Yun Zeng, French Horn

Michael Chertock, Piano

Sunday, March 3, 2024

3 pm

Memorial Hall, OTR

Recently appointed Principal Horn of the Berlin Philharmonic, Yun Zeng has been  Principal Horn of the Staatskapelle Berlin since November 2022.

Born into a musical Chinese family in 1999, he started learning French horn with his father, Jie Zeng, at age six. In 2012, he was selected to the ‘Best of Best project’, specially provided to young talented musicians by the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China. As a soloist, Yun Zeng has performed some of the most renowned French horn repertoire with symphony orchestras and is currently shining on international stages.

He has had a chain of successes in international competitions: 2nd prize at the International Competition of Young Musicians in Vladivostok, Russia in 2012; 2nd prize at the Jeju International Brass Competition in South Korea - the youngest prize winner in its history; 2nd prize in the Professional Division of the 2015 International Horn Competition of America; 1st prize at the Lieksa International Horn Competition in Finland in 2016; 1st prize at the International Competition “Città di Porcia” in 2017; and 2nd prize at the Prague Spring International Competition in 2018.

In 2019 Zeng won first prize in the newly introduced brass instrument category of the International Tchaikovsky Competition, and in 2021 he was awarded 2nd Prize in the horn category at the ARD International Music Competition in Munich, Germany. In 2022, at age 22, Zeng won the audition for principal horn of one of the oldest orchestras in the world (founded in 1570), Staatskapelle Berlin, a much-coveted post for any brass player.

“Playing the French horn is like dancing on a high wire” Yun Zeng has observed, adding it is “difficult to play and probably the most difficult of all orchestral instruments... It’s not only about technique but also about a sense of beauty up there.”

The biggest surprise of the competition in the new categories was the young French horn player from China, Yun Zeng,”

— Maestro Valery Gergiev, commenting on Yun Zeng’s First Prize win in the inaugural Brass Category of the 2019 Tchaikovsky Competition

“...a wonderful horn player.”

— Maestro Valery Gergiev, commenting on Yun Zeng’s First Prize win in the inaugural Brass Category of the 2019 Tchaikovsky Competition

He took part in the opening ceremony of the first Beijing Youth Art Festival

Michael Chertock, Piano

Fashioning a successful career as a piano soloist, Michael Chertock has collaborated with conductors such as Keith Lockhart, Jack Everly, Robert Bernhardt, John Morris Russell, Thomas Wilkins, Carmon DeLeone, and the late Erich Kunzel. His many orchestral appearances include solo performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, l’Orchestre Symphonique du Montreal, the Toronto Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Altanta Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony, the Chattanooga Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Louiseville Orchestra and the Dayton Philharmonic.

Chertock has recorded the John Alden Carpenter's Concertino for Piano and Orchestra with the BBC Concert Orchestra, Abbey Road Studio; the Roger Davis Piano Concerto in F, with the Sofia Philharmonic; and the Rhapsodies of Piano and Orchestra of William Perry with the RTE Orchestra of Dublin, Ireland.

Michael Chertock, Piano

Chertock made his debut at the age of 17, performing the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 with Andrew Litton conducting. Chertock made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1999 with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, performing Duke Ellington’s New World A’Comin’. Chertock has toured Asia with the Boston Pops, and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. His 2003 performance on the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Petrouchka with Paavo Järvi turned in rave reviews in Gramophone and American Record Guide. In 2005, Chertock performed Gershwin’s Concerto in F Major with Maestro Lockhart and the National Youth Orchestra of London. Later that year, Chertock performed the world premiere of "Jeux Deux" for hyper-piano and orchestra by Todd Machover, commissioned by the Boston Pops expressly for Mr. Chertock.

Claude Gingras of La Presse, Montreal, said of pianist Michael Chertock: “Chertock revealed himself as a first-rate pianist and an interpreter of noticeable interest through the freshness that he brought to these familiar scores....(he) displayed the sensitivity of a Chopin interpreter.” The Boston Globe, with guest critic Anthony Tommasini (currently chief music critic of the NY Times), called his playing “unmannered, zestful, and lovely.” The Cincinnati Enquirer has described Chertock's playing as “intelligent and disciplined...noble...finely finished...expressive and well-controlled.” The Salt Lake City Deseret News said “Chertock... is a musical performer with an immense technical command of the piano.”

Chertock began conducting in 2001 when he stepped in for Maestro Carmon De Leone in performances of Cincinnati Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Chertock is the conductor of the Blue Ash-Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, located in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio, and he frequently composes and arranges music for the orchestra’s concerts. He has conducted the Columbus Symphony (Ohio) and the Cincinnati Symphony in performances of The Nutcracker. In 2015, 2016, and 2017, Chertock conducted the State Symphony Orchestra of Moscow and the Moscow Conservatory Orchestra in programs devoted to the music of George Gershwin.

He has garnered numerous awards at major competitions, among them the top prize in the 1989 Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition (Brahms Division,) and the grand prize in the 1993 St. Charles International Piano Competition. He also shared the silver medal in the 1991 World Piano Competition of the American Music Scholarship Association. He received the Rildia B. O’Bryon Cliburn Scholarship in 1986.

In 1994, Chertock released his first CD on the Telarc label, a collection of his original arrangements of music from movies entitled Cinematic Piano. American Record Guide said “(Chertock) plays beautifully, and Telarc’s lush sonics bathe the listener in an intoxicating wash of piano sonorities.” Cincinnati Enquirer critic Janelle Gelfand called it “one of the most gorgeous discs of the summer”, citing his “elegant techniques...just the right poetic tone.” The recording has sold more than 30,000 units worldwide. Since then, he has recorded three more discs with Telarc: Palace of the Winds, Christmas at the Movies and Love At the Movies, which have been praised for their lush, original arrangements and exquisite technical facility.

In 2004 Chertock joined the faculty of the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, where he is currently chair of the Piano Department. Chertock makes his home in Mason, Ohio, with his wife Maaike. Most Sundays you can find him playing piano and organ for services at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church.


En Forêt, Op.40................................................Eugène Bozza (1905 – 1991)

Sonata for Horn and Piano, Op.17........Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)

2 Romances, Op.36 & 67........................Camille Saint-Säens (1835 – 1921)

Romanian Folk Dances, Sz.68..............Béla Bartók (1881 – 1945) 

Andante Cantabile, arr. by Maxi Santos........Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893)

Sonata for Horn and Piano in E Flat (1943)........Paul Hindemith (1895 – 1963)


Variations on "Carnival of Venice"

Jazz Horn Solo


Photography by Gayna Bassin

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