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Independence String Ensemble

February 1, 2020 @ 2:00 pm

Preservation New Jersey welcomes the Independence String Ensemble (www.independencestringensemble.com) for a Saturday matinee classical chamber music program in the beautiful lighting and acoustics of the 1867 Sanctuary. The Independence String Ensemble presents Bach to the Future – a concert program that features works by Bach and works its way through history, beginning with the Baroque period and making its way to the composers of today.

The Independence String Ensemble consists of Michael Shingo Crawford (Violin) and Steve Kramer (Cello).

Michael Crawford

Michael Shingo Crawford is a Philadelphia-based composer and violinist interested in exploring narrative through his music, creating representational works that correspond to concepts and concrete events and objects. This often involves working with musical processes that generate material and symbolic structures. His work is inspired and informed by literature, visual art, dance, and his Japanese heritage.

Michael holds a Master’s in Music Composition from Temple University, where he studied with Emiliano Pardo-Tristan, Jan Krzywicki, and Adam Vidiksis. Within these two years, he received twenty-four premieres of his works, presented by performers including the PRISM Quartet, Sound Energy Trio, and Philadelphia Orchestra Musicians. His opera scene, Maximum Capacity, produced in collaboration with writer Traci Williams, was performed by ENAensemble as part of their Serial Opera Project in April 2019. His interest in collaborations has also brought him to work with choreographers in projects that brought together live musicians and dancers. In 2018, OWLchestra performed First Snowfall, his commissioned piece for string orchestra and piano. He was also selected as a finalist in the 2017 Costello Competition for Harp Composition.

As an active violinist, Michael performs regularly with ENAensemble in addition to freelancing. For both 2018 and 2019, he was concertmaster of Temple Composers Orchestra, a chamber orchestra dedicated to performing Temple student compositions. While at Emory, he served as concertmaster of the Emory University Symphony Orchestra and was the winner of the 2015-2016 Concerto and Aria Competition with his performance of the Barber Violin Concerto. He is also an arranger and performer of soundtracks. Over the summers, he has attended the Dalí Quartet International Music Festival, Philadelphia International Music Festival, Fresh Inc Festival, Eastern Music Festival, National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute, and Franklin Pond Chamber Music College Festival. He currently teaches private violin lessons at Music & Arts Lawrence Park.

During his undergraduate studies at Emory University, he studied composition with Richard Prior and John Anthony Lennon and violin with Shawn Pagliarini. He presented an honors composition recital in his senior year, where his music was performed by the Vega String Quartet, Elena Cholakova, and Emory’s student and alumni musicians. He was a recipient of the Louis B. Sudler Prize in the Arts, a prestigious award presented to the graduating senior who demonstrated the highest proficiency in one or more of the performing or creative arts at Emory.

Steve Kramer

Since becoming active as an international cellist and educator in the United States of America in 2010 and being sponsored in 2016 and 2019 for his extraordinary abilities as a musician, the enchanting and dexterous cellist, Steve Kramer, has proven to be one of the most prominent and colorful musicians of today, ascending into classical music’s highest class of performance and musical education. His silvery, singing tone, perspicacious intelligence, musical inquisitiveness and charismatic personality have led him to build memorable bridges to his audience while exploring versatile repertoire from the four corners of the world. His childhood experience studying the art of chamber music with Yehudi Menuhin and Peter Norris has most certainly contributed a significant element to his enlightening style and the invigorating and very expressive musical individuality that distinguishes his playing and teaching.

