The Landing at Northcut is pleased to host the monthly concert series by Song Heights.
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What is Song Heights?
Music is a powerful, universal force. It moves us. It relaxes and inspires us. It educates us. It unites us. Metro Seattle is renowned for its software, coffee, e-commerce and beautiful surroundings, but we’re also blessed with some of the best musical talent in America. Song Heights is a local music vehicle that will dive deeper into our local pool of talent. We’ll bring you biographies in multimedia and invite you to live venues to experience them up close. Experience our conversations with the musicians where we’ll learn about the interesting life stories that spotlight how they developed their talent; who mentored, influenced, who instructed them here and where they’re headed next.
2015 October Featured Artists
Yelena Balabanova >>
Called “magical” and “mesmerizing”, Yelena Balabanova has performed as a soloist, accompanist, and chamber musician in numerous festivals and concerts, including Steinway Hall, Benaroya Hall, a four-year tenure at Colorado Music Fest, and tours across the United States, Canada, Europe, and her native Russia.
“…unbelievable clarity…aware of every note and its meaning in the phrase…selfless, honest approach to the music and its message…fingers disappeared and the more important illusion of SOUND as an orchestral possibility, emerged. Yelena’s playing transported us.” (Deborah Dewey, pianist)
Yelena Balabanova’s extensive repertoire, original interpretations, and imaginative programs were recognized by the Award from the National Endowment for Advancement in the Arts, Recognition from the National Foundation of Music Clubs, Outstanding Alumna Award from the State School of Arts in the Moscow Region, Prize in the Competition of the Americas for the professional pianists, Graduate Faculty scholarship at the University of CO at Boulder, and full scholarship at the Russian State Gnesins Academy of Music.
Yelena Balabanova began her musical training at the age of four, received her Bachelor’s piano performance degree at the age of 19 in Moscow, and was awarded the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she studied with Larry Graham and Robert Spillman. Her teachers also include Vladimir Krainev, Arcadiy Sevidov, and Valentina Zvereva. Dr. Balabanova taught at the State School of the Arts in the Moscow region of Russia, at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, University of Colorado at Boulder, and at the Renaissance Music Academy of Virginia. She is a sought-after presenter of workshops and master-classes, and enjoys coaching and creating performance opportunities for other musicians as Artistic Coordinator of Soli Del Gloria concert series in Bellevue, WA. She currently serves as WSMTA Vice President District I and the Chairman for the Arts Awareness and Advocacy Committee and a member of Advisory Boards for several non-profit cultural organizations. After working as an Artistic Director of API and Colorado MTNA Competition Chairman, Dr Balabanova also founded the Rocky Mountain Piano Soirees, a grass-root movement which has grown to bring together pianists from all over the state of CO.
Yelena Balabanova loves to share her passion for piano with her community and students of all ages through teaching at the International Conservatory Studio in Bellevue, Sammamish, Mukilteo and Seattle, WA, and in Colorado Springs, CO. ICS students performed with 15 symphony orchestras including Berlin Phihlarmonic and were recognized with numerous awards, including scholarships to schools including Peabody Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, Wheaton Conservatory in Chicago, BYU, University of CO at Boulder, CO State University, Philips-Andover, and others.
“At God’s Waterfall”, Yelena Balabanova’s new CD was met with rave reviews. The CD is featuring a live performance of Scriabin and Chopin Etudes and poetry by Rosalyn Renshaw. It was recorded at the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue, famous for its music programming. As a frequent guest pianist, Yelena Balabanova is heard on many broadcasts and streaming live with the Choir and Orchestra of Bellevue. Other Yelena’s recordings are featured on the Ten Grands CDs produced by MAH Records.
Stephen Howland >>
Stephen is a guitarist, composer, arranger, songwriter, music professor, and private instructor; active in jazz, classical, flamenco, and modern songwriting. He lives and works in Seattle, Washington, where he shares his life-long passion for, and intimate knowledge of the guitar, its rich musical traditions, and its endless possibilities for creativity, expression, and building community.
