Instagram Facebook Twitter

Jose Franch-Ballester and Michael Brown

Clarinet and Piano


Music Room

Tickets are $30, $15 for members and students with ID; museum admission for that day is included.

image for 2015-03-22-sunday-concerts-ballester


The exceptional Spanish virtuoso clarinetist Jose Franch-Ballester makes his Washington, DC, debut with returning Sunday Concerts performer pianist Michael Brown. They present the Premiere Rhapsodie for clarinet and piano by Debussy, and sonatas by Brahms, Poulenc, and Leonard Bernstein. Franch-Ballester and Brown conclude their program with Benny’s Suite, a collaboration between the musicians that pays tribute to Benny Goodman, the great iconoclast of 20th-century clarinet.


Claude Debussy (1862–1918)
Première Rhapsodie for clarinet and piano

Johannes Brahms (1833–1897)
Sonata for clarinet and piano No. 1 in F minor, Op. 120


Francis Poulenc (1899–1963)
Sonata for clarinet and piano

Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990)
Sonata for clarinet and piano

Michael Brown and Jose Franch–Ballester
‘Benny’s Suite’ for clarinet and piano

About the Artists

A native of Moncofa (Valencia, Spain) Jose Franch-Ballester, is one of the most promising clarinetists of his generation. In 2008 he received the highly coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant, and in 2007 he was one of a handful of participants selected for a Carnegie Hall Professional Training Workshop with Emmanuel Ax and Richard Stoltzman, and one of the year’s “most prominent emerging soloists”, as selected by the American Symphony League Magazine.

As First Prize winner in both the 2004 Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York and the Astral Artists 2004 National Audition in Philadelphia, he has joined the roster of both organizations and performed countless concerts throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and South America.

Franch-Ballester is a member of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center 2 in New York, with which he has recorded Bartok’s Contrasts for Deutsche Grammophon.

He has played with such outstanding artists as Charles Wadsworth, Arnold Steinhardt, Warren Jones, Ida Kavafian, Frederica von Stade and David Shifrin, the Saint Lawrence and Jupiter String Quartets, and as a soloist with such orchestras as Orquesta de la Radiotelevisión Española, I Musici of Montréal and Orchestra of Saint Luke’s (New York), City of London Sinfonia. He is a founding member of Nuevo Tango Zinger Septet (Valencia), performing and recording the music of Latin America throughout Spain, and a frequent artist with the International Music Festival of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

He has commissioned new music and worked with contemporary composers such as Kenji Bunch, Paul Schonfield, Edgar Meyer, William Bolcom, George Tsontakis, John B. Hedges, David Schiff, Jake Heggie and Kevin Puts and has been a dedicated music educator, developing new audiences by playing countless educational concerts and workshops for young people and community audiences.

Franch-Ballester is in demand at numerous festivals, including Chamber Music Northwest, the Skaneateles Festival, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, Usedomer Musikfestival, and Verbier Festival.

Franch-Ballester has performed throughout the US, South America, Europe, Korea and Japan, and has played recitals in New York, Michigan, Philadelphia, Panama City, Colombia and Tokyo. He appeared as a soloist with orchestras such as I Musici of Montreal, Ridgewood Symphony, Vallejo Symphony, Orquesta of Valencia, Jove Orquesta de la Comunitat Valenciana, Whichita Falls Symphony, and the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra in New York.

Born in Moncofa, Spain in 1980 where he started his musical studies since age 9 with Venancio Rius Marti. He graduated in 2000 from the Conservatoy Superior of Music “Joaquín Rodrigo” of Valencia and then he entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Donald Montanaro.

The New York Times has declared Michael Brown “a young piano visionary,” praising him for “a magnificent performance” and a “powerful technique and a vivid imagination.” He is First Prize Winner of the 2010 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition. As winner of the Juilliard Concerto Competition, Mr. Brown performed with the Juilliard Orchestra under New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert, and he performed a recital at Alice Tully Hall as winner of Juilliard’s 2012 William Petschek Piano Recital Award. Mr. Brown is an equally dedicated composer whose unique artistry is reflected in a creative approach to programming, where he often interweaves the classics with contemporary works and his own compositions. He has appeared on four continents, in such major venues as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2013 he spent his third summer as a participating artist at Marlboro Music.

Among the highlights of Mr. Brown’s 2013–14 season are his Carnegie Hall Isaac Stern Auditorium debut with the New York Youth Symphony; a recital at London’s Wigmore Hall with violinist Elena Urioste; a ten-concert European tour with violinist Caroline Goulding, including a performance at the Louvre; an appearance on Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series; a performance at Alice Tully Hall with his duo partner, cellist Nicholas Canellakis; and concerts at Spivey Hall, the Vancouver Recital Society, New Orleans Friends of Music, the DiMenna Center, Music Mountain, Bargemusic, Dumbarton Oaks, Danbury Concerts, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Mr. Brown’s recent schedule has also included engagements with the New Haven, Bakersfield, Roswell, and Santa Maria Orchestras; recitals at Dame Myra Hess Concerts in Chicago, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and Gilmore Festival’s Rising Stars Series; and performances at the Marlboro, Ravinia, Caramoor, Moab, Mostly Mozart, Music@Menlo, Beijing International, and Kyoto International music festivals.

His compositions have been described as “darkly alluring” by The New York Times and as “intriguing” by The Washington Post. He is the recipient of the 2011 Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Award and the 2009 Palmer-Dixon Prize from Juilliard. Recent commissions include a multimedia work for cello, piano, and film premiered in 2013 at New York’s Look & Listen Festival; a new four-hand piece for Bargemusic’s Here and Now Winter Festival, a set of songs for mezzo-soprano Naomi O’Connell; a new piano piece commissioned by the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation; Violin Sonata for the Tekalli Duo; and Folk Variations for pianist Adam Golka. Constellations and Toccata, written for pianist Orion Weiss, was premiered at the Kennedy Center in January 2012. Mr. Brown’s compositions have also been performed at the Tanglewood, Ravinia, and Olympic Music Festivals, as well as in such New York venues as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, (Le) Poisson Rouge, SubCulture, and Bargemusic. He is a member of Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI).

Mr. Brown’s debut solo CD, featuring works by Schubert, Debussy, and Brown, was released on CAG Records in fall 2012. Upcoming CD projects are an all-Schubert disc for Naxos, a recording of solo piano works by George Perle for Bridge Records, and a four-hand album with pianist Jerome Lowenthal for CAG Records.

A native New Yorker, Mr. Brown began his piano studies at six with Herbert Rothgarber and later studied with Adam Kent. He earned dual bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano and composition from The Juilliard School, where he studied with pianists Jerome Lowenthal and Robert McDonald and composers Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser. He is a two-time winner of The Juilliard School’s Gina Bachauer Piano Competition and received the Raeburn Award for Artist of Special Promise from the 2009 Honens International Piano Competition. He has also worked with violinist Pamela Frank and pianists Mitsuko Uchida, Alfred Brendel, Leon Fleisher, Claude Frank, and Richard Goode