Steve Kramer is the award-winning recipient of the internationally prestigious Jacob Gade Foundation’s 36th Grand Prize. The prize supports an outstanding musician who possesses progressive and penetrating musicality and pizzazz and who desires to have a life-long career as a major international artist and performer. Since receiving the award in 1998, Steve Kramer has collaborated with composers from all over the world. In the near future he will perform contemporary music by composers David Finko, Ben Steinberg, Daniel Dorff, Sidney Grolnic, Eleonor Sigal, Andrea Clearfield, Cynthia Folio, Michael Shingo Crawford, and Victor Frost as well as compositions by Scandinavian composers and composers who lost their lives in World Wars I & II. Furthermore, Steve Kramer was awarded the 1994 Bernhard Rosenfeld Foundation Artist Prize, which supports outstanding musical children from families who emigrated from the former Soviet Union. In addition, he was awarded the Talent Prize and Gold Medal at the national music competition, the Berlingske Music Competition, in Copenhagen, Denmark, and garnered an Artist Prize given by Pope John Paul II in Orvieto at the Orvieto Musica festival in Italy. Numerous Danish foundations, including the Augustinus Foundation, the Royal Danish family and English benefactors, generously subsidized Steve Kramer’s early education.

In the 2014-15 season, Steve Kramer made his appearance as a soloist and chamber musician at the Barnes Foundation and the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. His recent invitations by patrons continuously bring Steve Kramer to Europe. In the U.S. Steve Kramer continues his passionate involvement with educating less privileged young people. He emphasizes the utmost importance of training children in classical music as part of their academic education. Children born into poverty receive free of charge lessons in his local community.

In 2012-13 Steve Kramer debuted at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall and Perelman Theater and the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Internationally, Steve Kramer has worked with such prominent European orchestras and chamber ensembles as the Yehudi Menuhin Orchestra, led by violinist Yehudi Menuhin; the Detmold Chamber Orchestra, led by violinist Tibor Varga; the Malmo Music High School Orchestra, led by violist Josef Kodousek, and the Royal Danish Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra and ensembles and orchestras in the Netherlands, France and Germany. He has also performed chamber music and recitals all over Scandinavia; in the Concertgebouw and Hermitage in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; the Wiener Musikverein, in Vienna, Austria; Barbican Hall, Royal Festival Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, England; and Le Corum in Montpellier, France.

Steve Kramer has performed as soloist or chamber musician for and received artistic direction from violinist Isaac Stern, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, violinist Maricio Fuks, violin pedagogue Milan Vitek, cellist Vladimir Chevel, cellist Heinrich Schiff, and members in the Alban Berg Quartet, the Amadeus Quartet and the Borodin Quartet. He has extensive experience playing in orchestras led by conductors such as Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Yuri Temirkanov, Kurt Masur, Bernhard Haitink, Neemi Jarvi and Mikhail Jurowski. Steve Kramer has appeared at festivals such as the International Kammermusik-Akademie Kronberg in Taunus, Germany; the Manchester International Cello Festival RNCM in England; the Cervo Music Academy and Orvieto Musica in Italy; La Fete de la Musique in Nice, France; Festival de Radio France in Montpellier, France; the Jeunes Prodiges Au Palais in La Grand Motte in France; and in Ajacio, Bonifacio and Porto Vecchio, Corsica. Steve Kramer has also worked for composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and adventurer and film-director Ivars Silis. He received artistic guidance and inspiration from Martha Casals, chamber music pedagogue Tim Frederiksen and composer Ib Nørholm.

Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Steve Kramer started playing the violin at the age of three with his grandfather, Vladimir Yeshayavitch Novak. Picking up the cello at age five, Steve Kramer soon continued his studies with his first formal cello teacher, Erling Blondal Bengtsson. He made his debut at 12 years of age, playing as a soloist while touring with orchestras in Scandinavia. He further developed his musicianship under the supervision of five other giants of classical music: violinist Yehudi Menuhin and pianist and composer Peter Norris, with whom Steve Kramer studied chamber music at the Yehudi Menuhin School in London; cellist Karine Georgian at the Hochschule fur Musik-Detmold in Germany; and private lessons with cellist Boris Pergamentshikov in Berlin, Germany, and cellist Alexander Sinelnikov in Jerusalem, Israel.

