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First Fridays at First! ~ fff
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2023-2024 Concert Series

First Lutheran Church of Torrance

Classical Crossroads' First Fridays at First!~fff concerts are graciously hosted as a gift to the community by FirstServe Community Services, the nonprofit community service partner organization of First Lutheran Church & School – Torrance. The finest artists from Southern California and around the world perform half-hour lunchtime recitals.

2900 W. Carson Street, Torrance, CA 90503
(on the south side of Carson Street just east of Maple)
For a Google map, click here.

For information, call Classical Crossroads at (310) 316-5574 or click here.

Free admission - Donations Appreciated

Click to see "First Fridays at First! ~ fff" past seasons:
[2000-2013] [2013-2014] [2014-2015] [2015-2016]
[2016-2017] [2017-2018] [2018-2019] [2019-2020]
[2020-2021] [2021-2022] [2022-2023]

Concerts Are Performed in Front of a Live Audience
and Simultaneously Livestreamed at the Scheduled Concert Time

Advance Reservations Requested to Attend in Person
Email: by a day ahead and request to be included on the check-in list with the names of your guests.

With consent of the artists, the concerts may be made available for on-demand streaming from Classical Crossroads' Vimeo Showcase for about a month, beginning a few days following the concert.

To appreciate the livestreamed concerts, you are encouraged to set aside time as you would for a live-audience concert, get comfortable, and watch on a large-screen TV with a high-quality soundbar. Alternatively, watch on an iPad or other quality computer screen with headphones.

Click here to sign up above for e-mail concert reminders, which will have the internet links to the Vimeo livestreams of the concerts, or check back here shortly before concert time.

Friday, September 1, 2023 at 12:15 p.m.

Beverly Hills National Auditions Winners
in a Shared Concert


Syrinx Reed Quintet

The Syrinx Quintet is bringing a new voice to the Southern California chamber music scene. Founded in 2018, Syrinx Quintet boasts a versatile and colorful combination of avid teaching artists with backgrounds from across the nation. Experienced in a wide variety of styles and comfortable in any venue, the ensemble offers bold and innovative repertoire - from the Renaissance to contemporary and popular genres.

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                                         Pianist                       Clarinetist/Pianist

Currently on the faculty at Cal State Northridge, award-winning pianist Jason Stoll holds degrees from CSUN, the Juilliard School, and the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

Acclaimed Los Angeles-based clarinetist Micah Wright earned his degrees from USC (D.M.A.), Rice University (M.M.), and Drake University (B.M.). Micah is on the faculty of California Lutheran University and also teaches at Pasadena Conservatory of Music.

Friday, October 6, 2023 at 12:15 p.m.

Part I of a Concert in Two Parts*

Cellist Emilio Colón  Cellist Cara Elise Colón  

Cellist/Conductor                           Cellist                                            Pianist
EMILIO COLÓN         CARA ELISE COLÓN                       STEVEN                                                                                            VANHAUWAERT

Acclaimed as a passionate and virtuosic performer, Emilio Colón is highly sought after as a solo cellist, chamber musician, conductor, composer, and pedagogue. In 2017, Emilio was named Artist of the Year by the New York Classical Music Society. Notable appearances as soloist include the National Symphony of Ukraine, Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony of Istanbul, Reno Chamber Orchestra, and Guayaquil Symphony Orchestra. Emilio is on the faculty of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

Cellist Cara Elise Colón has performed in chamber music collaborations throughout the world. Most recently she was invited to perform with the Perak Society of Performing Arts (PSPA) International Ensemble on tour in Malaysia, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Chamber Series and the Ware Center Concert Series in Pennsylvania, the Mammoth Lakes Music Festival, the Killington Music Festival in Vermont, and the Fundación Musical Chamber Series in Puerto Rico. Cara has held positions on the faculty of the Indiana University String Academy and the Indianapolis Academy of Music.

Hailed by the Los Angeles Times for his "impressive clarity, sense of structure and monster technique," Steven Vanhauwaert made his solo debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall, and has appeared in some of the world's leading venues, including the National Center of the Performing Arts, the Forbidden City Theatre in Beijing, the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, the Concertgebouw in Brugge, the Great Hall of the Budapest Liszt Conservatory, Segerstrom Hall, and the National Philharmonic Hall in Kiev. Mr. Vanhauwaert is a Steinway Artist.

* Part II of this concert followed on Classical Crossroads' "Second Sundays at Two" series.

