Free concert in commemoration of the Independence Day of the United States

Brasília, July 3, 2023: The United States Embassy and Consulates in Brazil, Casa Thomas Jefferson, and the State Department of Culture and Creative Economy of Distrito Federal are promoting, this Tuesday (4th), a concert in celebration of the Independence Day of the United States.

The event is free and will be conducted by the Teatro Nacional Cláudio Santoro Symphony Orchestra. The guest soloists are Brazilian and American: Lee Mills, American conductor; Virginia Hogan, Brazilian-American pianist; Grace Touhill, American soprano; Jennifer Heemstra, American pianist; and Edilson Leal, Brazilian pianist.

Meet the guest soloists:

Lee Mills, American conductor, praised by Gramophone magazine for leaving audiences “with joy in his step,” is a five-time winner of the U.S. Solti Foundation’s Solti Award, is an internationally acclaimed conductor known for his passion and energy. Musical America, America’s oldest classical music magazine, hailed him as ‘New Artist of the Month’ in March 2022, praising his versatility and exploration of diverse musical styles. During his time as Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony, he was praised by the Seattle Times for being the ‘hero of the moment’ when he stepped in at the last minute for the world premiere of Hannah Lash’s gigantic double harp concerto, The Peril of Dreams. He served as Solti Foundation U.S. Resident at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2022, and other recent engagements include the Naples Philharmonic, a return to the Seattle Symphony, and the Symphony Orchestra of the Teatro Nacional Cláudio Santoro in Brasilia. During his five years as Resident Conductor of the Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira, Mills launched the Conexões Musicais project, a music education and social responsibility project that has impacted over 200,000 people throughout Brazil.

Virginia Hogan, a Brazilian-American pianist, studied with one of Brazil’s leading pianists, Arnaldo Estrella, and made her professional orchestral debut at the age of sixteen in a televised performance conducted by Isaac Karabtchevsky. He graduated with honors from the Brazilian Conservatory of Music at the age of seventeen. He won a national piano competition and received a full scholarship to study for a Masters Degree in Piano Performance at the Mendelssohn Conservatory in Leipzig, Germany. He continued his studies at the Vienna Conservatory of Music, the State University of New York, and Rio de Janeiro. She has performed in the Americas, Africa, and Europe as a soloist. She has also performed as chamber musician with renowned violinists Aron Krosnik, Bernard Bessler, and pianists Sônia Goulart, Elisabeth Stern, and Luli Oswald, daughter of Arthur Rubinstein. Ms. Hogan is a frequent guest of celebrities on radio and television in many countries. As a teacher, Ms. Hogan is a guest artist in master classes in several Brazilian and American universities. She performs for charities, and in 1993 was named “Southern Woman of the Year” in recognition of her charitable activities in the USA. She recently performed at the Maryland Governor’s Mansion at a benefit for the United Way, at the Swiss Embassy in Washington, for the American Association of University Women. In 2002, Ms. Hogan performed with the São Paulo Chamber Orchestra for the LARAMARA Foundation for the Visually Impaired. In June 2006, Ms. Hogan performed with the Eleazar de Carvalho Orchestra at the historic Teatro José de Alencar in Fortaleza, whose proceeds were donated to the Veronica Bird Foundation, supporting children with autism spectrum disorders.

Grace Touhill, American soprano, is pursuing her Master’s degree at the prestigious Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Music and Conservatory, Baltimore, Maryland, considered one of the best Councils in the USA, where the rigorous admission process confirms the talent and professional competence of the soprano who began her musical studies as a vocalist at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music and was a student of renowned masters from different institutions of international recognition. Grace has an intense schedule of solo performances and participations in opera productions in leading roles. Grace has an intense schedule as a recitalist in collaborations that integrate her diverse passions to create concert series focused on environmental advocacy. Grace’s talent also allows her to perform as a flutist. Grace Touhill aims through her music and art to touch people’s hearts to create unique experiences of meaning and beauty. Good music touches the soul, the heart, and the mind of people.

Jennifer Heemstra, American pianist, is a socially relevant artist who has made her mark in classical music and education in disadvantaged communities around the world. She received her Master of Music degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music and Bachelor of Music degree with honors from Michigan State University. He has performed at such venues as the Kala Mandir (Kolkata, India), Smithsonian National Museum (D.C.), Jazz Conservatory (Kathmandu, Nepal), Aini Opera and Ballet Theatre (Dushanbe, Tajikistan), and American University (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates). Heemstra founded two non-profit organizations, Kolkata Classics in India and the Pitch Pipe Foundation in Michigan, USA. She has organized concerts and performed at over one hundred events in India, seventy-two cultural events in the US, and fifty-six events in the Middle East and Central Asia. Heemstra was a delegate to the Second World Congress Against Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls in Delhi, India.

Edilson Leal, Brazilian pianist, holds a Master’s degree in Piano Performance from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, a post-graduate degree in Chamber Music from the Conservatório Brasileiro de Música – RJ, and a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from Fundação Carlos Gomes, Belém-PA. In Belém he studied with Helena Gomes Maia and Paulo José Campos de Mello. In Rio de Janeiro he studied with Mordehay Simoni, from whom he received guidance and pianistic recycling, and with Sônia Goulart, who was his advisor in the Master’s Degree in Piano at UFRJ, and with whom he has lessons until nowadays. Since 2006, he has been living in Rio de Janeiro, where he performs as soloist and chamber musician in series of the cultural circuit of Rio de Janeiro. Chopin’s repertoire has become a great devotion through the influence of his teacher Mordehay Simoni. He obtained awards in national competitions throughout his adolescence, and as a scholar of national festivals he participated in Masterclasses with pianists Arnaldo Cohen, Cristina Ortiz, Maurizio Baglini, Caio Pagano, Fernando Lopes, André Rangel, Eduardo Monteiro, Luiz Senise, Edson Elias and in the summer courses of Proarte with Luiz Carlos De Moura Castro. He has developed, as a self-taught student, the practice of jazz and popular improvisation. Currently, he is a piano teacher at the Children’s and Professionalizing Technical Courses of Escola de Música Villa-Lobos, in Rio de Janeiro.

Concert of the Symphonic Orchestra of the Cláudio Santoro National Theater in celebration of the Independence Day of the United States
Date: Tuesday, July 4th
Place: Teatro Plinio Marcos (Funarte Cultural Complex)
Time: 20h
Indicative rating: free
Admission is free, with no need to pick up tickets in advance, but subject to overbooking.