2020 Gala

CAG Connections: A Virtual Gala Event

An evening celebrating CAG’s growing programs,
partnerships, and musicians!

Premiering Monday, September 21, 2020

Performances | Live Auction

Artistic Honoree:
Jennifer Koh, 2020 CAG Virtuoso Award Recipient


Recognized for intense, commanding performances, delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance, violinist Jennifer Koh is a forward-thinking artist dedicated to exploring a broad and eclectic repertoire, while promoting diversity and inclusivity in classical music. A 1994 winner of the CAG Competition, Jennifer has blazed her own trail, expanding the contemporary violin repertoire through a wide range of commissioning projects and premiering more than 70 works written especially for her. Her quest for the new and unusual, sense of endless curiosity, and ability to lead and inspire a host of multidisciplinary collaborators, truly set her apart.

Jennifer has initiated many critically-acclaimed series, including Limitless, a collaborative commissioning project with leading composer-performers; The New American Concerto, featuring works composed for her by Vijay Iyer and Christopher Cerrone; and Bach and Beyond, which traces the history of the solo violin repertoire from Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas to 20th- and 21st-century composers.

Jennifer is the Founder and Artistic Director of arco collaborative, an artist-driven nonprofit that fosters a better understanding of our world through a musical dialogue inspired by ideas and the communities around us. The organization supports artistic collaborations and commissions, transforming the creative process by engaging with specific ideas and perspectives, investing in the future by cultivating artist-citizens in partnership with educational organizations.

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Featuring CAG Artists

Hailed by the New York Times as “radiant,” Irish actor and mezzo-soprano Naomi Louisa O’Connell is one of the most versatile performers of her generation. She has performed in venues including Carnegie Hall, Brazil’s Sala São Paulo, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, and the Marlboro Music Festival. Her recital performances have been broadcasted on WQXR, PBS, and the Metropolitan Museum Live Arts Series. In 2016, she joined the Cincinnati Symphony for their Pelléas Trilogy, playing the role of Mélisande in a new translation of the Maeterlinck play Pelléas & Mélisande. Her international operatic credits include leading roles at Frankfurt Opera, Welsh National Opera, Geneva Opera, Atlanta Opera and Garsington Opera. A gifted musician and natural performer, Naomi deftly balances her love of the stage with that of song, which led to her First Prize victory at the 2011 CAG Competition.



Lauded for its “stunning virtuosity and ensemble work,” the Merz Trio has been hailed as “riveting,” with “fresh and surprising interpretations” (Reading Eagle). Formed in 2017, the Trio has made a sweep of top US competitions, taking Gold Medals at the 2019 Fischoff and 2018 Chesapeake Competitions and being named a winner of the 2019 CAG Competition. The ensemble’s 2019-20 season included performances at Boston’s Jordan Hall, NYC’s Sheen Center, and the Chicago Cultural Center, along with residencies at Snape Maltings and Yellow Barn. Past major appearances include the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, the Melbourne Town Hall, and Aldeburgh’s Jubilee Hall. The Trio has been featured in live performances on BBC Radio 3, Australia’s Classic FM, and Chicago’s WFMT Radio. The ensemble has also created an original recital theater piece, “Those Secret Eyes,” an immersive concert experience based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth that combines chamber performance, spoken text, and dance.

Cellist Jamal Aliyev made his debut in 2019 with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the St. Magnus Festival, broadcastby BBC Radio 3. Over the last season, Jamal has appeared as soloist with the City of Birmingham Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, and London Mozart Players, and gave recitals across Turkey with renowned pianist Fazil Say, including at the Ataturk Culture & Congress Center and the TIM Maslak Show Center. He was selected by the UK-based Young Classical Artists Trust in 2017 and was named a winner of the CAG Competition in 2019. Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, Jamal studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and at the Royal College of Music with Thomas Carroll, where he completed his Masters. He is currently undertaking an Artist Diploma at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London.




Chinese pianist Wynona Wang was selected as the First Prize Winner of the 2018 CAG Competition. This win was one of several in a series of impressive first-prize performances, along with the 2019 “Charlotte White” Career Grant from the Salon de Virtuosi in New York City and the 2017 Wideman International Piano Competition in Louisiana. Her 20-21 season highlights include performances at Oklahoma’s OKM Music Festival, the National Gallery in Washington, DC, and the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, FL. Born in Beijing, Wynona began playing the piano at age 4. In fall of 2016, she was awarded a full scholarship for her Performer’s Diploma at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where she studied under pianist Alessio Bax. She currently lives in New York while pursuing her undergraduate degree at The Juilliard School as a student of Dr. Robert McDonald.


Monday, September 21

7:30 – 8:30pm Video Premiere

~ Festive Attire from home! ~

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