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Alice Sara Ott

Alice Sara OttAlice Sara Ott, born on August 1st, 1988 in Munich, Germany is a German-Japanese classical concert pianist. The daughter a German father and Japanese mother, she fell in love with the piano at the age of three when she went to a recital with her parents, which led the following year to her taking her first piano lessons.

As she remembers it practice was never a problem: "My mother," she recalls, "literally had to pull me away from the piano."

The speed of her rapid progress was apparent when, soon after her fifth birthday, she appeared in the final of a youth music competition at Munich's Herkulessaal.

Ott joined Professor Karl-Heinz Kämmerling’s renowned piano class at the Salzburg Mozarteum when she was 12 and flourished under his instruction.

In 2002, when she was just 13 years old, she became the youngest finalist in the history of the Hamamatsu International Piano Academy Competition and was named its 'Most Promising Artist'.

Her competition credits also include first prize in the 2003 Köthen Bach Competition and the 2004 Val Tidone International Music Competition.

German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott has gained critical acclaim for her performances at major concert halls worldwide and has established herself as one of the most exciting musical talents of today.

Ott appeared in the closing phase of the decade-long '100 International Pianists' series in Tokyo in 2006 and has since secured a large and loyal following in Japan.

Alice Sara OttHer desire to share classical music with the broadest possible audience has connected with people worldwide.

"I want to remove the notion that classical music is just something for rich educated people,” she says. “It's not. You don't have to be educated to enjoy classical music; you get educated by listening to it."

Ott's international career developed with a series of high-profile debuts in Europe, including a critically acclaimed performance of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major with Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra and David Zinman in 2006.

She scored a notable success in 2008 in Basel when she replaced Murray Perahia at short notice in recital. Her passion for making chamber music in company with other outstanding young instrumentalists led to invitations from major European promoters and to debut appearances at the 2010 Lucerne Festival and the 2012 Verbier Festival.

She has recently debuted with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Gustavo Dudamel), Chicago Symphony (Pablo Heras-Casado), Indianapolis (Krzysztof Urbański) and Toronto (Cristian Macelaru) symphony orchestras.

She also returned to Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks (Esa-Pekka Salonen) and toured with the Philharmonia Orchestra in China (Vladimir Ashkenazy) and the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Japan (John Storgårds).

Highlights of her 2015-16 season include concerts with Wiener Symphoniker (Pablo Heras-Casado), the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (Alexander Shelley) and London Symphony (Antonio Pappano) orchestras and Münchner Philharmoniker (Nikolaj Znaider).

Alice Sara OttOtt will also tour with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Charles Dutoit), hr-Sinfonieorchester (Andrés Orozco-Estrada), Sinfonieorchester Basel (Dennis Russell Davies) and Tonkünstler Orchestra (Yutaka Sado).

Recording exclusively for Deutsche Grammophon since 2008, her latest album, The Chopin Project, with Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds, was released in March 2015 on Mercury Classics.

The album reached No.1 in the Official UK Classical Chart and the iTunes chart in 25 other countries.

They will take the project on a European tour in September 2015, including performances in Copenhagen, Hamburg, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Frankurt, Paris and London.

She looks like a top-model, often takes the stage in a ball gown in her bare feet and, and admits to a great fondness for scotch.

At just 26, she is fresh from a sell-out tour, which included a performance with the London Symphony Orchestra, of Liszt's 2nd Piano Concerto, after which she shyly apologised for almost destroying the piano.

"The world of classical music is a very hard world and the people who survive are just a few. One minute you are very popular, four years later no one has ever heard of you. It could all be over tomorrow. That's what I want to avoid. I want to be around in 20 or 30 years, doing what I love, I don't want to be a shooting star."

She's an exceptionally beautiful woman - not at all adverse to doing photo-shoots that highlight her beauty, but does she feel any pressure as a female artist to exploit her sex appeal?

"I know where my limits are," she says. "If I do a photo-shoot I must feel comfortable. I know what I'll do and I know what I won't do."

She admits though that, as a female pianist, "very often you can be reduced to how you look" but goes on to say: "I think there are those who have something to say musically and who are musically convincing as well. This is what will survive, not the way you look."

Alice Sara OttThis German Japanese pianist continues to develop and reach new audiences with each successive season. In 2016-17 she continued her long, established relationship with Deutsche Grammophon, recording her eighth album, Wonderland.