Friday, November 3, 2023 at 12:15 p.m.


Violinist Andrew Sords  John Walz, cello  Timothy Durkovic, piano

                    Violinist                                 Cellist                                 Pianist
        ANDREW SORDS                JOHN WALZ        TIMOTHY DURKOVIC

Three internationally acclaimed orchestral soloists and good friends -- violinist Andrew Sords, cellist John Walz, pianist Timothy Durkovic -- share their passion for chamber music with the audience. Andrew trained at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Southern Methodist University. John is a student of the legendary French cellist, Pierre Fournier. A Steinway Artist, Timothy trained at the National Conservatory of Guatemala, the Juilliard School, Salem College, and the USC Thornton School of Music.

Friday, January 5, 2024 at 12:15 p.m.

Beverly Hills National Auditions Winners


Pianist Tomomi Sato  Violinist Yue Qian

                                      Pianist                                          Violinist
TOMOMI SATO                             YUE QIAN

Tomomi Sato and Yue Qian met during their time together at Juilliard and are continuing their collaboration as Duo Syncopa at USC.

Formed in 2017 from a shared passion for the music of Robert Schumann, Duo Syncopa is woven together by the artistry of violinist Yue Qian and Tomomi Sato. In the 2023-2024 season, they present a wide variety of programs throughout the United States. The name Syncopa derives from one of Schumann’s favorite compositional devices – syncopation - a key element that both inspires and challenges the nuances of duo playing.

Chinese violinist Yue Qian enjoys music-making and cherishes its communicative power. With recent appearances at Verbier Festival, Ravinia Steans Music Institute, Beijing Modern Festival and more, Yue contributed to NAXOS China’s “JADE” album, celebrating contemporary Chinese compositions. Beyond concert stages, Yue has contributed to outreach trips with Midori in Los Angeles, Mexico, and Sri Lanka, and currently teaches chamber music at Colburn School CSPA. Yue holds degrees from Juilliard (MM) and USC (BM, DMA), mentored by Midori
Goto, Ronald Copes, Sylvia Rosenberg, Bing Wang, and Yura Lee. Yue plays a 1731 Testore, on generous loan from Ravinia Steans Music Institute.

Japanese pianist Tomomi Sato has built a multifaceted career as a performing solo and collaborative artist, curator, and educator. A prizewinner of the 2013 Seattle International Competition, she has graced stages throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Tomomi’s 2023-2024 season highlights a concerto appearance with the Classical Music Institute Orchestra in San Antonio, a recital tour in Japan, and a national tour as a member of the classical crossover trio, TAKE3. Critically acclaimed for her expansive repertoire knowledge and genre-defying prowess on the keyboard, Tomomi’s festival credits include Music Academy, Tanglewood Music Center, and SongStudio.

Friday, February 2, 2024 at 12:15 p.m.

Beverly Hills National Auditions Winner


Violist Daniel Miles  Pianist Cameron Akioka

                                      Violist                                          Pianist
                            DANIEL MILES                  CAMERON AKIOKA

Violist Daniel Miles received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 2020 and a Master’s degree from the USC Thornton School of Music in 2023, studying with Karen Dreyfus. He is joined by his USC classmate, pianist Cameron Akioka, who played a solo recital on the series last season as the winner of Peninsula Symphony’s Edith Knox Concerto Competition.

Friday, March 1, 2024 at 12:15 p.m.

New Orleans International Piano Competition Winner


ViktorValkov, piano

Winner of the 2012 New Orleans International Piano Competition, Bulgarian-born pianist Viktor Valkov has been hailed as a "lion of the keyboard" and "sensational" (Wiesbadener Kurier). He recently gave a critically acclaimed recital in London's Wigmore Hall and appeared as soloist with the Louisiana Philharmonic, Baton Rouge Symphony, Acadiana Symphony in Louisiana, and the West Virginia Symphony. Mr. Valkov has appeared as a recitalist worldwide at such leading venues as Carnegie Hall (Weill and Zankel Halls), the Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall, Sakura Hall (Tokyo), Heidelberg's Alte Aula, and Bulgaria Concert Hall (Sofia). In the U.S., he has collaborated in chamber music with Martin Chalifour and Margaret Batjer, among numerous others. Trained at the Shepherd School of Music of Rice University (DMA), The Juilliard School (MM), and the National Academy of Music - Sofia (Bachelor of Music), Mr. Valkov is on the faculty of the University of Utah School of Music.

