CROSS ISLAND is the duo of cellist Suzanne Mueller and pianist Elinor Abrams Zayas. Founded in the summer of 2007, the duo made its first public appearance at Old Westbury Gardes in August of that year. Since then, audiences throughout Long Island have responded enthusiastically to the duo’s obvious love and passion for the music they perform, as well as for the pleasure they so obviously derive from performing together. Many performances feature a guest clarinetist - usually Joseph Rutkowski, Jr. Every CROSS ISLAND performance features a free improvisation and often includes music created or arranged especially for them by composers. Their calendar and photos can be viewed at http://www.myspace.com/crossislandensemble and you can also become a fan of CROSS ISLAND on Facebook.
Cellist Suzanne Mueller is a native of Roslyn and currently resides in Great Neck. She is a graduate of both the Pre-College and College of The Juilliard School and has studied with such notable cellists as Alexander Kouguell, Channing Robbins, Harvey Shapiro, Marion Feldman, Lorne Munroe, and, recently, Eugene Friesen, for improvisation and non-classical performance and perspective. Her chamber music coaches have included Joseph Fuchs, William Lincer, and collaborative pianist Margo Garrett.
She made her New York recital debut under the auspices of Artists International, as a member of the piano/cello Elysian Duo, and went on to perform as half of its successor, Elysian Ii, for ten years. Currently, she is Beech Tree Concerts Artist-in-Residence at Old Westbury Gardens, where she presents a series of outdoor summer concerts. In addition, she is also half of McCarron & Mueller, a partnership formed in 2000 with guitarist/composer/arranger Mark McCarron, often performing as a trio with percussionist Stefan Schatz.
A proponent of non-traditional cello performance styles and genres, Suzanne is a member of the New Directions Cello Association. She has performed with singer/songwriter Terry Winchell and Retro Folk duo Hungrytown, and can be heard on the CDs: Hungrytown, Terry Winchell’s Vice Versa, and Dave Rave’s and Mark McCarron’s In the Blue of My Dreams (2007); Alli Collis’s Signal on the Starboard and Lauren Agnelli’s Love Always Follows Me (2004) and Rebecca Hall’s Sunday Afternoon (2002).
For more information on Suzanne Mueller, to hear sound clips of her playing, and to find out where and when she will be appearing, please see her website: http://www.myspace.com/cambiatagn
Pianist Elinor Abrams Zayas is a favorite of Long Islanders as a piano soloist, chamber musician, and collaborative artist. A native of Brightwaters, her early teachers were Ruth Koch, Claude Gonvierre, and, at The Juilliard Pre-College, Howard Aibel and Leonard Eisner.
Undergraduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music were with Constance Keene, and chamber music with Artur Balsam. She studied jazz and improvisation with Valerie Capers, arranging with John Carisi, and performed in Jazz ensembles led by Dave Samuels and David Freidman. Her graduate studies, also at Manhattan, were with Robert Helps, who introduced her to contemporary music, and also to the techniques of Abby Whiteside. Sophia Rosoff—a Whiteside disciple, whose pupils included Gary Graffman and jazz pianist Barry Harris, was a major influence, as was the the jazz pianist Joanne Brackeen.
Ms. Zayas formed the chamber ensemble Nepenthe in 1984.. Nepenthe presented a successful concert series at the Boulton Center for the Arts in Bay Shore, and performed widely on Long Island. Elinor has also been the pianist for the Long Island Masterworks Chorus, and the Long Island Philharmonic Chorus, a musical director at the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, NY, and a soloist in the metropolitan area, at such venues as Trinity Church in NYC, and the Friends of the Arts Beethoven Festival at Planting Fields Arboretum. This year, she has also begun performing with Cross Road, a string jazz group led by composer/bassist Reynard Burns. That group recently performed at Dowling College and on the Patchogue Theater Chamber Music Series.
Ms. Zayas is anative of Brightwaters, where she lives and maintains a private piano studio. She has served on the music faculties of Five Towns College, Hofstra University, and is currently on the music faculty of the Sachem Public Schools.
Some "reviews" of CROSS ISLAND:
"What a delight your Cross Island concert was! Thank you for your enthusiasm in making music performance a very lively art. It was obvious that you three enjoy working together, and the audience certainly shared in your enjoyment. The program's arrangement also had great appeal. Starting and finishing with a well known classic grounded us in recognition of your fine musicianship. Look forward to hearing you again."
Jan North, Music Programmer, Bayport-Bell Point Public Library, March 2009
"Thank you for an incredible performance. What extraordinary talents your are. The patrons are still talking about how great you were...!"
Phyllis Cox, Program Coordinator, Jericho Public Library, February 2009
"The audience loved CI:CR&K [CROSS Island: Cello, Reeds, & Keys]; I am still hearing about how much they loved the concert. Definitely, keep a Sunday free for us next season!"
Amy Tuttle, former Artistic Director, Islip Arts Council, March 2008 concert.
"...one of the most enjoyable musical afternoons we have ever had here at the Rogers Memorial Library. Each of you was magnificent - and together, you were out of this world (your program was brilliant, too). Back next yr.?"
Penelope Wright, Program Director, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton, NY, March 2008
"Merci chère Suzanne,
J'ai écouté avec émotion votre enregistrement et ai été très touché par votre musicalité et celle aussi de votre excellente pianiste. Mes chaleureuses amitiés à vous deux."
["Thank you dear Suzanne,
I listened with emotion to your recording and was very affected by your musicality and that also of your excellent pianist. My warm-hearted best regards to you two."]
Composer Serge Kaufmann, in response to a recording by Suzanne and Ellie of his "Suite Yiddish."
"An outstanding group with a strong commitment to music."
Leo Kraft, composer, author & educator
"I have often attended concerts by the Cello, Reeds, & Keys ensemble. They offer interesting, varied and enjoyable programs, always well planned and performed. I wish them continued success."
Alexander Kouguell, Prof. Emeritus, Aaron Copland School of Music Queens College, N.Y.
"Thank you for such a wonderful afternoon of beautiful sounds...love and appreciate you and your gift."
Ralph Williams, Growth in Christ Community Choir, Queens, NY, after hearing the Cello, Reeds, & Keys concert (Mike Cohen on clarinet) at Old Westbury Gardens, August 12, 2007