Meet the Musicians

Lily Arbisser, soprano

Lily Arbisser is an “individual-timbred soprano” (Opera News) whose voice “floats effortlessly” ( over the orchestra. Highlights of recent seasons include joining Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute in Chicago as a vocal fellow, winning first prize in the National Federation of Music Clubs’ Biennial Young Artist Competition, and a debut recital with Chamber Music Quad Cities (CMQC) in which she and pianist Thomas Sauer shared ten newly commissioned art songs setting poems by Iowan poets.

Lily frequents oratorio and operatic stages, and she is also dedicated to art song performance in both salon-style house concerts and traditional recitals. A snapshot of her broad repertoire includes Spanish, German, French, Italian, Russian, Yiddish, and Hebrew songs, music of contemporary American composers, and 12-tone compositions. She is enjoying a busy performance schedule this year, which began with a self-curated recital titled “Of Dreams” in Lenox, Massachusetts given alongside conductor/pianist Noah Palmer, featuring music of Rachmaninoff, Schubert, Wieck-Schumann, Weill, Debussy, Fauré, and contemporary American composers Nathan Shields, Emily Cooley and Sally Wyche-Coenen. Lily is also pleased to present multiple recitals with pianist Dimitri Malignan and his “Missing Voices” project, dedicated to introducing audiences to the music of Jewish composers who were persecuted in the Holocaust and reclaiming space for these important works on the concert stage. Lily then returns to CMQC with pianist Thomas Sauer and violinist Kyu Young-Kim for a program of Debussy, Weill, Reena Esmail, and Beethoven. Lastly, she joins her friends in the Ars Choralis choir of Woodstock, NY as the soprano soloist for performances of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

Lily’s artistry is grounded in the understanding gained from studying in the Libero CantoTM School of Singing with her teachers Deborah Carmichael and Kinga Cserjési. Libero Canto is a process-oriented approach which holds that the body instinctually knows how to sing but is frequently blocked by psycho-social factors that inhibit freer singing. From the perspective of the Libero Canto School, approaches to technique that are based primarily on conscious, muscular manipulation often fail to address these hindrances and create unnecessary layers of tension. Various exercises developed by the creators of Libero Canto, the Szamosi family of Hungary and Austria, aim to encourage release of these excess tensions through the process of making music. Lily is grateful for the access to the arts from a young age given to her by her wonderful parents and great Iowa public school and private music education. In addition to voice, she studied and distinguished herself on cello, French horn, and piano. At the age of seventeen, Lily was featured as the piano soloist with the Quad City Wind Ensemble in a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Lily graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University with a Bachelor of the Arts in Art and Archaeology and a Certificate in Vocal Performance. She also holds a Master of Music degree from Mannes College.

When not singing, she can be found outdoors cultivating her passion for ecological restoration and native plant gardening.

Kyu-Young Kim, violinist

Kyu-Young Kim, Artistic Director and Principal Violin of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, is widely recognized for his dynamic performances as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader. His appointment as the SPCO’s Artistic Director in January 2016 marks the first time a playing member has been tapped to take the artistic helm of a major American orchestra. Under his artistic leadership, the SPCO won a Grammy for its recording of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet in a new arrangement by violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja in 2018, and has toured to great critical acclaim throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Previously, Kim has toured throughout the world as a founding member of the Daedalus Quartet with whom he won the Grand Prize at the 2001 Banff International String Quartet Competition and was a member of Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Two Program. As a former member of the Pacifica String Quartet, Mr. Kim won the prestigious Naumburg Chamber Music Award. He has appeared as soloist with the Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) Symphony Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra of Poland, and the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. He has also served as guest concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and is an Emeritus Member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

Thomas Sauer, pianist

Pianist Thomas Sauer is highly sought after as soloist and chamber musician in a wide range of repertoire. Recent appearances include Carnegie Hall, St. John’s College, Oxford, and the Chamber Music Societies of Lincoln Center, Boston, and Philadelphia. With his long-time duo partner Colin Carr, Mr. Sauer has appeared at the Wigmore Hall (London), the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), and Da Camera (Houston). He has performed with members of the Juilliard String Quartet at the Library of Congress and given numerous concerts with the Brentano String Quartet.

Mr. Sauer’s varied discography includes recordings of Beethoven and Haydn piano sonatas (MSR Classics); solo music by Thomas Adès, Stephen Hartke, and Hans Abramahsen (Azica Records); with Colin Carr, the complete cello and piano works of Mendelssohn (Cello Classics) and Beethoven (MSR Classics); music of Hindemith with violist Misha Amory (Musical Heritage Society); music of Britten and Schnittke with cellist Wilhelmina Smith (Arabesque); music of Ross Lee Finney with violinist Miranda Cuckson (Centaur Records); and music of James Matheson (Yarlung Records).

Mr. Sauer has performed at many of the leading festivals in the United States and abroad, including Marlboro, Caramoor, Music@Menlo, Chamber Music Northwest, and Taos, as well as Lake District Summer Music (England), Agassiz (Canada), Festival des Consonances (France), and Esbjerg International Chamber Music Festival (Denmark). A faculty member of Mannes and Vassar Colleges, Mr. Sauer was the founder and director of the Mannes Beethoven Institute, a highly regarded summer program that ran for fifteen seasons.