Le Salon de Musiques - MASTERS REDISCOVERED
Founder & artistic director
Acclaimed French-American pianist François Chouchan is a sensitive and generous artist whose beauty of sound, clarity of texture and integrity of interpretation have been highly praised. The “neo-romantic melodist” likes to consider himself as “an emissary of love.” Since the beginning of his career, Chouchan has been completely involved with his audience.
“Playing music is a true act of love,” he says. “The intimate relationship with the public is essential. During my performances, I invite people to embark with me for a unique inner journey. Opening my heart, I share my deep feelings and emotions with them. I become transparent, almost vulnerable. I narrate a story. Each note becomes a word and each melody a sentence. It is very intense, sensual and fusional.”
Chouchan has appeared in recitals, and with orchestras and chamber music ensembles on several continents. Instructed by Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen, Germaine Mounier and Jean Hubeau at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris, he was unanimously awarded first prize in Piano and Chamber Music. As the third prize winner of the prestigious Viotti International Piano Competition in Italy, he was invited to perform for several Masters, including Mstislav Rostropovich, Nikita Magaloff, Georgy Sebok and Magda Tagliaferro.
A Franz Schubert specialist, Chouchan exemplifies the beauty of the Austrian Master’s scores with his exquisite touch and richness of colors.
“I always had a very strong connection with Franz Schubert,” he says. “His spirit seems to be linked to my heart. His music transcends the time and centuries. It seems to me that Schubert used his music as a mirror, a therapy. Expressing his loneliness, pain and melancholy, his scores evoke his furtive hope, sadness, candor and disillusion. They talk about his contrition and resignation. His music is totally unique and divine.”
An active chamber music player, Chouchan likes to reintroduce and play forgotten scores written by wonderful Romantic and Neo-Romantic composers. “So many gems have been kept inside the drawers forever,” he says. “It is my goal and expectation to take them out. The world deserves to rediscover them.”
A creative person, Chouchan is also a composer of melodic soundtracks for films. He has also collaborated with different contemporary ballet companies, performing Schubert Cycle “Winterreise” for baritone and piano with two dancers as a world premiere.
In 2007, Chouchan relocated in Los Angeles. He has performed in many famous venues, including the LACMA, Schoenberg Hall, California State University’s Long Beach, Northridge the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, Brandeis-Bardin Institute, L’Ermitage Foundation, Music Academy of Santa Barbara, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, St. Mary’s Church in New Orleans, and the California Club of Los Angeles. He also performs regularly in France. In 2010, Chouchan founded Le Salon de Musiques, an intimate chamber music concert series held in Los Angeles for 11 years. In 2021, artistic director Chouchan relocated to the San Diego area, and so did the concert series. For more information, visit www.Francois-Chouchan.com.
Conducting appearances have taken Mehta across the United States, to Europe and to Mexico. He has been a guest of the San Diego Symphony, the New World Symphony the Knoxville Symphony, the Fine Arts Chamber Orchestra of Mexico City, and the San Diego Chamber Orchestra. He has appeared as violin soloist with the San Diego Symphony, the Marquette Symphony, the Ann Arbor Symphony, the San Diego Chamber Orchestra, the American Youth Symphony, and as concertmaster and soloist with the New World Symphony.
Since 2004, as Artistic Director of the Ventura Music Festival Association, Mehta has expanded the range of festival concerts adding community outreach, On Stage Talks and Up Close events with artists. Today, the Ventura Music Festival presents the most illustrious artists in the worlds of classical music, jazz and crossover. Mehta is a graduate of Indiana University and The Juilliard School. He studied violin with Josef Gingold, Szymon Goldberg, David Cerone, and in masterclasses with Nathan Milstein. Conducting teachers include Otto Werner Mueller, and Charles Bruck and in masterclasses with Leonard Bernstein.
He lives in Jamul, California.
Dr. Kristi Brown
As a public scholar, educator, and musicologist, Dr. Kristi Brown-Montesano finds joy in teaching people about music and culture. For nearly two decades (2003–2022), she served as a faculty member and chair of music history at the Colburn Conservatory of Music, but has broadened her “classroom” in recent years to include many different types of students and audiences.
Currently a Lecturer in Musicology at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music, Brown-Montesano also works as a scholar-educator with many of Southern California’s most distinguished musical organizations, including the Los Angeles Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, La Jolla Music Society, and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. Having served as a “musicological host” for Le Salon de Musiques when the series was based in Los Angeles, she is delighted to rejoin this unique concert experience in beautiful La Jolla.
A respected opera scholar, Brown-Montesano authored the book Understanding the Women of Mozart’s Operas (University of California Press, 2007), offering fresh critical takes on the female roles in the Da Ponte operas and The Magic Flute. The feminist lens of the book has attracted a growing audience of readers interested in the ethics of opera culture and production; in fact, the book was re-released as a paperback in 2021. Brown-Montesano has also presented and published essays on a wide variety of topics including classical music in contemporary culture (use in media, initiatives targeting families and children, gender and representation), various manifestations of Sherlock Holmes as musician, and the popular reception of J.S. Bach in postwar America from Glenn Gould to the Golden Record to Hannibal Lecter. For more information, visit her website kristibrownmontesano.com.