Le Due Muse is a cello and piano duo team formed by the Bay Area cellist Sarah Hong and her long time duo partner, Japanese pianist Makiko Ooka, whose repertoire ranges from baroque to contemporary music.
Franz Schubert Sonata in A minor for Arpeggione and Piano, D. 821; Piano Trio in E-flat major; and selected Lieder
Le Due Muse is a cello and piano duo team formed by the Bay Area cellist Sarah Hong and her long time duo partner, Japanese pianist Makiko Ooka in the year 2000. With violinist Heeguen Song (the assistant concertmaster of the San Francisco Ballet), they return to Old First Concerts to share the most sublime, tender, and passionate works by Franz Schubert.
“When I wished to sing of love, it turned to sorrow. And when I wished to sing of sorrow, it was transformed for me into love.” -Franz Schubert
Acclaimed by music critics as “free, warm and very expressive” performer, cellist, Sarah Hong was born in Seoul Korea. She began studying cello at the age of six and was selected as most promising young cellist in the nation at the age of 16, her performance broadcasted nationwide by KBS. She made her New York debut at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall as a winner of Artists International.
Ms. Hong studied at the Juilliard School with Zara Nelsova and Joel Krosnick while receiving both of the BM and MM degrees. She finished her artist certificate in chamber music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the direction of Bonnie Hampton. She studied chamber music with Samuel Lipkin, Jacob Lateiner, Jerome Lowenthal, Toby Appel, The Juilliard String Quartet, Mark Sokol, Ian Swenson, and Jean-Michel Fonteneau.
As a soloist, Ms. Hong won numerous competitions including the grand prize from the International Young Artists Peninsula Music Competition, the International Sorantin Young Artist Award, the first prize award from the Jennings Butterfield Young Artist Competition, the Dong-A, Korean Times, and Chosun, Youth Chamber music competitions. She was awarded the Featured Artist Award at the Arts Center, Seoul.
Ms. Hong has performed in venues including Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, Sun Dorm, Herbst Theater, Sejong Cultural Center, and Arts Center in Seoul. She has invited to perform as a guest artist at festivals such as New York Festival, Seoul International Festival, Seoul Youth Festival, and Overseas Korean Festival (with Suwon Symphony). At Overseas Korean Festival, she had selected as a most outstanding overseas Korean musician. She has premiered Prokofiev Symphonies Concertante in Korea with Korean Orchestra (with Korean Symphony) at the Seoul International Festival, and this performance was broadcast worldwide by Arirang TV. She also appeared at international music festivals around the world such as Salzburg, Holland music session, Nice, Schleswig-Holstein, Bach Academy, Britten Pears, Aspen, Yellowbarn festivals and Juilliard string quartet seminar. She has worked with renowned musicians such as cellists Janos Starker, William Pleeth, Maud Tortelier, Boris Pergamentschikov, Mark Drobinskyand, Tsuyashi Tsutsumi, and chamber musicians Gilbert Kalish, Robert Mann, Felix Galimir, Peabody Trio, Beaux Arts Trio, Weilerstein Trio, St. Lawrence Quartet.
Ms. Hong lives in Los Altos where she balances a busy career as a soloist, collaborative artist, and teacher. She is a formal member of the New Century Chamber Orchestra, Broderick String Quartet and associate faculty at the Zephyr International Summer Music Festival. Currently, she is a cellist of Le Due Muse (cello & piano duo) with Makiko Ooka, San Francisco Cello Quarter, and Ensemble Ari. Also, she teaches string orchestra at The King’s Academy and special need children at AMASE (Academy of Music for Special Education). She started the ‘Phos (φῶς)’ Benefit Concert Series to raise money to help support various non-profit organizations serving children in underdeveloped countries.
Makiko Ooka began studying the piano at four years of age. She graduated from Kyoto City University of Arts in Japan and received an Artist Diploma from San Jose State University.
She has performed many solo and chamber concerts throughout Japan, China and the United States. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Ms. Ooka has appeared on television for the Grand Piano series; other performances include programs for the Listening Hour at San Jose State University and the Fortnightly Music Club of Palo Alto. Ms. Ooka continues to perform solo, duo and chamber recitals with diversified chamber groups. Collaboration with the Sofia Philharmonie from Bulgaria in Japan, with the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra and with various vocalists among others shows her widely acclaimed confidence as a partner.
Ms. Ooka has performed over 50 duo piano recitals throughout Japan. The repertoire includes not only pieces originally written for four hands, but reduction pieces of the orchestra and from other genres. Her Duo gives the recital every autumn and they are highly appreciated by the audience for their innovative programming, and for the exquisite ensemble of the two pianists, which has been praised as “The spectacular sounds and the versatility of the pianos proving the unlimited possibilities of colors of the instrument”. The Duo has been received as “always fresh and always innovative”. She is also invited as a judge for the piano duo competition in Osaka. She has become a most sought after performer and an overall music coach in the area.
Native of Seoul Korea, violinist Heeguen Song is the assistant concert master of the San Francisco Ballet. She has held positions at Santa Rosa Symphony, Oakland Symphony and Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Song performed regularly in South Korea and throughout the Bay Area in venues such as Seoul Arts Center, Sejong Arts Center, Old First Concerts, Herbst Theater, Bing Concert Hall, and many more. She is an active chamber musician and is a member of Beaubliss Quartet and Ensemble Ari. She has performed at Yale Chamber music Society, Yellowbarn Music Festival, Taos Music Festival, and Banff Chamber Music Residency. Heeguen was invited to play at Osaka City Hall, Daejeon Chamber Music Festival, Beethoven institute at New School and City University of NY. Additionally Heeguen gave a solo debut recital at Weil Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and had solo appearances with many orchestras such as SF Ballet Orchestra, Oberlin Orchestra, Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, and Ensemble 212, and Camerata Academica de Merida. She was a prize winner at the Henryk Szeryng International Competition, Irving M Klein Competition, and Kingsville International Competition among others.
Heeguen studied at Oberlin Conservatory, the Juilliard School, Yale School of music and Rutgers University under the direction of Almita Vamos, Masao Kawasaki, Peter Oundjian, and Arnold Steinhardt. Heeguen resides in Albany with her husband Sungwoo Shin and their two children.