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Meet the Musicians -- New York

The piano quartet for the Crescendo Chamber Music Project of New York, consisting of Heather Bixler, violin, Arman Alpyspaev, viola, Ben Larson, cello, and Michelle Butler, piano, will present the Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 60, by Johannes Brahms. Here are the musicians:

HEATHER MARTIN BIXLER is a classical violinist and Irish fiddler whose playing has taken her all over North America, Europe, and Asia. A graduate of Indiana University, The Juilliard School, and University of Memphis. She has performed in many major concert halls including Musikverein in Vienna, Carnegie Hall in New York, as well as concert halls in Tokyo, Barcelona, and Mexico City. In 1992, Mrs. Bixler won a first violin position in the Orquestra Ciutat de Barcelona in Spain and since then has held concert-master positions with South Dakota Symphony and Orquesta Sinfonica de la Mineria in Mexico City, and has worked as a substitute violinist with the New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, and American Symphony. Heather recently completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience at Columbia University and plans to research the influence of music on the epileptic brain. Heather lives in New York City with her husband, David Bixler. Heather is the Crescendo hub leader in New York City.

A native of Kazakhstan, ARMAN ALPYSPAEV, at the age of 9 years was selected to study at the Moscow Central Music School for gifted children.After finishing school, he joined a class of a world-renowned Professor Yuri Bashmet at the Moscow State Conservatory.Arman continued his studies in New York, where he successfully graduated from prestigious conservatories such as, the Juilliard school and Manhattan school of music, where he was awarded full scholarships.The geography of his musical career includes several continents, he has performed in such halls as the Weill hall at Carnegie hall and Alice Tully in New York, among others. As an active chamber music performer, he appeared many times at the prestigious chamber music series at Barge music in New York. He also performed extensively as part of string quartets such as the NYCQ and the Lumina.He took part in festivals such as the Juenesse Musicales in Australia, Bulgaria and Hungary, Spoleto Festival USA and Italy, Mozarteum in Austria, Manchester chamber music festival, Modern music series at MOMA, Classical Tahoe Music festival, Napa Valley and Colorado Music festivals in America.Arman frequently works as guest with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh symphony and the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. He also performed as a Guest Principal viola in orchestras such as the New York City Opera, the Miami Grand Opera, the Malaysian Philharmonic, the Brooklyn and Long Island Philharmonic.After returning from recent successful concerts in Kazakhstan at the Presidential Palace and the Organ Hall with the Academy soloists of Kazakhstan and successful master-classes, Arman is working on finishing his Doctorate degree in Music Performance.

Known for the energy he brings to the stage, cellist BENJAMIN LARSEN has forged a reputation as an avid chamber musician in the New York City area. His knack for adventurous programming comes through in his work as Artistic Director of the series, Concerts on the Slope, and in the projects that he spearheads, working with some of today’s most notable composers. He is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music, where he was the recipient of the Hans and Klara Bauer Scholarship, as well as the 2011 Pablo Casals Award. He spent a year playing with the band, The Left Banke, and attended summer festivals including Pacific Music Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Music@Menlo, and Castleman’s Quartet Program. Along with his wife, pianist Hyungjin Choi, he actively performs in the Larsen-Choi Duo, which champions new music, original compositions and sonata literature. He plays on a 19th century anonymous cello.

Classical pianist MICHELLE ALVARADO is a proponent of new and old music alike and loves collaborating with other artists to create beauty. She received her Masters at the University of Iowa and came to New York in 2013 to study at Mannes College of Music under Pavlina Dokovska. Through it all Michelle has been performing, teaching, and working with children at New York Kids Club and other ballet academies. She partnered with Hudson Valley composer Eric Starr to premier his 12 pieces for solo piano in March of 2017 at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo and has since then recorded them and performed them at the Weill Recital Hall. She is currently working on a new piece by Eric Starr for piano and cello to be premiered in the fall of 2021 at the University of Iowa alongside cellist Hannah Holman. Michelle currently resides in Brooklyn with her husband David.

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