He currently teaches both jazz and classical guitar and co-directs the annual PLU Guitar Festival at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. He also teaches privately at Seattle’s Rosewood Guitar. He appears as a clinician at universities, colleges, guitar societies, and a wide variety of public and private venues. Recent clinics have covered the art of playing classical guitar, basic techniques of playing flamenco guitar, the popular flamenco form of Bulerías with musical examples from Paco De Lucía’s Cepa Andaluza, the traditional jazz form “Rhythm Changes,” Jazz Rhythm Guitar, and the influential tradition of jazz guitar playing and improvisation developed by the Swing jazz guitar giant, Charlie Christian. As a private guitar instructor he works with beginners, aspiring students, and many local professionals, including active teachers, performers, composers, improvisors, and songwriters. His younger students have gone on to pursue advanced degrees at institutions locally and across the country. He is a dedicated, compassionate teacher, employing a flexible methodology, marked by a genuine appreciation of individual interests and abilities.
He currently plays original music with some of the best creative talent in the Seattle Jazz scene, including Nate Omdal, Marco De Carvalho, Gordy Ryan, Adam Kessler, Jason Parker, Courtney Fortune, among others. He also plays classical and flamenco guitar, performing solo and in a variety of classical ensembles, including his ongoing seven-year classical guitar duo with PLU colleague Elizabeth Brown. He is a master of the four-hundred year classical guitar repertoire and often performs original pieces and arrangements, including many adaptions of piano pieces by Albéniz, Bach, MacDowell, Mozart, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, and Turina.
He has published a diverse range of sound recordings and video recordings to Youtube and Soundcloud, though often removing excessive items after a given play period. He also has been featured recently on recordings and large scale CD releases as a writer and studio guitarist for independent artists and bands, including the Seattle based rock band Motopony.
Stephen is a native of Walla Walla, in rural SE Washington. From his early teens, he worked in professional nightclub bands, put together bands to play at private and public events, and played in a variety of jazz ensembles from small combos to big bands, including being recorded as a soloist with big band. An interest in classical and jazz guitar and music composition led to formal training. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Idaho, and Master and Doctoral degrees from Arizona State University. He received the highest marks and many academic honors and awards, including the Eleanor Mader Memorial String Award, the Presser Scholar Award, academic scholarships, and a graduate teaching assistantship. He also earned multiple medals at music festivals, was regularly selected for master-classes with the biggest international performing guitarists, and was a featured guitarist-composer in new music festivals. He also completed a DMA research paper entitled Edward’s
MacDowell’s “Woodland Sketches” Arranged for Guitar: A Performance Edition, Biography, and Literature Review.
Stephen lived in Arizona for roughly seven years, he was an active performer in the community. Chamber highlights included duet performances with voice, piano, harpsichord, guitar, violin, flute, and saxophone; as well as performances in trio, quartet, and quintet settings. Also, as a specialist on the Renaissance lute and vihuela, he was the resident lute accompanist at ASU and made many guest appearances with the internationally touring early music ensemble Musica Dolce. He was also active in educational outreach activities in public and private schools, performing on, and talking about the lute and vihuela and traditions in early music.
Since returning to the Northwest, Stephen has played regularly at countless Northwest venues including Anthony’s Homeport, Arts West, Bell Harbor Ballroom, Bitters Cafe, Bright Water Skinner Theater, Canlis, Captain Whidbey Inn, Center For Spiritual Living, Chapel of St. Ignatius, Chateau St. Michelle, Dragonfly Retreat, Edgewater Hotel, Eliot Bay Yacht Club, Everett Arboretum, Everett Manor, Frye Art Museum, Hyatt Bellevue, Illahee Manor, Lagerquist Concert Hall, Lake Union Crew Boathouse, Mary Baker Russell amphitheater, Marymore Park Mansion, May Flower Plaza Hotel, Montevilla Farmhouse, Mountain Home Lodge, Mount Baker Community Club, Museum of Flight, Mukilteo Presbyterian Church, Olympic Sculpture Park, Pacific Place Center, Palisades, Patricia Rovzar Gallery, Pravda Studios, Ray’s Boathouse, Saint Cecilia Catholic Church, Salty’s on Alki, Salish Lodge, Scriber Gardens, Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Asian-Art Museum, Seattle Mennonite Church, Seattle University, Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Skansonia, Sodo Park, Sorrento Hotel, Suncadia Resort, Suquamish Longhouse, Sylvan Grove Theater, Tacoma Bible Presbyterian Church, The Acorn, University Plaza Hotel, Washington Athletic Club, Washington State Convention and Trade Center, Willows Lodge, Woodland Park United Methodist Church, University of Washington Faculty Club, UW Grieg Garden, Washington Care Center, Woodland Park Zoo, and many others.