Judith Lynn Stillman’s ‘Boldly Beethoven’ premieres on April 29


Pianist and composer Judith Lynn Stillman’s “Boldly Beethoven,” a multimedia play within a concert, premieres on April 29 at the Rhode Island Philharmonic’s Carter Center.

Stillman, a music professor and the artist-in-residence at Rhode Island College, teamed with Tony Estrella, the Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre’s artistic director, and members of the Rhode Island Philharmonic for this innovative program.

Stillman’s script illuminates and contextualizes the music of Beethoven, Franz Liszt and Carl Czerny by twining together their letters, journals and reminiscences. Estrella portrays Beethoven and four of his contemporaries, bringing the composer’s words to life.

Some of Beethoven’s most monumental chamber music and piano works are part of the program. Stillman is joined in the performance by Philharmonic violinist Katherine Winterstein, cellist Steven Laven and clarinetist Ian Greitzer.

Stillman said she is “thrilled to be part of this unique collaboration with such extraordinary colleagues.”

Her hope, she said, “is that my script, and the melding and juxtaposition of Beethoven’s music and words, will provide glimpses into the composer’s world and underscore the inseparable nature of person and artist.” 

Stillman’s previous works include “Phoenix from the Ashes,” for which she composed music set to poems from “Vedem: The Secret Magazine by the Boys of Terezín.” The work was the centerpiece of the Holocaust commemoration at the Czech Embassy in Washington, D.C., with Metropolitan Opera soprano Lori Phillips and Stillman performing, and was also featured at Rhode Island’s 2016 Interfaith Yom ha-Shoah commemoration ceremony. 

For this year’s Yom ha-Shoah commemoration, Stillman composed a short work, which she performed with Cantor Brian J. Mayer and the HaZamir Providence Chorale.    

Stillman has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Tanglewood and many other venues, as well as being a guest artist at major conservatories in China, Russia and the Czech Republic. The winner of 18 piano competitions, Stillman has also won numerous awards as a filmmaker.

“Boldly Beethoven” premieres on Sunday, April 29, at 2 p.m. at the Rhode Island Philharmonic’s Carter Center, 667 Waterman Ave., East Providence. Tickets are available online at tickets.riphil.org/calendar/2018-04-29. There is also an abbreviated preview at Rhode Island College, 600 Mount Pleasant Ave., Providence, in the Nazarian Center’s Sapinsley Hall, on Thursday, April 26, at 1 p.m.

LEV POPLOW is a communications consultant. He can be reached at levpoplow@gmail.com.

Stillman, Beethoven, Rhode Island College