Friday, April 5, 2024 at 12:15 p.m.

From Belgium

Jolente De Maeyer, violin and Nikolaas Kende, piano

                          Pianist  NIKOLAAS KENDE  &

One of Belgium's leading 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. 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 has been Professor of Violin at the Conservatory of Tilburg, the Netherlands.

Pianist Nikolaas Kende has been praised for his poetic playing and passionate musicality. A winner of several competitions, Nikolaas regularly performs in leading halls in Belgium and the Netherlands, including performances of the Brahms, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, and Bartók concertos with the Brussels Philharmonic, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, and also with the National Radio Orchestra Romania. Nikolaas studied in Antwerp with his parents, in Amsterdam with Jan Wijn, in Munich and Fiesole with Elisso Virsaladze, and with such noted artists as Murray Perahia, and Radu Lupu. In 2015, Nikolaas was appointed Professor of Piano at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp.

Friday, May 3, 2024 at 12:15 p.m.

Winner of the 2024 Peninsula Symphony
Edith Knox Performance Competition


Violinist Ezra Shcolnik is pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree at the Colburn Conservatory, where he studies with Robert Lipsett. This season, Ezra appears as a soloist with several orchestras in Southern California, including the Colburn Orchestra, the Pasadena Community Orchestra as the top prizewinner of the 2024 Young Artist Competition, the Peninsula Symphony as the top prizewinner of the 2024 Knox Competition, and the San Fernando Valley Symphony. Previously, he appeared with the New Mexico Philharmonic. Ezra is also a composer whose music has been performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, USC Thornton Edge, and Colburn Academy Virtuosi. At age twelve, he performed a composition of his own as a soloist with the Performance Santa Fe Orchestra.

An active orchestral musician, Ezra serves as concertmaster of the California Young Artists Symphony and in various principal positions with the Colburn Orchestra. He has also served as associate concertmaster of the Aspen Chamber Symphony and the Performance Santa Fe Orchestra. Summers have found Ezra studying chamber, solo, and orchestral repertoire under the guidance of esteemed artist faculty at the Aspen Music Festival as the recipient of several fellowships, as well as at the Perlman Music Program. Outside of music, Ezra enjoys exploring new places and eating good food.

Pianist Hsin-I HuangEzra’s collaborative pianist Hsin-I Huang has been praised on concert stages in Germany, Russia, Japan, Canada, Taiwan, and Korea. In the U.S., she has collaborated with LACO Concertmaster Margaret Batjer and Principal Cellist Andrew Shulman, NY Phil Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples, LA Phil cellist Tao Ni, and noted violinist Simone Porter, to name a few. She regularly collaborates with students in master classes of Robert Lipsett and Clive Greensmith at the Colburn School. Hsin-I Huang earned an undergraduate degree from National Taiwan Normal University, a Master’s degree from Boston University, and a Graduate Certificate from USC’s Thornton School of Music, where she studied with Antoinette Perry.

Watch a Reprise of the Livestream
With the artists’ approval, a reprise of the livestreamed concert is available to stream-on-demand for a months. Watch by clicking:

Friday, June 7, 2024 at 12:15 p.m.

Part I of a Concert in Two Parts*

From the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

 Dmitri Atapine, cello & -Hyeyeon Park, piano

                                           Cellist                               Pianist
                              DMITRI ATAPINE   &   HYEYEON PARK

Acclaimed cellist Dmitri Atapine has been described as an artist with "brilliant technical chops" (Gramophone), whose playing is "highly impressive throughout" (The Strad). He has appeared on some of the world's foremost stages, including Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Zankel and Weill halls at Carnegie Hall, Forbidden City Concert Hall, National Taipei Concert Hall, and the National Auditorium of Spain. An avid chamber musician, Mr. Atapine performs with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He is Professor of Cello at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Described as "a pianist with power, precision, and tremendous glee" (Gramophone Magazine) and praised as "very sensitive" (Washington Post), Hyeyeon Park has appeared on leading concert stages throughout the world, including on the Dame Myra Hess Recital Series in Chicago; the Trinity Wall Street Series, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, and Merkin Recital Hall in New York City; the Philips Collection and Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; and the Seoul Art Center. She is Professor of Piano at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Watch a Reprise of the Livestream
With the artists’ approval, a reprise of the livestreamed concert is available to stream-on-demand for a months. Watch by clicking:

* Part II of this concert follows on Classical Crossroads'
"Second Sundays at Two" series.

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