East of the River was founded by internationally renowned recorder players Nina Stern and Daphna Mor. The project explores gems of the medieval European classical repertory together with haunting and virtuosic melodies of traditions to the East, arranged and interpreted by musicians whose backgrounds include classical, jazz and world music. Together they create the unique blend that is East of the River.
Stern and Mor each have impressive careers as soloists and chamber music players and have appeared as a duo with groups as varied as The New York Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and world music ensemble Pharoah’s Daughter, in venues including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and the Music Before 1800 concert series. In East of the River they collaborate with acclaimed kanun virtuoso Tamer Pinarbasi, Balkan violin sensation Jesse Kotansky, and renowned percussionist John Hadfield. The group has performed at venues as various as Bargemusic, Joe’s Pub, and Le Poisson Rouge, on university campuses, and at the Chautauqua Institute, Connecticut Early Music, and Indianapolis Early Music festivals. They released their first album, East of the River in 2009 and their most recent CD, Levantera, in the spring of 2013.
Nina Stern (recorders and chalumeau) has carved a unique and extraordinarily diverse career for herself as a world-class recorder player and classical clarinetist. A native New Yorker, Ms. Stern studied at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland, where she received a Soloist’s Degree. From Basel, she moved to Milan, Italy, where she was immediately offered a teaching position at the Civica Scuola di Musica. Ms. Stern performs widely as a soloist and as a principal player with orchestras such as The New York Philharmonic, New York City Opera, Philharmonia Baroque, Opera Lafayette, and American Classical Orchestra. She has recorded for Erato, Harmonia Mundi, Sony Classics, Newport Classics, Wildboar, Telarc and Smithsonian labels. Ms. Stern was appointed to the faculty of Juilliard’s Historical Performance program in 2012 and has served on the faculties of the Mannes College of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, and the Five Colleges in Massachusetts. Nina Stern is a founder and Artistic Director of “S’Cool Sounds,” an award-winning music education project serving public school and underserved children in the US and Africa. (www.ninastern.com)
Daphna Mor (recorders and ney) has performed throughout Europe and the United States as a soloist and ensemble player. Her appearances include solo recitals in the United States, Croatia, Germany and Switzerland. She has performed as a soloist with The New York Collegium, the New York Early Music Ensemble and Little Orchestra Society, and as a member of the orchestra with the New York Philharmonic, New York City Opera and Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Ms. Mor was awarded First Prize in the Settimane Musicali di Lugano Solo Competition, and the The Boston Conservatory Concerto Competition. She is a musician in residence at B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue in New York City and is an active musician in the world music scene, performing in festivals and on stages around the world including New York’s “Summer Stage” and Munich’s Gasteig. She appears on Sting’s album If On a Winter’s Night. Ms. Mor is musician in residence for the Education Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is on the faculty of Marymount College (www.daphnamor.com)
Tamer Pinarbasi (kanun) born in Turkey in 1970, started his kanun lessons at the age of ten, appeared in the film “Haci Arif Bey” at eleven, performed with Necdet Yaşar at twelve, and made his first of hundreds of recordings at thirteen, with artists such as Orhan Gencebay, İbrahim Tatlıses, and Sibel Can. Tamer’s unique technical approach, playing with all ten fingers instead of two, as well as his knowledge of both the eastern modal (maqam) system and western harmony, paved the way for him becoming one of the world’s great kanun virtuosos. Starting at age seventeen, he began concertizing throughout Europe. Since coming to America, he has continued to develop his compositional and performance styles in many diverse musical environments, with ensembles including the New York Gypsy All-Stars.
Jesse Kotansky Born to dancers Stephen and Susan Kotansky, Jesse was exposed to and surrounded by Balkan and Middle Eastern music from the time he was a very young child. At age two he was given his first violin and had many opportunities to study and perform with master musicians from an early age. Jesse has bridged many worlds of music as a professional recording artist and performer with Aerosmith, David Bowie, Teddy Thompson, Merita Halili, Raif Hyseni, J Mascis, and Ivan Milev, just to name a few. Jesse is the co-founder of Brooklyn-based Indi rock band Walking Shapes, whose album has a February release date. He will make his film scoring debut in Blemished Light, scheduled to be released in 2015.
Percussionist John Hadfield’s dedication to bending genres has taken him from the jungles of Indonesia to concert halls and clubs across the world. Time Out New York recently wrote “John Hadfield’s percussion is so impeccable.” John has released two recordings of his own compositions, The Eye of Gordon (2008) and Displaced (2010). He is currently on the Jazz faculty of New York University, where he teaches drum set and the World Percussion Ensemble. His varied expertise has allowed him to perform with a broad range of ensembles and artists including: Yo-Yo Ma, The Silk Road Ensemble, The Saturday Night Live Band on NBC, Bang on a Can, The HUM Ensemble, Sky White Tiger, Deep Purple, Roc Nation Artist HUGO, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, Combo Nuvo, Daniel Hope, The Bassam Saba Ensemble, Ethos Percussion Group and Gamelan Dharma Swara. John has also collaborated on more than 70 recordings as a guest artist, including the GRAMMY award winner Yo-Yo Ma and Friends, Songs of Joy and Peace (SONY BMG 2008). (www.jhadfield.com)