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HEIR - Heifetz Ensemble in Residence

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Inheriting the Past – Sustaining the Present – Defining the Future

The first definition you’ll find for the word heir is “one who inherits or is entitled to succeed to a hereditary rank, title, or office.” Look a little further, however, and you’ll see a deeper meaning: “a person or group considered as inheriting the tradition, talent, etc., of a predecessor.”

It is in this latter spirit that we imagine the HEIR concept: A diverse group of exceptional young musicians whose achievements are based on talent, perseverance, and a commitment to use their artistry as a means of bettering our society as a whole. With touring activities out of the question for the foreseeable future, this program will continue to offer tangible professional experience for our most outstanding alumni, while sharing their artistry with audiences that may otherwise never have the means or ability to venture inside a concert hall.

HEIR Session II

Session II Artists in Residence:

Kenneth Ryu Takebe Naito (Heifetz 2015-17, 2019, Heifetz on Tour), violin – Elkridge, MD
Adam Savage (Heifetz 2019-20), viola – Port St. Lucie, FL
Noelle Midori Takebe Naito (Heifetz 2016-17), violin – Elkridge, MD
Jingxuan Zhang (Heifetz 2018-19, Heifetz on Tour), piano – Durham, NC
Jared Blajian (Heifetz 2018), cello – New York, NY

HEIR Session I

Session I Artists in Residence:

Julia Angelov (Heifetz 2019, Heifetz on Tour), violin – Washington, DC
Zhenni Li-Cohen (Heifetz on Tour, HeifetzPEG Faculty), piano – New York, NY
Matt Cohen (Heifetz 2012, 2013, Heifetz On Tour, HeifetzPEG Faculty), viola – New York, NY
Yezu Woo (Heifetz 2014, 2015, Heifetz on Tour), violin – Berlin, Germany
Coleman Itzkoff (Heifetz 2013, Artist in Residence, Heifetz On Tour, HeifetzPEG Faculty), cello – New York, NY
Noemie Raymond-Friset (Heifetz 2018, Heifetz On Tour, HeifetzPEG Faculty), cello – Quebec, Canada

About the Program

heifetz quartet performs

The Heifetz Institute will launch the first-ever Heifetz Ensemble-in-Residence Program, or HEIR, to take place in two sessions from January through May 2021. Just as the creation of the Heifetz Virtual Institute was an innovative and industry-leading response to the pandemic (the vast majority of summer festivals effectively suspended operations), the HEIR program is a creative alternative to the Institute’s acclaimed Heifetz on Tour program, designed to offer real-world performance experience and outreach opportunities for our most talented and engaging young alums.

Each of the two sessions will consist of either a string quartet or a piano trio composed of outstanding alumni of the Heifetz Institute, who will live and work in our home city of Staunton, VA for a two month period. Housing, meals, and salaries will be provided for the duration of the eight weeks. Intensive weekly rehearsal, performance, and production schedules will be prepared for the ensembles, augmented by the educational and outreach elements outlined above. Clear and strict policies regarding quarantine periods and social distancing will be enforced to ensure the safety of our artists and of our community.

Nicholas Kitchen teaching a heifetz student

The artists will work under the direct supervision of the Institute’s Artistic Director Nicholas Kitchen, exploring and performing both familiar and new repertory with an emphasis on underrepresented composers and artists of color, and the Institute’s management team led by President & CEO Benjamin K Roe, gaining valuable insight into the business side of the music world and a first hand view of arts administration. Live streamed performances will be arranged with cultural and educational partners, both regionally and further afield abetted by the Institute’s vast experience with professional quality live concert streaming. The HEIR participants will also work closely with our Multimedia Producers to prepare, curate, and assemble recorded performances that will broadcast via the Institute’s industry leading video platforms, including its YouTube channel with over 38,000 subscribers and over 9 million views. If and when appropriate, live performances for small socially distant audiences will also be produced for the HEIR musicians, which will provide an invaluable resource to our region, which like so many others has been starved for access to high quality arts programming and the community it fosters throughout the pandemic.