Recorded with Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk with Esa-Pekka Salonen at the helm, the album features repertoire from Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg and explores the worlds of magic and imagination within Grieg’s virtuosic Piano Concerto, Lyric Pieces and Peer Gynt suite.

The 2016-17 season also saw Ott take the project on tour to Japan, Taiwan as well as Europe (Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Oslo).

She has worked with some of the world's leading conductors including: Lorin Maazel, Gustavo Dudamel, Charles Dutoit, Pablo Heras-Casado, Paavo Järvi, Neeme Järvi, Gianandrea Noseda, Andres Orozco-Estrada, Yuri Temirkanov, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sakari OramoOsmo Vänskä, Vasily Petrenko, Myung-Whun Chung, Hannu Lintu and Robin Ticciati.

Along with ensembles such as: Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and Wiener Symphoniker.

Ott’s 2017/18 season begins at home in Germany with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, followed by a tour with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.5 and concerts in the U.S. with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Paavo Järvi.

Alice Sara OttBefore the end of the year, she will join the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sir Antonio Pappano for Liszt's Totentanz, and will return to the repertoire of Wonderland to give a recital tour in China.

Returning to Europe in 2018, Ott will give concerts in Cologne (WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln), Paris (Orchestre National de France), Dresden (Dresdener Philharmonie) and Düsseldorf (Düsseldorfer Symphoniker).

In addition to her usual classical music performances, she has established strong relationships with a number of leading brands worldwide. Ott is Brand Ambassador for Technics, the hi-fi audio brand of Panasonic Corporation and her creative talents have also led her to design a line of high-end leather bags for JOST - one of Germany's premium brands.

Rooted in her Japanese heritage, the bags also include Origami elements and feature Ott’s hand drawn designs. Her talent reaches to smartphones - with her creation of stickers for one of the most popular communication apps, LINE, available for worldwide download.

What do the critics and music reviewers say about Alice Sara Ott...?

"It may be a shallow score, but no one could have been disappointed by Alice Sara Ott’s delivery of the solo part. Very much the protagonist in the dialogue with orchestra, she displayed staggering power while sustaining tonal depth. Her rock-solid technique, mixing spitfire virtuosity with extreme delicacy, allowed her to shape the work into something more than merely a showpiece." (The Telegraph, Novemebr 2017)

"Her octave passages took the breath away, and her dynamic range was wholly exceptional" (Robert Matthew-Walker, Classical Source, October 2017)

Alice Sara Ott

"The fierceness with which the climax of the minor-key variations was presented, turned out to be a foretaste of the Liszt sonata, which was unflinchingly raw and direct, with snarling basslines and razor-edged chords. The performance did indeed conjure up the kind of threatening world Ott had spoken of, but it was presented with such technical brilliance, so crisply and cleanly articulated, that nothing was overbearing or overinsistent, but always dramatic and absorbing." (Andrew Clements, The Guardian, October 2017)

"Alice Sara Ott proved a highly individual soloist in Beethoven's serious-minded Third Piano Concerto. It can seldom have been played with quite so much brittle clarity - it felt at times as if she was attempting to emulate the sound of a fortepiano on a heavier modern instrument, but it worked a treat in the Concerto's filigree passagework. (David Kettle, The Scotsman, May 2017)

"Alice Sara Ott gives a strong-centred account with plenty of power and flair. She displays a good range of expression, conjuring deep lyricism and light, glittering finger work." (BBC Music Magazine, February 2017)

"The German pianist brought off the old warhorse rather well, with a fiery cadenza, some gentle stroking and lots and lots of hammering cascades." (The Times, November 2016)

"A barnstorming rendition which gripped from first note until last, Ott gave an open-hearted response to the score, taking a gleeful gulp of air before diving into the emphatic opening chords. The first movement cadenza had an improvisatory feel, pouncing forward on the final note, almost bringing her nose to nose with the conductor. The finale was both playful and provocative... A knockout performance." (bachtrack, November 2016)

"Before the symphony, Alice Sara Ott had been the sparky, intelligent soloist in Liszt's Second Piano Concerto, doing her very best not to turn it into a sequence of show-off pianistic tricks, or to make it seem more grotesque and bumptious than it really is. Even if he could not make the single-movement concerto an entirely likable piece, she did conjure some pristine quiet playing out of it, making its more rampaging moments as elegant as possible. Her duet with the LSO's principal cellist Rebecca Gilliver in the third section was the quiet high point." (The Guardian, February 2015)

