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First Fridays at First! ~ fff ~ Current Season

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

2016-2017 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, September 9, 2016 at 12:15 p.m.
(Note this is a Second Friday)

2016 Winner of Peninsula Symphony's
44th Annual Edith Knox Performance Competition

Caroline Hu, piano


Recently named a "Recommended Artist" of the Beverly Hills National Auditions, fast rising seventeen-year-old Caroline Ho will open the 2016-2017 season of Classical Crossroads' "First Fridays at First! ~ fff" series. Caroline will be entering her final year at Santa Monica High School in fall 2016.

As winner of the 44th Annual Edith Knox Performance Competition, Caroline Ho was awarded $1,500 and performed Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1 with Peninsula Symphony in June 2016. She joins illustrious past top winners who have included such noted artists as piano virtuosos Alan Gampel and Rufus Choi, NY Philharmonic Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples, violin virtuoso Linda Wang, Salastina Music Society co-founder and violinist Kevin Kumar, Beverly Hills National Auditions winner, pianist Esther Keel, and Caroline's piano teacher Anders Martinson.

Although primarily a cellist until four years ago, Caroline has recently won many local, regional, and statewide piano competitions. As a result, in addition to the Peninsula Symphony, she has appeared as concerto soloist with the Brentwood-Westwood Symphony Orchestra, the Palisades Symphony, and the Culver City Symphony Orchestra.

Friday, October 7, 2016 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 a winner of the Beverly Hills National Auditions and the principal Ensemble-in-Residence at the new series, Chamber Music OC. A favorite on Classical Crossroads' concerts, this will be Trio Céleste's third appearance.

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

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

Separate Winners of the
Beverly Hills National Auditions
Join in a Four-Hand Piano Recital

Beth Nam, piano  Somang Jeagal, piano


Beth Nam is well known to Southern California aficionados as the pianist of the acclaimed Allant Trio, winner of the Beverly Hills National Auditions. She is the winner of numerous competitions including the 5 Towns Music and Art Foundation Young Musician Competition, the Young Pianist Beethoven Competition in San Jose, the US Open Concerto Competition in San Francisco, and the Torrance Symphony Association's Bramhall Concerto Competition for Young Artists. Dr. Nam earned her Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees as a scholarship student at The Juilliard School. She is currently a collaborative pianist at the Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles.


As Grand Prize winner in the 61st Washington International Competition for Piano, So-Mang Jeagal was awarded a $10,000 financial prize, as well as a concerto appearance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and a solo recital on the prestigious Phillips Collection Recital Series. Somang also won the 2014 Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, receiving an all-expense-paid trip to present a solo recital at the Liszt Museum in Budapest, Hungary. He is the winner of numerous other awards, including the Beverly Hills National Auditions. So-Mang Jeagal graduated from Seoul National University with Bachelor and Master of Music degrees, and earned the coveted Artist Diploma under Professor Kevin Fitz Gerald at the USC Thornton School of Music.


Friday, December 2, 2016 at 12:15 p.m.

The Organist at Westwood Presbyterian Church

Namhee Han, organ


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 third appearance at the 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.

Friday, January 6, 2017 at 12:15 p.m.

"... his impressive clarity and sense of structure – to say nothing of a monster technique – provided an often startling immediacy to all his sure fingers touched." ~ Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

Steven Vanhauwaert, piano


Grand-Prize winner of the 2004 Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, Belgian pianist Steven Vanhauwaert earned his Master of Music degree from the Royal Conservatory in Brussels and continued his graduate studies at the USC Thornton School. Steven won the USC Concerto Competition with the Schumann Concerto and performed it with the USC Thornton Symphony under the baton of Carl St. Clair. He has also performed as concerto soloist with the Pacific, Flemish, Bryan, Auburn, Santa Monica and Peninsula Symphonies, the Eastern Sierra Chamber Orchestra, and Prima la Musica, amongst others. Steven is a two-time Beverly Hills Auditions winner and frequent pianist on the acclaimed Jacaranda series.

Meet Steven Vanhauwaert

Friday, February 3, 2017 at 12:15 p.m.

"... But the most persuasive advocacy of Mr. Harrison's music came from Benjamin Hudson's violin in the long opening threnody of the Suite with American gamelan" ~ Paul Griffiths, The New York Times

Benjamin Hudson, violin   Antoinette Perry, piano

       Violinist                                 Pianist

American violinist Benjamin Hudson studied with celebrated teachers Donald Weilerstein, Oscar Shumsky, Joseph Gingold, Joseph Silverstein, and Henryk Szeryng. He has served as concertmaster of leading orchestras in New York, including the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Clarion Chamber Orchestra, Carnegie Hall's New York Pops Orchestra, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem Orchestra, and in Europe, including Sweden's Drottningholm Court Theatre Orchestra for nine seasons, the Hanover Band in London, and the Basel Symphony Orchestra. Most notably, he served from 1995 as concertmaster of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and regularly led the season's concerts from the violin. In August of 2015, Benjamin Hudson moved back to Los Angeles to perform, teach, and coach chamber music as a guest instructor at Cal Arts and record in the major film and television studios.

