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Dennis Russell Davies and Maki Namekawa playing piano
Dennis Russell Davies and Maki Namekawa

Other Minds welcomed back Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies for a benefit recital of solo and piano four-hands music to celebrate Davies’ 80th birthday at the Bell-McCarthy Studio in San Francisco’s Mission District on Friday, March 22, 2024. The performance was preceded by a dessert reception in honor of Davies’ milestone birthday.

For their fifth appearance with Other Minds, the duo performed a set of solo and four-hands pieces by Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, and John Cage. Rounding out the program was a piano four-hands arrangement of selections from Czech composer Bedřich Smetana’s monumental work Má vlast (My Fatherland), a set of symphonic poems composed between 1874 and 1879.


Bedřich Smetana

Má vlast
1. Vyšehrad
Maki Namekawa & Dennis Russell Davies, piano four-hands

Laurie Anderson

Bob & Bill
Dennis Russell Davies, solo

Philip Glass

Selected Piano Etudes
Maki Namekawa, solo

John Cage

Selections from The Seasons
Dennis Russell Davies, solo

Bedřich Smetana

Má vlast
2. Vltava (the Moldau)
Maki Namekawa & Dennis Russell Davies, piano four-hands

Dennis Russel Davies Program image

Click the image to download the full concert program.


Credit: Raymond Holbert

About Dennis Russell Davies

Dennis Russell Davies black and white headshot

Dennis Russell Davies was born April 16, 1944, in Toledo, Ohio, studied piano and conducting at New York’s Juilliard School, and developed a wide-ranging repertoire from baroque to modern. He began his career as principal conductor of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Since the 1980s, he has worked primarily in German-speaking countries and worked as GMD at the Württembergisches Staatstheater Stuttgart and as GMD of the Beethovenhalle Bonn Orchestra, the International Beethoven Festival, and the Bonn Opera. He was then chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra for many years and took over a professorship for conducting at the Salzburg Mozarteum from 1997 to 2009. From 2002 to 2017, he was opera director and chief conductor of the Bruckner Orchestra Linz and from 2009 to 2016 chief conductor of the Basel Symphony Orchestra. Since the beginning of the 2018/19 season, Dennis Russell Davies has been the artistic director and chief conductor of the Brno Filharmonie.He has been chief conductor of the MDR Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig since the 2020/21 season.

Over the course of his long career, Davies has conducted the most renowned orchestras in North America and Europe. As a guest conductor, he has conducted, among others, the Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and Yomiuri-Nippon Symphony Orchestra, and in Europe, among others, the Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, Berlin Philharmonic, Bamberg Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, German Symphony Orchestra Berlin, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala Milano, Accademia di Santa Cecilia di Roma, Orquesta Nacional de España, and St. Petersburg Philharmonic. After his debut at the Bayreuth Festival (1978 to 1980), he performed a diverse opera repertoire at the Salzburg Festival, Lincoln Center Festival in New York, Houston Grand Opera, Hamburg and Bavarian State Operas, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera in New York, Opéra National de Paris, Teatro Réal in Madrid, and at Vienna State Opera.

In addition to conducting, Davies devotes himself to chamber music and is active as a pianist. Since 2003 he has played in a duo with his wife Maki Namekawa. Both have recorded numerous CDs and are highly successful guest performers at home and abroad. In his career spanning over 50 years, Dennis Russell Davies has championed contemporary music while paying intensive attention to the broad symphonic repertoire. He had a lasting impact on the orchestras he led as chief conductor, among other things by opening them up to modernity and new audiences, such as through concerts with Till Brönner, Dave Brubeck, and Keith Jarrett, through busy touring activities, but also through constant work on the core symphonic repertoire.