Alice Sara Ott

"Ott's fluent fingers captured well the music's poised lyrical serenity along with the "night music" dialogs for the piano and chirpy woodwinds” (John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, November 2014)

"The performances and recording are terrific, the sections of motoric rhythm in [Stravinsky's] two-piano version of The Rite seem made for the percussive character of the instrument, while some of the slower passages reveal more so than in their original garb. 'The Kalender Prince' provides lyrical contrast before La valse, deftly, brilliantly executed. Tristano's A Soft Shell Groove with its foot-tapping (literally) rhythm, is bound to find many friends among listeners and other two-piano teams." (Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone, July 2014)

"She gave an elegant and sparkling account of the Mozart variations. Her passagework was articulate, shapely and flowing... In her vibrant performance she drew out, more than in other performances I have heard, the quirky rhythmic complexities that churn below the seemingly jovial surface of the music." (Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, June 2013)

"Indeed, what was so impressive Sunday was how she was able to channel her obvious talents with such self-assuredness, maturity and élan, drawing an impressively nuanced tonal range from the piano and achieving a pleasing musicality throughout the afternoon." (Kyle MacMillan, Chicago Classical Review, June, 2013)

"This was music-making of the highest order." (Barry Millington, London Evening Standard, February 2013)

"Ott is a sensitive artist always in search of a distinctive timbre. Her playing vibrated with emotional fervor, underpinned by an elegantly discreet virtuosity. You may have heard this concerto many times, yet Ott guarantees something of a rediscovery." (Classical.net, April 2012)

Alice Sara Ott

"Alice Sara Ott is a fine young pianist. How did she acquire such mastery in her twenty-something years? Her technique was never in question; it was perfect, and what is more, she made beautiful sonorities. Her technique was used as a springboard towards making significant music. And in the second half she transported us to a higher plane. During my long life I have heard Gieseking, Cortot, Lipatti, Horowitz, Richter, Michelangeli, Schnabel, Brendel, Lupu, Perahia and many other great pianists – added to them now is Alice Sara Ott, no doubt about that." (Classical Source, November 2011)

"Ott's Beethoven is beautifully cleanly played, with subtlety and sensitivity alongside plenty of power and personality. The pedalling is minimal, and the veiled tone in the finale of Op. 53 is especially effective through half-pedalling the long phrases as is marked but often ignored, Her finger legato is pristine and the musicianship is never in question. The technical demands are superbly accomplished and whilst these are full-blooded readings they are conspicuously unhurried." (Beethoven CD - International Record Review, October 2011)

"Grieg's Piano Concerto starts big and builds from there. For some, its sound and fury signify not much at all but soloist Alice Sara Ott brought thoughtful engagement and a pleasingly warm tone to the piece. Quiet passages had a crystalline purity, and while she had ample power for the music's many tempests, she didn't use muscle just for the sake of it. In fact, her strength allowed a glorious flexibility in her rhythmic attack, so that she seemed to be playing both with and against the orchestra." (Evening Standard, August 2011)

"The piano concerto that came between the symphonies was Grieg's, with the young German-Japanese Alice Sara Ott as soloist, making her Proms debut. While it was good to hear live the qualities that shine through on Ott's recordings – the crystalline tone and prodigious range of colour, the perfectly even, crisp technique – the Grieg gives the soloist less interpretative latitude than many concertos, and it was a dazzling encore, Liszt's La Campanella, that displayed Ott's remarkable talent most convincingly." (The Guardian, August 2011)

Alice Sara Ott

"She played Grieg's horse chestnut with a fresh, clean attack and a poetic ease that lifted her above the pretty piano dolls who can't reach beyond technical brilliance. Ott has plenty of that, of course; but she wields her expertise with imagination and a freedom of spirit, something also apparent in her regular decision to play barefoot. Splinters must be a hazard, but she's an artist who clearly likes to feel physically loose. There was certainly flexibility in her playing, with heroic attack when needed, though she convinced more when underplaying, with the nonchalant fingers semi-detached, or when magic was spun from the finale's arpeggios or the slow movement's dream murmurs. Showier virtuosity came with her encore of Liszt's tinkling whatsit, La Campanella, articulated with the lightest and brightest of touches: you could almost see the fairy dust sprinkled over the keys." (The Arts Desk, August 2011)

Alice Sara Ott brings music by Grieg and Liszt to Chinese audiences this December with selections from her album Wonderland. As part of her recital tour, Alice performs in venues in Chongqing, Guangzhou, Beijing and Chengdu.



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