Critic’s Choice

Tue Jan 29, 2019 at 4:29 pm


Ursula Oppens has, for decades, been one of the essential pianists in contemporary classical music. More than presenting and interpreting the repertoire, Oppens has been a partner in creating new works with some of the greatest composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Elliott Carter and Fred Rzewski.

Oppens turns 75 on Saturday and her career will be celebrated at Merkin Concert Hall in a concert that puts the pianist and her collaborations front and center. The evening will be hosted by WQXR radio personality Terrance McKnight, and Oppens will be joined by her frequent performing partner, the Cassatt String Quartet. Together they will premiere a piano quintet by Laura Kaminsky (the Cassatt will also play Ravel’s String Quartet).

This is the kind of birthday party where the guests will receive the most substantial gift, the opportunity to hear Oppens play some of the music written for her—not only earlier works from Carter and John Corigliano, but another world premiere, this one composed expressly for her by Tobias Picker.

Ursula Oppens’ 75th Birthday Tribute takes place 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Merkin Concert Hall.

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