The new cohort includes five individual string players and one string quartet, who will begin a three-year residency next season


Photo: Jeff Fasano

The Viano Quartet

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The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) has announced its ten new Bowers Program artists, including two violinists, two cellists, one double bassist, and one string quartet. 

The participants, all between 22 and 32 years old, will spend the next three seasons fully integrated into every aspect of the CMS activities in New York including performances in the US and internationally. They will also work with the CMS education programme and on its recording projects.  

This year’s participants were chosen from 168 candidates and are from seven different countries including the US, China and Denmark.  

Cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han, co-artistic directors of CMS, said in a statement: ‘Each musician who makes it to the Bowers auditions finals is at the top of their game. While it is enormously inspiring to hear such playing, the uniformly high level makes it all the more difficult to arrive at conclusions. The CMS audience has a real treat in store, and we offer these extraordinary young players our heartiest congratulations and warmest welcome.’ 

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Photo: Matt Dine

Cellist Jonathan Swensen

This year’s participants include double bassist Nina Bernat. Alongside the Bowers Program, Bernat is also the recipient of the 2023 Avery Fisher Career Grant. The 22-year-old has won multiple awards including the Barbash J.S. Bach String Competition, the Juilliard Double Bass Competition, and the 2019 International Society of Bassists Solo Competition.  

Winner of the Senior Division 2019 National Sphinx Competition, cellist Sterling Elliott has performed with the Philadephia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra among others. The 23-year-old was the 2021 recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant and currently teaches at the Sphinx Performance Academy at Juilliard.  

Shanghai-born violinist Lun Li won first prize in the 2021 Young Concert Artists Susan Wadsworth International Audition. The 27-year-old has also won first prize at the Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach Competition 2021.  

Silver medalist of the 11th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, Julian Rhee has performed at multiple festivals throughout the US. In 2020, the 22-year-old won the Elmar Oliveira International Competition.  

Danish cellist Jonathan Swensen has won multiple awards and scholarships including the 2022 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Khachaturian International Cello Competition in 2018. Noted in The Strad for his ‘formidably assured technique and bold, expressive temperament’, Swensen released his debut recording Fantasia in September 2022.  

The only ensemble in the Bowers Program is the Viano Quartet. Violinists Lucy Wang, 26, and Hao Zhou, 26; violist Aiden Kane, 27; and Tate Zawadiuk, 25, won the Banff International String Quartet Competition in 2019. Since then, the quartet has performed internationally and is the inaugural June Goldsmith quartet-in-residence in Vancouver until 2025. Its focus throughout the residency will be to commission new works and lead community engagement initiatives.  

The Bowers Program began in 1994. Originally called CMS Two, it was renamed after Ann S. Bower in 2018 in recognition of her leadership donation that helped secure the development of the next generation of outstanding musicians. Since 1994, the programme has seen 101 individual artists and 11 ensembles complete the programme including Hilary Hahn, Alisa Weilerstein and Danish String Quartet.

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