rachel's frequent recital collaborator and good friend David Kaplan is well known to aficionados in Southern California, where he grew up, attended UCLA and studied there under Walter Ponce, and was a two-time Beverly Hills National Auditions winner. Now based in New York City, David was recently awarded the Doctorate of Musical Arts at Yale, where he studied with Claude Frank.

Free admission - Donations Appreciated  

Friday, February 5, 2016 at 12:15 p.m.

2015 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition
Gold Medalists!

Geneva Lewis, violin  Emma Wernig, viola

with Pianist NATHAN LEWIS

Violinist Geneva Lewis and violist Emma Wernig are the 2015 Fischoff Competition Junior Division Gold Medalists as members of the Incendium Quartet of the Colburn School and Pasadena Conservatory. Geneva's older multi-talented brother Nathan Lewis, violinist, pianist, and expert tennis and chess player, will be the collaborative pianist.

Geneva and Emma's Gold Medal Fischoff performance with the Incendium Quartet of
Brahms' String Quartet No.2 in A Minor, Op.51 No.2 - 1st movement

Sixteen-year-old Geneva Lewis, Grand Prize winner of the 2015 ENKOR International Music Competition, perform Saint-Saëns' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.
Emma Wernig perform the first movement of Rebecca Clarke's Viola Sonata at the Montecito International Music Festival.

Free admission - Donations Appreciated

Friday, March 4, 2016 at 12:15 p.m.

Two Beverly Hills National Auditions Winners
joined by Cellist Maksim Velichkin


Nora Chiang, piano  Limor Toren-Immerman, violin  Maksim Velichkin, cello
Nora Chiang Wrobel piano                                                                             
Limor Toren-immerman violin
Maksim Velichkin cello

At the age of thirteen Nora Chiang Worbel was awarded a five-year scholarship to attend the pre-college division of The Juilliard School. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music. Nora did graduate work at New England Conservatory and earned a Master of Music from the University of Southern California. In addition to performing as a solo and ensemble pianist throughout Southern California, Nora maintains a piano studio, coaches piano teachers, and lecturers on music-related topics to music teachers' groups.

Violinist Limor Toren-Immerman has appeared as recital and concerto soloist with orchestras worldwide. She also serves as Concertmaster for Mozart Classical Orchestra, Glendale Philharmonic, West Covina Symphony, and Opera in the Park, Assistant Concertmaster for the Chamber Orchestra of South Bay, Assistant Principal for the New West Symphony Orchestra, and performs with Pacific Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, and California Philharmonic. Ms. Toren-Immerman studied at the Moscow Gnessins College of Music. She holds a Bachelor of Music and Artist Diploma from Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Dance, Israel, and Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from the USC Thornton School of Music.

Maksim Velichkin is an accomplished cellist, pianist, and harpsichordist who has been active as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra artist. Mr.Velichkin began his studies in his native Uzbekistan, and continued to pursue his Bachelor of Music degree at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and his Master's degree at USC under the renowned Professor Elenore Shoenfeld.

Free admission - Donations Appreciated

Friday, April 1, 2016 at 12:15 p.m.

One of the Most Respected Portuguese Musicians

Filipe Pinto-Ribeiro, piano

Portuguese Pianist

Pianist Filipe Pinto-Ribeiro is regarded as one of the most respected Portuguese musicians. Besides performing as a recitalist and a chamber artist worldwide, he is in demand as a concerto soloist and has performed with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa, and the Orquestra Nacional do Porto, to name some.

Filipe Pinto-Ribeiro, studied in Portugal at the Superior School of Music in Porto and continued at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory P.I. Tchaikovsky, where he was awarded a Doctorate in Piano Performance. At the present, Filipe Pinto-Ribeiro is Professor at the Instituto Superior de Estudos Interculturais e Transdisciplinares, in Almada, and at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, in Porto.

Bach / Vivaldi : Allegro BWV972

Free admission - Donations Appreciated

Friday, May 6, 2016 at 12:15 p.m.

Series Favorites Who Earned Their Doctorates in the USC Thornton Piano Studio of Renowned Pianist and Teacher Kevin Fitz Gerald

Izumi Kashiwag, piano  Rose Chen, piano

Duo Pianists

Aficionados immediately recognize Izumi Kashiwagi and Rose Chen among the top collaborative and ensemble artists in town. They have appeared separately on the Classical Crossroads and its Manhattan Beach predecessor series numerous times and have won the hearts and loyalties of audiences across Southern California. Izumi and Rose appeared together as a piano duo for the first time on the Brand Library series in Glendale. Their appearance together in the South Bay as a piano duo is being greeted by audience members with the highest anticipation.

Free admission - Donations Appreciated

Friday, June 3, 2016 at 12:15 p.m.

All-Poulenc Program
~ a Rare Treat for Music Lovers of All Ages ~

Schumann Piano Duo

  Duo Pianists
~ perform ~
Francis Poulenc (1899 - 1963):
Sonata for Piano Four-Hands
~ and~
Francis Poulenc:
Histoire de Babar ~ le petit éléphant
(The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant)
for Narrator (Sonya) and Piano (Elizabeth)
with projected images

Francis PoulencAccording to Daniel Goodman, in 1940 Francis Poulenc was living in the countryside outside Paris, composing less-tonal music that veered toward atonality. One day, his three-year-old cousin Sophie, who did not appreciate this musical style, placed her copy of Babar the Elephant upside down on the piano's music stand and said, "Play this." Poulenc improvised an accompaniment to each scene, and Sophie was thrilled. Before long, everyone in the neighborhood came by to hear the new piece. Poulenc wrote the music down and dedicated it to his young cousins and neighbors.

Southern California aficionados are huge fans of the enterprising Schumann sisters, Elizabeth and Sonya, from their several previous Southland appearances - the performances of Clara Schumann's rarely heard four-hands transcription of Robert Schumann's great Piano Quintet and Johannes Brahms' four-hands transcription of his great Piano Quartet; Saint Saëns' Carnival of the Animals with original poetry by Elizabeth's husband Christopher Steger and original projected images by Natalie Hall; and Richard Strauss' Enoch Arden for piano and narrator on poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Finale from Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals

Free admission - Donations Appreciated  

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