Presented in Partnership With:

Augusta Health Foundation
Shenandoah Valley Governors School

With additional support from:

Augusta Health Foundation

Fulfilling the Heifetz Mission

heifetz student performs virtually for August Health patients

Community Service

Expanding upon a partnership launched over the summer with Augusta Health, the Heifetz musicians will offer one-on-one concerts via video livestream to the facility’s patient and resident populations isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide inspiration and a sense of community to those who in many cases have been isolated from human interaction for weeks or even months. Limited public performances, such as in the hospital’s main atrium, are also a possibility if health conditions permit. Augusta Health served as a key collaborator during the 2020 summer program by providing an opportunity for the Institute to continue the longstanding tradition of community service during the summer program. Heifetz students presented a total of 73 one-on-one concerts via video livestream to the patients, residents, and front-line medical workers. We intend to resume this innovative partnership with an even more meaningful and robust structure through the HEIR program. A leadership team consisting of Dr. Clint Merritt (Chief Clinical Officer for Population Health) and Shelley Payne (Director of Recreational Therapy) will serve as facilitators for Augusta Health, and will work with the Heifetz Institute’s leadership to implement these cross-generational interactions where they will have the greatest impact within their network. All musicians will present at least one hour of virtual solo performances per week, with additional ensemble performances to be scheduled throughout the residency.


HEIR artists will provide mentoring, teaching, and engagement with the regional schools and other K-12 institutions, with an eye towards underserved communities. Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School will serve as our lead educational partner in this program, with courses designed to meet the unique needs of gifted and highly motivated students throughout the region through their Arts & Humanities program. Our artists will work with the faculty to augment their Humanities in Western Culture course, bringing to life the master works covered in their studies. As our flagship program takes place during the summer months when the school is not in session, this will allow us the opportunity to better connect with this important cohort of students in our community. Our resident artists will offer general music education, workshops, performances, and private lessons with the students throughout the region, with individualized schedules and content created for each program. More intensive training, workshops, and master classes will be available to established string players in those schools, as well as nonprofit partner programs and youth orchestras.

Ria Honda_On Tour_School
heifetz quartet performs a private concert

Entertainment and Enrichment

In accordance with best health and safety practices, we aim to present safe and socially distanced live in-person concerts, workshops, and educational events to provide vital cultural programming for our community, particularly during a time of year when there will be few cultural and entertainment offerings in the area. The Blackburn Inn & Conference Center and its properties will serve both as the living and rehearsal space for our ensembles, and its brand-new 3,900-square-foot Great Hall will be the primary venue for live safe, socially-distant live performances. Programs will include a mixture of free and low-cost events open to the general public, and “Informances” (information plus performances) designed for students and families, with a total of 2-3 events per week. Our impetus to present low-and no-cost concerts is vital to our mission of serving our community, in which the poverty rate (13.7%) is higher than the statewide and national averages. This program will allow us to offer more consistent and robust year round programming, especially during the coming winter months when there will be a prolonged dearth of quality cultural activities.


Collaboration with Cultural Partners

We will offer virtual outreach and concert appearances to support the Institute’s Heifetz On Tour partners and stakeholders. Frequent partner institutions include The Kreeger Museum of Art (Washington, DC), Evermay Concert Series (Washington, DC), Wolfeboro Friends of Music (Wolfeboro, NH), and Jamestown Arts Center (Jamestown, RI), and efforts will be made to expand our partnerships by offering accessible and educational performances through “virtual tours.”

Ria Honda_On Tour_School

Concert Schedule

Planning a Corporate Event? Anniversary? Zoom Birthday Surprise Party?
Add some music to the mix! Our HEIR ensemble will be available to perform in real time at a virtual gathering for you and your guests. Heifetz musicians have been the life of the party at online corporate functions and social get togethers, so drop us a line if you’d like more information on how to bring these exceptional musicians to your next gathering. Email: heir@heifetzinstitute.org