The Catholic University of America

Oct. 22, 2013

Musicians to Mark 4th Year of Carnegie Hall Performances


Musicians from Catholic University’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music mark their fourth year of performances at Carnegie Hall as faculty artists and students who have been named 2013 La Gesse Foundation Fellows Oct. 28 through 30.

The performances, which take place at 8 p.m. in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, feature an evening of solo piano selections by students on Monday, Oct. 28; chamber music selections by students on Tuesday, Oct. 29; and faculty chamber music featuring cellist Michael Mermagen and pianist Nikita Fitenko with guest artist and clarinetist Giancarlo Bazzano on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

Noting that some of the students are undergraduates, Grayson Wagstaff, dean of music, says, “This is a particularly rare honor for an undergraduate musician to be featured as a soloist at Carnegie Hall.” 

Ivo Kaltchev, associate professor and head of the piano division who’s preparing the undergraduate pianists for their performances, says, “For any musician, performing at Carnegie Hall is very prestigious. It’s recognition of their talent and a significant milestone in their career.”

Kaltchev notes that “it takes a tremendous amount of work to prepare for this kind of performance. These students are practicing five to six hours every day. And for pianists, everything is performed from memory. In order to master all technical and artistic aspects of a piece as well as to find their own personal interpretation, pianists need to live with music for a long time.”

Two of this year’s La Gesse fellows are siblings — Esther Nyberg, senior piano performance major, and her brother Martin, a freshman economics major, who is minoring in cello performance. Members of a musical family, the Nybergs are from Chicago, where their mother is a piano teacher, notes Kaltchev.

The student pianists will give a free preview of their Carnegie Hall performances at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, in Ward Recital Hall. The preview is free and open to the public.

On Oct. 28, the pianists performing at Carnegie Hall include:
• Brian Billion, sophomore
• Esther Nyberg, senior, and
• Martin Labazevitch and Anna Nizhegorodtseva, doctoral students

On Oct. 29, performing chamber music selections, are:
• Nathan Blair, junior, and Labazevitch and Nizhegorodtseva, on piano
• Tatiana Chulochnikova, doctoral student, violin
• Fanny Nemeth-Weiss, doctoral student, and Martin Nyberg, freshman, cello
• Troy Paolantonio, doctoral student, flute, and
• Talya Schenk, doctoral student, viola

On Oct. 30, the performers include:
• Giancarlo Bazzano, La Gesse Fellow guest artist, on clarinet
• Michael Mermagen, associate professor, cello, and
• Nikita Fitenko, associate professor, piano

In addition, at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 30, the music school will host a pre-concert reception for New York City alumni and friends in the Rohatyn Room at Carnegie Hall. University President John Garvey is planning to attend. There is no charge for the reception, but reservations are encouraged. To register, call 800-288-2586 or visit

Concert tickets can be purchased online at, by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or by visiting the Carnegie Hall Box Office at 57th Street and Seventh Ave., New York. Alumni admission is $20 with a CUA alumni discount code. For questions, call the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at 202-319-5416 or email

Established in 1981 by Princess Cecilia de Medici, the La Gesse Foundation promotes young American musicians who have proven their artistry but need assistance in expanding their performing opportunities, according to the foundation’s website. Princess Cecilia de Medici is an alumna of the Peabody Conservatory and Catholic University.




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