Born into a family of professional musicians, Antoinette Perry has appeared throughout the U.S., Europe, and China as a soloist and chamber musician, collaborating with many of the world's greatest artists, including John Perry, Leon Fleisher, Ralph Kirshbaum, Ronald Leonard, Brooks Smith, David Shifrin, Gabor Rejto, Henri Temianka, and Benjamin Hudson, to name just some. She has performed with members of the world's leading chamber ensembles such as the Emerson, Juilliard, and Takács string quartets, as well as with concertmasters and principals of many of the world's major orchestras. Ms. Perry taught at UCLA for 12 years before joining the Keyboard Studies faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music in 1996.

Friday, March 3, 2017 at 12:15 p.m.

"The alto aria 'Sucepit Israel' was perhaps the most artistic moment in the performance, especially as sung by the ravishing Katarzyna Sadej. The rapture on her visage was certainly projected in her voice." ~ F. Lee Eiseman,  The Boston Music Intelligencer

Katarzyna Sadej, mezzo-soprano
Photo by Justyna Szluinska

Polish-Canadian Mezzo-Soprano
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Polish-American Pianist

Polish-born, Canadian mezzo-soprano Katarzyna Sadej has sung internationally in concert, opera, chamber music, oratorio, and recital. Next season, she will make her debut with L.A. Opera as The Page of Herodias in Strauss' Salome. Katarzyna has performed numerous world premieres and has had over a dozen new works composed especially for her. Katarzyna has performed recitals in Canada, USA, England, France, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro.

A Beverly Hill National Auditions winner, Katarzyna made her San Diego Opera debut as Kate Pinkerton in Puccini's Madama Butterfly in April 2016. In the fall of 2015, Katarzyna made her debut with The Industry, L.A.'s cutting-edge contemporary opera company, as River Voice in the world premiere of Hopscotch. In the summer of 2015, Katarzyna sang the mezzo-soprano solos in J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor at Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo. She is the 2016 First Prize winner of the Susan and Virginia Hawk Vocal Competition and the 2015 winner of the Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Competition.

Katarzyna Sadej sings Séguedille from Bizet's Carmen 

Friday, April 7, 2017 at 12:15 p.m.

Amicus Trio

Violinist                             Cellist                             Pianist    
    Melody Chang         Coleman Itzkoff     Alin Melik-Adamyan

This top ensemble emerged from the USC Thornton graduate program. Violinist Melody Chang, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and USC's Thornton School of Music, was the First Prize winner of the 2013 Third Hong Kong International Violin Competition. Cellist Coleman Itzkoff, a graduate of USC's Thornton School of Music, was the 2016 artist-in-residence for Heifetz On Tour. He has performed at the Aspen, La Jolla, Yellow Barn, and Music@Menlo festivals. Alin Melik-Adamyan, also a graduate of USC's Thornton School of Music, took First Prize at the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition and won the 2014 MTNA State Piano Competition.

Beverly Hills National Auditions winners Alin and Coleman, who performed as a duo on Classical Crossroads' The Interludes series, return with their good friend Melody Chang to dive into the rich piano trio repertoire.

Friday, May 5, 2017 at 12:15 p.m.

Peninsula Symphony
2017 Knox Competition Winner

Nicholas Mariscal, cello

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In cooperation with the Peninsula Symphony, Classical Crossroads is presenting the winner of the 45th Knox Competition in recital on the First Fridays at First! ~  fff series.

Nicholas Mariscal is a 24-year-old cellist currently pursuing a Graduate Certificate at the University of Southern California with cellist Ralph Kirshbaum. He received his Master's degree from USC in 2016, after earning his Bachelor of Music degree at Indiana University under the tutelage of Eric Kim in 2014. He has won a number of competitions and awards and has had numerous distinctions as a cellist, including concerto performances at the Aspen Music Festival, performing Tan Dun's Snow in June, and at Indiana University, performing Gubaidulina's Canticle of the Sun for solo cello and choir, as well as Beethoven's Triple Concerto. He is the recent First Place winner of the 2017 Edith Knox Competition in Los Angeles, as well as the winner of the 2016 USC/Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Mock Audition, leading to a performance as a member of the LACO cello section.

Friday, June 2, 2017 at 12:15 p.m.

Calico Winds

Calico Winds

Photo by Gary Silk

Rachel Berry french horn   Kathryn Nevin clarinet
heresa Treuenfels bassoon   Ted Sugata oboe    Eileen Holt flute,

The much-loved Calico Winds are well-known to Southland chamber music aficionados. Among the five of them, they have earned one Bachelor of Arts, four Bachelors of Music, four Masters of Music and one (almost two) Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. Their combined musical travels have brought them from Europe to Israel to Mexico and all over North America. They are all active freelance players in Los Angeles, together having a diverse array of musical experiences from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony and Los Angeles Opera, to working with performers like Yanni, Michael Crawford, Cheap Trick, Elton John and Andrea Bocelli.

In a program sponsored by Classical Crossroads, later in the afternoon the Calico Winds will perform an outreach concert in an assembly for the students at First Lutheran School.

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