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The last chamber music Johannes Brahms composed are the two Sonatas Opus 120. They were originally composed for clarinet and piano, and are also often performed by viola using a transcription by Brahms himself. Hearing a great performance of Richard Mühlfeld, a famous clarinetist of his time, inspired Brahms to write music again after he had already decided to retire from composition, and this set became part of the most-beloved repertoires for clarinet and viola. In this concert, clarinetist Heather Thon will play No. 1, and violist Jonas Benson will play No. 2, with pianist Hiroko Nagahata.
Hiroko Nagahata was a Special Presentation Award winner of the Artists International Audition and made her New York solo recital debut at Carnegie Weill Recital Hall in 2009. In 2011, she performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor with the New York Concerto Sinfonietta, conducted by Paul Hostetter, in the same venue. She received a Doctor of Music Degree from Michigan State University, a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music Degree from Kobe College, Japan.
Clarinetist Heather Thon recently relocated to Chicago after freelancing in the New York City area for nearly 10 years. She was a founding member of the Aeros Quintet and regularly performed with various orchestras and chamber ensembles in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Radio City Music Hall. Heather has also played with pop stars such as Amy Grant and Clay Aikin, performed live at the Daytime Emmy Awards, and recorded with the Hot Club of San Francisco for Azica Records. After receiving her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Michigan, Heather was a member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra before attending the Manhattan School of Music for her Master of Music degree in Orchestral Performance.
Violist Jonas Benson brings energy and diversity of experience to a wide range of music. He is a member of the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra, and 42nd Parallel, and recently finished his term as Principal Violist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He is a founding member of the Sheridan String Quartet, and frequently performs chamber music. Jonas holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University, both in Viola Performance.