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Heilig Memorial Concert to feature four internationally known pianists

by Carol Davidge - October 20, 2008


The Twelfth Annual Charles and Alice Murray Heilig Memorial Concert, presented by the School of Fine Arts, brings to UConn a program by four internationally recognized pianists: Menahem Pressler, Frederic Chiu, Andrew Russo, and Neal Larrabee.

The concert, which inaugurates Jorgensen’s new Steinway Model D Grand Piano, will take place on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 3 p.m. in Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. Admission is free.

The concert is a tribute to the life of Charles Heilig (1920-2007), who with his late wife Alice Murray Heilig and their daughter Cheryl, have been major benefactors to UConn and the School of Fine Arts.

“This very special musical event for the public is our way of expressing our appreciation of a man who believed in us, who opened doors to the musical world for our students, and who enriched the artistic program at UConn and in the state,” says David Woods, dean of the School of Fine Arts.

Menahem Pressler, 84, an icon of classical music, founded and performed with the Beaux Arts Trio for more than 50 years, has recorded more than 80 albums.

He received his fifth Grammy nomination in 2006. His honors include a Lifetime Achievement Award from Gramophone magazine (one of only five ever awarded); Germany’s highest cultural honor, the Cross of Merit; and France’s highest honor, the Commandeur in Arts and Letters. He holds the Dean Charles H. Webb Chair in Music at Indiana University.

Frederic Chiu is an award-winning artist of the Romantic period. A non-traditional pianist, he is influenced by his Asian/American/European background and his exploration of artificial intelligence and human psychology. He has recorded more than 20 albums, including the works of Prokofiev. He is an artist-teacher at Indiana University.

Andrew Russo is a young, Grammy-nominated pianist. Classically trained, he specializes in contemporary piano, including electro-acoustic music and the hybrid world of live music and theater.

Menahem Pressler meets with Charles Heilig in this 2007 photo.
Menahem Pressler meets with Charles Heilig in this 2007 photo. Pressler is one of four pianists performing at the Heilig Memorial Concert Oct. 26. File photo by Tina Covensky

He is artist-in-residence at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y.

Neal Larrabee is a member of the New England Trio and heads the Piano Division in UConn’s School of Fine Arts.

He is highly respected in Russia for his interpretation of works by Russian composers.

“In addition to creating a tribute to Charles Heilig, we wanted the audience to hear the full range of the new Steinway Grand,” says Woods.

“To hear four internationally ranked artists in one program rarely happens."

The generosity of the Heilig family toward the University includes, in addition to the Alice Murray-Heilig Annual Concert Fund, the Alice Murray-Heilig Piano Fund; the Alice Murray-Heilig Scholarship; the Alice Murray-Heilig Graduate Assistantship in Piano; the Murray-Heilig Scholarship Fund; and the Alice Murray-Heilig Chair in Music, the first endowed chair in the School of Fine Arts.

The family also established the Murray-Heilig Chair in Surgery, the Murray-Heilig Chapel Endowment Fund, and the Murray-Heilig Chair in Molecular Medicine at the Health Center.

Charles Heilig was a member of the Foundation Board of Directors from 1987 to 1998

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