Davies was already involved in the 70s and 80s with composers such as Philip Glass, Aaron Copland, Mauricio Kagel, Luciano Berio, John Cage, Hans Werner Henze, Leonard Bernstein, William Bolcom, Giya Kancheli, Arvo Pärt, Manfred Trojahn, Thomas Larcher, Chen Yi, Laurie Anderson, and many more. He conducted numerous premieres and first performances in concert and opera, including from the legendary Philip Glass trilogy Satyagraha and Akhnaten at the Stuttgart State Theater directed by Achim Freyer and Hans Werner Henze’s The English Cat and König Hirsch. In 1977, he co-founded the American Composers Orchestra in New York, which he directed for 25 years. There he dedicated himself to the task of providing a forum not only for US but also South American composers. Through the many compositions that he commissioned around the world over five decades, he helped write the music history of the 20th and 21st centuries.

But just like his contemporaries, he dedicated himself to the great composers of the symphonic repertoire: Shostakovich, Beethoven, Mahler as well as—inspired by his work in Linz—Anton Bruckner, whose entire symphonies he recorded in all versions. He performed all 107 of Joseph Haydn’s symphonies with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra over twelve seasons and released them as a complete recording. These are just fractions of his broad discography, which also includes all of the symphonies by Philip Glass and Arthur Honegger and the great ballet music by Igor Stravinsky, both in the orchestral version and in the version for piano four hands.

About Maki Namekawa

Maki Namekawa headshot

Maki Namekawa is a leading figure among today’s pianists, bringing to audiences’ attention contemporary music by international composers. As a soloist and a chamber musician equally at home in classical and repertoire of our time, she performs regularly at international venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center New York, Musikverein Vienna, Barbican Center and Cadogan Hall London, Citè de la musique Paris, Philharmonie de Paris, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, BOZAR Bruxelles, Suntory Hall and Sumida Toriphony Hall Tokyo, Salzburg Festival, Ars Electronica Festival, Musik-Biennale Berlin, Rheingau Musik Festival, and Piano-Festival Ruhr.

Maki records and performs frequently for major radio networks in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, and the USA. Orchestra engagements include Royal Concertgebouw Orkest Amsterdam, Münchner Philharmoniker, Bamberger Symphoniker, Dresdner Philharmonie, Bruckner Orchester Linz, Sinfonieorchester Basel, Filharmonie Brno, American Composers Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony.

In September 2018, Maki Namekawa released the piano version of Philip Glass’s soundtrack MISHIMA – A Life in Four Chapters that depicts the life and death of the Japanese writer and political activist Yukio Mishima. The arrangement was especially crafted for her by Glass’s longterm musical director Michael Riesman and features his crystal-clear technique. The recording was awarded the prestigious Pasticcio Prize by ORF—Austrian National Radio Broadcast. In June 2019, her recording Isang Yun | Sunrise Falling was awarded the Pasticcio Prize again.

In 2019, Philip Glass composed his first Piano Sonata especially for Maki Namekawa. She premiered the Sonata on July 4th, 2019 at Piano-Festival Ruhr in Germany in the presence of the composer. This Piano Sonata was commissioned by the Piano-Festival Ruhr, the Philharmonie de Paris, and the Ars Electronica Festival.

Together with her husband, the conductor Dennis Russell Davies, Maki Namekawa formed a piano duo in 2003 which regularly performs in leading venues in Europe and North America including the Piano Festival Ruhr, the Radialsystem in Berlin, the Salzburg Festival, the Ars Electronica Festival, the Lincoln Center Festival, the Morgan Library, and Roulette in New York City, the Philips Collection in Washington, D.C., and the Other Minds Festival in California. Major works written for the Namekawa-Davies Duo include Philip Glass’s Four Movements for Two Pianos, Chen Yi’s China West Suite, and Glass’s Two Movements for Four Pianos (with Katia and Marielle Labèque) all commissioned by the Piano Festival Ruhr. In July 2017, Maki Namekawa, Dennis Russell Davies and Philip Glass received the Piano Festival Ruhr Award. In 2019 Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi composed for the Namekawa-Davies Duo a work for 2 pianos and chamber orchestra Variation 57, premiered in Tokyo under the baton of the composer.

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