Cora Swenson Lee and Claire-Chung Lim 

Cora Swenson Lee, cello

Claire-Chung Lim, piano

February 17, 2021

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts

David Schwan, host


Amy Beach – 2 Pieces, Op. 40 (6′)


La Captive

Ethel Smyth – Cello Sonata, Op. 5 (20′)

I. Allegro moderato

II. Adagio non troppo

III. Allegro vivace e grazioso

Luise Adolpha Le Beau – 2 Stücke, Op. 24 (8′)

Romance in E major

Mazurka in A minor

Praised by the San Francisco Classical Voice for playing “with maturity and panache,” Dr. Cora Swenson Lee is a cellist and baroque cellist active throughout the United States. She holds a Doctorate and Bachelors in Cello Performance with highest distinction from the Eastman School of Music, and a Masters in Cello Performance from Boston University College of Fine Arts.

Cora is an ardent chamber musician and recitalist, performing regularly on series including Kings Chapel Recitals (Boston) and Live from Hochstein Broadcasts. She was recently awarded first prize in Instrumental Performance by the American Prize Competition. Cora has appeared with Boston Baroque, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Handel and Haydn Society, and the New World Symphony. Cora’s ensemble Trio Speranza concertizes each season, and was a prize-winner at Early Music America’s  2014 Baroque Performance Competition. Performance highlights include the San Francisco Early Music Society, Jordan Hall (Boston), DePaul University (Chicago), the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Suntory Hall (Tokyo), and Odori Park (Sapporo, Japan).

A passionate educator, Cora is Instructional Assistant Professor of Cello at Illinois State University, adjunct Professor of Cello at Illinois Wesleyan University, and coordinator of the Eastman Cello Institute. She previously held appointments at Bucknell University, the Hochstein School, the University of Rochester, and Nazareth College.

Cora studied under renowned cello pedagogues including Distinguished Professor Alan Harris (Eastman School of Music), Richard Hirschl (Chicago Symphony), and Marc Johnson (Vermeer Quartet).

Dr. Claire-Chung Lim is a sought-after soloist and chamber musician. She has enjoyed success in competitions, winning 1st place at the Brahms Piano Competition and 3rd place at the Sion International Duo Competition. Her accomplishments have been featured in Strad Magazine, the Boston Globe, and the Korean-American Newspaper.

As a member of Duo Davvero, Dr. Lim has devoted much of her career to collaboration. She frequently collaborates with the studios of Paul Katz, Natasha Brofsky, Donald Weilerstein, Miriam Fried, and Laurence Lesser. Following her success at Sion International Duo Competition in Switzerland, Dr. Lim was invited to the Académie de Musique Lausanne Violin-Piano Duo Masterclass by Pierre Amoyal and Robert Levin in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she won Best Duo Performance.

Dr. Lim has performed in world-renowned venues, including Jordan Hall, Carnegie Hall, Princeton University, Prague Conservatory, and Shanghai Conservatory. She has also given broadcasted performances on the Suisse-Espace 2 radio television station (Switzerland), WUOL, Louisville Radio Station, and WCRB (Boston).

Dr. Lim earned her Doctorate in Collaborative Piano and Chamber Music at Boston University, studying with Sheila Kibbe. She received dual Masters degrees from New England Conservatory in Solo Piano Performance and Collaborative Piano Performance, and also graduated summa cum laude from Seoul National University. Dr. Lim trained with renowned pianists including Vivian Weilerstein, Bruce Brubaker, and Hung-Kuan Chen.

Dr. Lim has held positions at Tanglewood Music Festival, Killington Music Festival, Heifetz International Music Institute, Banff Centre, Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, and the New England Conservatory and Preparatory School. She is currently Visiting Assistant Professor in Collaborative Piano and Chamber Music at Indiana University-Bloomington.

Today’s program, a selection of short character pieces alongside a centerpiece sonata, is inspired by the format of 19th Century salon concerts. These salons, hosted and attended by those of the intellectual society as well as prominent artists and musicians, often featured premiers of chamber works. It’s likely that Beach, Smyth and Le Beau participated in and had works of their own premiered or performed at salons like these.

Amy Beach (1867-1944)

2 Pieces, Op. 40 (1898) 

Amy Beach, an American composer and pianist, found widespread international success without receiving European compositional training. Her marriage, though apparently a happy one, limited both her performance and studies, forcing Beach to pursue her compositional passions independently. While she focused primarily on large-scale works, Beach’s chamber pieces and songs remain some of her most popular compositions. The selections from Op. 40, originally written for violin and piano, are representative of Beach’s compositional interests, featuring elements of folk cultures, romantic characterizations, and sweeping melodies.

Ethel Smyth (1858-1944)

Cello Sonata, Op. 5 (1887)

Ethel Smyth, a British composer and activist, was the first composer to be honored with Damehood. Unlike Beach, Smyth struggled for recognition, alternately criticized for writing music that was “too masculine” for a woman, or “too delicate” to stand alongside her male colleagues. As a queer woman often excluded from the center of British musical life, Smyth became passionate about women’s rights and was active in the Suffrage movement in the early 20th Century, even writing its anthem: “The March for Women” in 1911. Her Cello Sonata, Op. 5 is an early work, showing influences of both Mendelssohn and Brahms, whom she met while studying in Leipzig. The sonata is powerful and subtle, muscular and gentle, and seems to reflect the contradictions and conflicts found within her own life and personality.

Luise Adolpha Le Beau (1850-1927)

2 Stücke, Op. 24 (1882) 

The career of German pianist and composer Luise Le Beau intersected with that of many prominent musicians of her time, including Liszt, Brahms, Joseph Joachim, and Clara Schumann. Her musical activities were centered in Germany, since a trip to the Netherlands at a young age convinced her that her health was not strong enough to withstand extensive touring. In addition to her composing and performing, Le Beau worked as a piano teacher and a music critic. Le Beau was nominated to a teaching position at the Royal Academy of Arts in Berlin, but was denied the post because the school had never appointed the position to a woman. Le Beau’s compositions span a wide range of instrumentations from chamber music to opera, but she seemed to have had an affinity for writing for the cello. In 1882, the same year that she composed her Op. 24 pieces for cello and piano, her Cello Sonata Op. 17 won first prize in an international competition. The selections from Op. 24 reveal a composer of rich imagination, combining elements of romance, charm, and virtuosity.

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts are made possible through the generosity of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council and the Union League Club of Chicago.
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts are presented in partnership with the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and 98.7 WFMT

Don’t miss John Macfarlane and Victor Asuncion

next week on the

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!

Wednesday February 24, 12:15pm

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