Piano Spheres, a local organization that supports the composition and performance of major new works for piano in Los Angeles, has dedicated its 27th Season to Windsor Square resident Cathy Uniack. A longtime patron of contemporary music, Uniack, who is now retiring from the group, served Piano Spheres as Executive Director and Artistic Director for well over a decade and was an officer of the Piano Spheres Board of Directors for many years. Mentored by Piano Spheres founder Leonard Stein, Uniack worked with the small team that helped the organization grow. She had dedication, experience and great devotion to Piano Spheres as she guided the group through numerous challenges and successes.
“Cathy saw the uniqueness and potential of Piano Spheres from the get-go and was able to shepherd the organization through the transition period following founder Leonard Stein’s death to a surer footing of prestige and financial stability, Mark Robson, a pianist with Piano Spheres, told the Buzz. “Her curiosity about the new is boundless and her support of artists has remained unflagging and full of heart.”
For twelve years Uniack was Assistant to the Director of Monday Evening Concerts at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, working together with Lawrence Morton and Dorrance Stalvey. She also served as Vice President of the Board of Directors of Monday Evening Concerts in the 2000s, and she was a 2010 recipient of The Forte Award from Jacaranda Music for distinguished achievement in advancing new and modern music in Los Angeles. She holds the deep affection and gratitude of all who know her.
Piano Spheres supports and encourages the composition and performance of major new works for the piano. It enlarges the piano repertoire by commissioning new works and sustaining a concert series that focuses primarily on works by contemporary composers. It strives to serve the diverse communities of LA with excellent artistic experiences. Founded in 1994 by Stein and four of his most gifted students Gloria Cheng, Vicki Ray, Mark Robson and Susan Svrček, Piano Spheres has over the years been joined by HOCKET ensemble (Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff) and Aron Kallay as core artists, and now hosts an Emerging Artist series of young gifted concert pianists, a summer jazz series focusing on known and emerging jazz pianists and has initiated the Leonard Stein Residency for historically underrepresented groups.
Piano Spheres annual programming consists of a Core Artist series of piano music composed primarily by 20th and 21st century composers, as well as its Emerging Artist series and Summer Jazz series. Regularly presenting 10-12 concerts at venues like Zipper Concert Hall, Thayer Hall and REDCAT in downtown LA, and Emerging Artist workshops at Pasadena Conservatory of Music, Piano Spheres continues its mission to present the finest in contemporary and non-traditional music for the piano while encouraging and supporting the composition of major new works and mentoring the next generation of emerging pianists. Through more than 28 seasons of uninterrupted concerts, Piano Spheres has presented more than 820 contemporary works for the piano, of which 100 were premieres and 376 were written by American composers. 93 of these new works were composed by women and 47 were commissioned by Piano Spheres.
Piano Spheres recently announced the appointment of pianist William Chapman Nyah as the organization’s first Leonard Stein Resident Artist for the 2022/23 Season. The Stein Artist Residency is a new performance and project-based program dedicated to locating, supporting and presenting pianists from historically underrepresented groups who specialize in the performance of contemporary classical music. Dr. Nyaho will perform a solo recital on Piano Spheres Core Artist series in 2023 and will also participate in several educational projects that will shine a light on his life’s work of researching, performing and teaching the music of the African Diaspora.
May 24 Piano Spheres hosts guest artist David Kaplan in a program of “Ph(f)antasy(ies)” in Zipper Hall, and its jazz series begins with pianist Jamael Dean July 23, the Cathlene Pineda Quartet July 30, and the Paul Cornish Quartet August 13 in Thayer Hall at The Colburn School.
Backstage with the Buzz is written by Sheila Tepper, Producer Cultural Programming. Sheila has lived in the Larchmont area for fifty years, among her passions have been passing legislation for children with disabilities and interviewing outstanding artists appearing in the Los Angeles area.
One thought on “Backstage with the Buzz: Piano Spheres and Cathy Uniack”
Well researched and written spotlight on a Windsor Square treasure by a fellow Windsor Square treasure. Art and culture, particularly amid these complicated times are essential. Thank you for featuring this contributor and these stories.