An American resident since 2010, Steve Kramer now devotes all his time in the United States, where he has been a most active performer of the cello and violin repertoire. He is working part time as an educator in music as well as the Director of Music at the Centre Theater in Norristown, in Montgomery County, where he is a proud member of Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board. Steve Kramer continues developing his artistic collaboration with the young generation of America, teaching emerging young artists from across the world and passionately devoting much of his time teaching underprivileged youth and bringing regular performances to the sick and infirm. Steve’s more recent endeavors involve teaching at a number of organizations including Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and Musicopia. Steve Kramer collaborates with Richard Galassini and Cunningham Piano Company and Septa and portrays chamber music in a myriad of ways, having established numerous ensembles, many of which are recognized for their highest quality. As part of an old European tradition of sharing the musical arts in intimate settings with friends and families, Steve Kramer puts great emphasis on performing chamber-music concerts, most recently at ‘Music at Lake Barcroft’, in collaboration with Dominic Cardella. In 2018/19 the Rachmaninoff Duo began promoting American and Danish compositions internationally, and continues in 2020/21. Most recent invitations brought the ensemble to Brazil: São Carlos, São José dos Campos and Piracicaba. This artistic series contained both recitals and master-classes, sharing the heart of America in music and honoring outstanding composers such as the great George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein, in celebration of his 100th anniversary.

Steve Kramer’s artistic and educational collaborations also include having the honorable position of Director of Music at The Veterans School for the Music and Arts, a subsidiary of Vance Community Partners, Inc. The Veterans School for the Music and Arts, with generous support from the Kal and Lucille Rudman Foundation, provides artistic outlets for veterans and first responders and their families and fosters artistic talent among them.

In addition, Steve Kramer provides performances and master classes in conjunction with Madam Tomoko Torii, the president/executive director and co-founder of the Harmony and Peace Foundation, which promotes world peace, focuses on making global and local societies better and seeks unity through cooperation.

Steve Kramer is a member of the Independence String Ensemble, a newly founded group which presents the highest-class performances, educational outreach, and master classes. The core ensemble, consisting of award-winning internationally acclaimed artists based in the United States, generates a string quartet and its subsets, which perform all styles and genres from the early renaissance to contemporary. The musicians collaborate with a wide range of artists, including pianists and wind players, who are accredited from the nation’s finest institutions.

Independence String Ensemble’s performance experiences have reached prestigious clients and the world-renowned concert halls, amongst them, Radio City Music Hall, Kimmel Center, MGM Grand, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Art Museum, Franklin Institute, Novo Nordisk A/S, Datwyler, and Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board.

Wheelchair accessibleThe 1867 Sanctuary Arts and Culture Center is wheelchair-accessible through a wheelchair ramp through the gate on the left side of the building. All parking is across the street in the Ewing Presbyterian Church lots, including an inner ring across the street for disabled parking. Passengers may be dropped off at the curb directly in front of the main entrance; please use your hazard flashers when stopped there. Concert parking is recommended in the north lot (by the field closest to I-295). For your safety, please cross at the marked crosswalk and press the yellow button to activate flashers.

To Purchase Tickets

  • $20 for General Admission
  • $15 for Friends of the Sanctuary
  • $5 for School and College students with ID
  • $15 per person for Groups of 10 or more**

Tickets can be purchased online or reserved at the box office for payment by cash, check or credit card by calling 609-392-6409 or emailing 1867sanctuary@preservationnj.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the door as space allows. (Sorry – we don’t mail tickets. Tickets will be held at the box office and a receipt will be emailed from PayPal if purchased online.)

**GROUP RATES (10 or more people). Group rates apply only to advance online sales and must be purchased in quantities of 10 or more within a single purchase. Group rate tickets cannot be purchased at the box office prior to the concert.

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For only $30.00 per year ($50.00 for families), members of the Friends of the 1867 Sanctuary receive  $5 off our General Admission concert tickets for ALL of 2020!


February 1, 2020
2:00 pm
Event Category:


1867 Sanctuary at Ewing
101 Scotch Road + Google Map