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Holiday Gifts | Musica Viva!

9 December 2023 | 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Members Only


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Indulge in gourmet musical bites by all-time favorites of composers Fritz Kreisler, Franz Schubert and Richard Strauss with the Belgian violin-piano duo Jolente De Maeyer and Nikolaas Kende along with U.S. star tenor Eric Taylor of the Houston Grand Opera.

The acclaimed De Maeyer and Kende duo have a wealth of international awards under their belt, and performances throughout countries across Europe and America. They last visited Musical Bridges Around the World audiences virtually in April 2020 from their home in Belgium due to COVID-19 restrictions, but will now finally be arriving in the Alamo City for a spectacular performance with Eric Taylor. The tenor vocalist has performed roles with the Santa Fe Opera, Utah Lyric Opera, and will be performing in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the Detroit Opera and Houston Grand Opera this concert season.

Check out these videos from the duo and Eric Taylor:


Jolente De Maeyer & Nikolaas Kende | Belgium

Jolente De Maeyer, violin

One of the leading Belgian violinists, Jolente De Maeyer, has brought her virtuosity and passionate interpretations to diverse global audiences. She is recognized as an exceptionally gifted artist, reflected in the numerous awards and effusive reviews she has received for both her live performances and recordings.

​Prizewinner of several international competitions in Portugal (Cardona Competition), Russia (Liana Issakadze Competition) and London (Benjamin Britten Competition), the international career of Jolente started with a successful participation at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.

​Performances with all major Belgian orchestras and concert tours in Europe and the United States followed. She made her debut in Florida, Vermont, California, Washington DC and Canada in 2017. This was followed by an extensive tour in South Africa. Future engagements include concert tours in Europe, Canada, United States and China.

​Her recordings include concerti by Saint-Saëns and Vieuxtemps with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Liège with Christian Arming, awarded an ‘Editors Choice’ from Diapason, and the CD ‘Kreutzer sonata’ with duo partner Nikolaas Kende, awarded a ‘Gold Label’ from Klassiek Centraal.

​After an invitation from Yehudi Menuhin when she was 14 years old, Jolente studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School near London. She continued her studies in London, Berlin, and Waterloo where she graduated in the class of Augustin Dumay in 2013. Since 2018, Jolente is a professor of violin at the Conservatory of Tilburg, the Netherlands, and has given masterclasses in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Texas and California.

Nikolaas Kende, piano

Nikolaas Kende has been praised for his poetic playing and honest, passionate musicality. Critics have honored his sensitive and visionary musicianship and his flawless skills always serving the music. Both as soloist and chamber musician he is a highly-demanded pianist on international concert stages. A winner of several competitions, including the Cantabile, EPTA, Vriendenkrans Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Tenuto competitions, Nikolaas started performing in all major halls in Belgium and the Netherlands. Highlights included the performances of the piano concertos by Brahms, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann and Bartok with Brussels Philharmonic, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, National Radio Orchestra Romania, among others.

After a concert at the Festival de Dansa y Musica Granada in 2019 ‘Ideal’ wrote: ‘This promising pianist caresses the keyboard, expressive with colors and tender with the melody and all the degrees of affection that typify the romantic soul’. Besides being a regular guest at the Festival of Flanders, he has also performed at festivals in Italy (Ravello, Rome, Bari), France (Menton, Montpellier, Vexin), Portugal (Coimbra), Germany (Görlitz, Munich, Bad Berleburg) , Austria (Salzburg), Ireland (Westport), UK (Cotswolds), Czech Republic (Prague), Spain (Zaragoza, Madrid).

Nikolaas made his debut in America in 2009 with the 1st piano concerto of Brahms. This debut was well received in the press, “One could almost imagine a young Brahms at the keyboard doing precisely the same thing: more intent on communicating his piece than dazzling listeners with his performance.” Since then he has returned to America annually and has toured in Texas (Houston, Austin, San Antonio), California (San Francisco, Fresno, LA) and Vermont, Florida, California, Texas, Washington DC and New York. In 2019 amongst others his debut for the ‘Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts’ in Chicago. He also performed in the Netherlands Antilles, Canada and South Africa, where several tours followed. In 2018 he made his debut in China with recitals in Bejijng, Harbin, Chongqing and Chengdu. Concerts in Shanghai, Xi’An, Yangzhou and Guangzhou followed in 2019. Also for the next seasons, concerts are planned in North America, Canada, South Africa and China.

As a chamber music partner, he was a member of the Narziss und Goldmund trio and the Rubens Ensemble. His duo with violinist Jolente De Maeyer, which has existed for almost 20 years, is often praised in the press for its exceptional synergy and harmony. The duo’s debut CD ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ was released by Warner and won a Golden Label from Klassiek Centraal for best chamber music album of 2016. De Standaard wrote about this: ‘You want to listen to this captivating recital album again immediately after the last track’. In 2020 their next CD ‘Remains’ was released by Evil Penguin Records.

Nikolaas studied in Antwerp with his parents, Heidi Hendrickx and Levente Kende, in Amsterdam with Jan Wijn and in Munich and Fiesole with Elisso Virsaladze. In addition, he studied with such artists as Murray Perahia, Aldo Ciccolini and Radu Lupu. In 2015, Nikolaas was appointed professor of piano at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. He has given masterclasses in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Texas, California and China.

Eric Taylor, tenor | US

The “Impassioned tenor” (Houston Press)  Eric John Taylor of St. George, UT is noted for the “exceptional quality of his tenor” (First Row). Mr. Taylor completed his Master of Music degree at Rice University, where he dazed audiences with his interpretations of Sam Polk in Floyd’s Susannah and the Emperor Tito in La clemenza di Tito. He was named the second prize winner in HGO’s 2021 Eleanor McCollum Competition Concert of Arias and currently is part of the Houston Grand Opera’s prestigious Sarah and Ernest Butler Studio. For HGO’s 2021-22 season, Taylor brought the Chevalier de la Force to life in Dialogues of the Carmelites and “brought sturdy voice and dignified demeanor” (Texas Classical Review).  First Armored Man in the Kosky production of Die ZauberflöteBenvolio in mainstage and outdoor performances of Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, and covered Don Jose in Carmen and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte.

Mr. Taylor returned this past fall to the Butler HGO studio and was featured onstage as Gastone in La traviataDon Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro, and Narraboth in Salome. Mr. Taylor also covered the roles of Mark in The Wreckers and the title character of Werther for Houston Grand Opera in their 2022-23 season. 

While pursuing his undergraduate degree in music at Westminster College, he performed several leading roles, including Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore and Rodolfo in La bohèmeLuis in The Gondoliers, in addition to appearing in Carmina Burana with Salt Lake City’s Ballet West. Taylor has participated in Apprentice Artist programs with Santa Fe Opera, Central City Opera, and Utah Lyric Opera. He was named a semi-finalist at the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions in 2017. Mr. Taylor covered the role of Rodolfo in La bohème at the Santa Fe Opera in 2019 and returned to the Santa Fe Opera in 2022 to perform the role of Melot in Tristan und Isolde and cover Don José in Carmen.

Mr. Taylor can be seen performing the title role of Faust at Wolf Trap Opera this July. He will be making his house and role debut singing the role of Lt. B.F. Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at Detroit Opera and Houston Grand Opera in the upcoming 2023-24 season. 

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9 December 2023
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Members Only
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