Rafael Popper-Keizer, Artistic Director
Laina Barakat, General Manager
Maria Rindenello-Parker, MM in the Schools Coordinator
Hailed by The New York Times as “imaginative and eloquent” and dubbed “a local hero” with “silken tone and subtle attention to each note” by the Boston Globe, cellist Rafael Popper-Keizer maintains a vibrant and diverse career as one of Boston’s most celebrated artists. He is principal cellist of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Emmanuel Music, and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and a core member of many notable chamber music organizations throughout New England, including the Chameleon Arts Ensemble and Winsor Music. His 2003 performance with the Boston Philharmonic of the Saint-Saëns Concerto in A minor was praised by the Globe for “melodic phrasing of melting tenderness” and “dazzling dispatch of every bravura challenge;” more recent solo appearances include Strauss' Don Quixote with the Boston Philharmonic, Beethoven's Triple Concerto with Emmanuel Music; and the North American premiere of Roger Reynolds' Thoughts, Places, Dreams with sound/icon.
Mr. Popper-Keizer is a member of nationally acclaimed conductorless string ensemble A Far Cry, which has won recognition for both artistic excellence and its democratic model of collective decision-making at every level. In 2017, A Far Cry commissioned, premiered, and recorded a new piano concerto by Philip Glass, with soloist Simone Dinnerstein. The release of this recording was followed up a few months later by the group’s album Visions and Variations, which received two Grammy nominations. A Far Cry’s recent and upcoming performance schedule includes tours of California and Colorado, regular appearances at the Rockport Music Festival and Central Park in NYC, and a concert at the Kennedy Center in DC featuring the Tchaikovsky Serenade played from memory.
In 2019, Mr. Popper-Keizer was appointed Artistic Director of Monadnock Music, where he has been in residence every summer since 2002. Based in Peterborough, New Hampshire, the central mission of Monadnock Music is to bring free concerts featuring world-class artists to the villages and towns of the region. Over the course of the festival’s more than fifty-year history, Monadnock Music has worked closely with composers including Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, Roger Sessions, and (in more recent years) Richard Danielpour, Dalit Warshaw, and Jing Wang.
Mr. Popper-Keizer has been featured on over two dozen recordings, including the premieres of Robert Erickson's Fantasy for Cello and Orchestra, Thomas Oboe Lee's cello concerto Eurydice, Yehudi Wyner's De Novo for cello and small chamber ensemble, and Malcolm Peyton's unaccompanied Cello Piece. His most recent solo recording, on Musica Omnia, is a disc pairing two monumental works for unaccompanied cello: Zoltan Kodaly’s notoriously virtuosic Sonata for Solo Cello and Ralf Gawlick’s At the still point of the turning world, a powerful exploration of sonority and silence written for and dedicated to Popper-Keizer.
As an alumnus of the New England Conservatory (A.D. 1999, M.M. with honors 1997), Mr. Popper-Keizer studied with master pedagogue and Piatigorsky protégé Laurence Lesser; at the Tanglewood Music Center he was privileged to work with Mstislav Rostropovich, and was Yo-Yo Ma’s understudy for Strauss’ Don Quixote under the direction of Seiji Ozawa. His prior teachers include Stephen Harrison of Stanford University, and Karen Andrie at the University of California in Santa Cruz. At the age of ten he began undergraduate coursework in mathematics at UCSC, where he was accepted as a full-time student two years later (B.A. 1994).
Mr. Popper-Keizer is currently on faculty at Gordon College in Wenham, MA, and has previously taught at Philips Exeter Academy, Brandeis University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With A Far Cry, he has participated in college and university residencies nationwide, including guest lectures and presentations at Baldwin Wallace University and Connecticut College, and masterclasses at Yale University.
Laina Barakat is an Independent Film Producer, and singer-songwriter, excited to join Monadnock Music as its General Manager. Laina first moved to the region 9 years ago to work with Either/Or Films on their premier feature, The Sensation of Sight (David Strathairn, Ian Sommerhalder, Jane Adams, Ann Cusak) which was filmed in Peterborough. Since then, she founded and ran a non-profit artist collective in Keene, NH, The Starving Artist, where she booked nationally touring bands for four years. Further integrating herself into the community, she co-founded and was Executive Director for the Monadnock International Film Festival during its first three years. Her film, Only Daughter, premiered at Cinequest Film Festival and picked up various awards across the country including Audience Choice Award at New York No Limits, and NH Film of the Year at New Hampshire Film Festival. She is in Post Production of her latest film, Glowworm and in development of two additional shorts scheduled to hit production this year. As a songwriter, Laina has been a songwriter in residence at the Glen Workshops in Santa Fe New Mexico, a Songwriting Captain for Soul Kitchen, workshopped her songs with the band Over The Rhine, and had several of her compositions covered by internationally touring bands. Her second album, The Wayward Ark, was produced by Vinx (Percussionist for Sting and Stevie Wonder, Songwriter for Cheryl Crowe, Seal, at the Broadway Musical The Lion King). She self-released an album in 2015 called Iron Lungs. She continues cowriting with several artists across the country.
In the fall of 2015, Laina Line-Produced a documentary film in Grand Rapids Michigan called More Art Upstairs, which is set to release next year. Laina lives in Marlborough New Hampshire and is proud to now call the Monadnock Region her home.
MM in the Schools Coordinator
Harpist Maria Rindenello-Parker was a prize winner in the Advanced Division of the American Harp Society's 18th National Competition. In May of 2013 she received her Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory in Boston, where she also received her Bachelor of Music degree under the tutelage of Dr. Ann Hobson Pilot. In the spring of 2011, Maria was featured alongside Dr. Pilot on a WGBH radio program about Pilot’s groundbreaking career as a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and teacher. From 2009 to 2014, Maria served as Principal Harp with Discovery Ensemble.
Maria has participated in the Spoleto Festival USA, the Aspen Music Festival, Monadnock Music, and the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival. She has played in masterclasses for such international harpists as Paula Page, Nancy Allen, June Han, Lisa Wellbaum, Alice Giles, Marie-Pierre Langlamet, and Gwyneth Wentink.
Currently, Maria performs with Callithumpian Consort, the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, the Amaryllis Chamber Ensemble, and other greater-Boston area ensembles. She is an active freelancer in New England and studio recording artist for film and video game scores. As a teacher, Maria serves as faculty harp instructor at Indian Hill Music School in Littleton, MA, and at Nantucket Music Center in Nantucket, MA.
After a year of training at Lyon & Healy Harps in Chicago, Maria has recently become the newest member of the Lyon & Healy/Salvi Harp Technicians Guild.