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The Harriet Hayden Albums

April 18, 2024| 6:00 PM

April 20, 2024 | 3:00 PM

This concert is generously sponsored by
Patricia Meaney & William Boone

Boston Athenæum - Henry Long Room

Welcome to The Harriet Hayden Albums, a double-bill interdisciplinary concert exploring the history of the Abolitionist community in Civil War-era Boston through the lens of chamber music. The Boston Athenæum’s spacious Henry Long Room, which serves as the location of this concert, showcases the Harriet Hayden Albums, a collection of authors, politicians, religious figures, and other notable people of the Abolitionist era. Paired with the Hayden Albums is a diverse selection of chamber music relating to Boston, the Abolitionists, and the history of slavery in the United States. This program explores themes of slavery, freedom, the history of Boston, and the relationship between art, social unrest, and civic change. Farayi Malek combines her jazzy vocal stylings with classical music programming to create a wholly unique musical event that unites multiple genres and takes us on a reflective journey of our very own community history.Read more about the Harriet Hayden Albums at the Boston Athenæum’s Digital Collections


With two concert options due to popular demand, we invite you to join BFO Artistic Director Alyssa Wang and BFO musicians in an intimate dialogue about what it means to experience art, and how it can help us to relate to the world around us. Enjoy a wine and cheese reception following the concert, including a chance to explore the special collection and other parts of the Athenæum.


This concert is free, but registration is required!


Porter Grainger, You Ought to Be Ashamed

Thomas Wiggins, Sewing Song (Imitation of a Sewing Machine)

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Deep River arr. Maud Powell

Margaret Bonds, Troubled Water

Billie Holiday, Strange Fruit arr. BFO

Justin Nielsen, Caged Bird

Farayi Malek, voice

Alyssa Wang, violin

Aron Zelkowicz, cello

Ruoting Li, piano

Musician Bios

Boston Athenæum (Henry Long Room)

10 1/2 Beacon St. 

Boston, MA 02108

For Parking and Directions, click here


Farayi Malek has traveled the world through music as a Grammy-nominated vocalist with Danilo Perez and the Global Messengers; and now musically, she’s going back to her own roots. Farayi, the child of a Zimbabwean immigrant and a white American mother, grew up in a small, rural town in Southern Idaho, playing the fiddle and absorbing the culture of seemingly conflicting communities. Her goal is to bring all of the diverse sounds and experiences of her life into her music: the Gospel of the church she grew up in, the blues and jazz she studied, all woven into pure, resonant songs that allow her effortless vocals to shine. American roots music comes from the blues, work songs, Celtic melodies, and hymns. All that is distilled into her warm, soulful voice.


Fans are elated to see Farayi step out as a solo artist on her much anticipated debut recording project produced by Alain Mallet [Phil Woods, Paul Simon, Paquito D'Rivera, Marc Johnson, and Madeleine Peyroux.] Her writing showcases very accessible themes with a unique compositional intelligence demonstrated in songs like “Tonight”.


Farayi is a Salt Lick Incubator award-winner alongside peers such as Tiny Habits, Alisa Amador and whose artist advisory panel includes T Bone Burnett, Jon Batiste, Harvey Mason Jr., and Patrice Rushen.


When she is not performing and recording, Farayi shares her vast musical knowledge as a professor at various esteemed institutions including Berklee’s City Music Boston High School Academy, New England Conservatory and Berklee College of Music. In an interview with The Boston Globe Farayi says “Seeing my students be so brave and confident, so artistic and free…they’re the ones who actually inspired me to pursue my artistic career.”


Whether she is engaging with her audience through performance or education, Farayi is driven by the desire to make people feel seen and at home in their otherness. 


Alyssa Wang is a passionate and versatile conductor, violinist, and composer. A recipient of the 2023 Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award and the 2022 St. Botolph Emerging Artist Award, Alyssa has enjoyed exploring diverse creative paths with a focus on audience inclusivity and engagement. She is the Co-Founder, Artistic Director, and Principal Conductor of the Boston Festival Orchestra, which presents an annual summer festival, chamber music series, and opera. In 2021, she joined the Boston Ballet as Assistant Conductor, conducting full ballet productions throughout the year and serving as Music Director for the annual Next Generation project with Boston Ballet School.

As a violinist, Alyssa has soloed with ensembles across the country and is the newest member musician of the Boston Chamber Music Society. She has been featured in numerous contemporary recording projects, such as Carlos Simon’s Grammy-nominated album, Requiem for the Enslaved (Decca), Nancy Galbraith’s Violin Concerto with Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and David Post’s Violin Sonata (Centaur). As a composer, she premiered her own violin concerto, Swept Away, with the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh, who commissioned the work, in February 2023, and looks forward to future composition projects.

Alyssa earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Carnegie Mellon University under the tutelage of Andrés Cárdenes, and a Master’s Degree at the New England Conservatory where she studied with Malcolm Lowe. She is the winner of the Carnegie Mellon School of Music Concerto Competition and the Silbermann Chamber Music Competition, and is the recipient of the Pittsburgh Female College Association Prize, the Carnegie Mellon Women’s Award, the Senior Leadership Award, and the Presser Undergraduate Scholar Award. During her senior year at Carnegie Mellon she helped to run the Heritage Scholarship Campaign, which raised over $180,000 to start a substantial undergraduate merit scholarship for future School of Music students. Alyssa is also an Andrew Carnegie Scholar.

In addition to her life in music, Alyssa is an avid photographer, writer, and social dancer. Learn more about Alyssa at


With a broad career as a cellist, performer, teacher and administrator, Aron Zelkowicz has cultivated a repertoire both classical and ethnic, familiar and obscure. He serves as the Founder and Director of the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival, which presents rare and diverse works from Jewish musical traditions. Under his guidance, the Festival has featured renowned ensembles and guest artists from the orchestral, chamber, early music, rock, and world music genres in innovative and thematic programs, for which he oversees every aspect of fundraising, marketing, production, and artistic direction. Critics noted his “impressive” directorial debut of an original, fully staged production of the chamber opera “The Dybbuk: Between Two Worlds” by Ofer Ben-Amots, and dubbed the Festival “one of the highest quality concert series in town” (Pittsburgh Tribune- Review) and a local “best-kept secret” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). In the past two decades, the Festival has, over the course of 36 events, programmed over 150 pieces of classical chamber and orchestral music inspired by Jewish traditions, including several world premieres and commissions. 

Dr. Zelkowicz serves as the producer for the Festival’s ongoing CD series, "Russian Jewish Classics”, which also features his talents as a cellist. These recordings (dubbed "first-rate" by Fanfare Magazine) represent a multi-year project devoted to the St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Folk Music and its affiliated Russian composers. The first five volumes have been released by the independent British label Toccata Classics, with future albums projected in a series that will shed new light upon these masters of Jewish art-music. 

As a cellist, Aron Zelkowicz has performed at the Tanglewood, Banff, Aspen, Sarasota, Chautauqua, Colorado, Cactus Pear and Sunflower festivals, with members of the Emerson and Cleveland Quartets, as Principal Cello of the Miami Symphony Orchestra, with the Toronto Symphony and National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada, and on international tours with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He is currently based in Boston and performs throughout the New England region as a member of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, the Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra, the ProArte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), as Associate Principal Cello of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and as Principal Cello of the Boston Landmarks Orchestra and the Boston Festival Orchestra. 

As a teacher and coach to young string players, Dr. Zelkowicz gives master classes at universities throughout the USA, including state universities of Alaska, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin. He has served on the faculties of Point Counterpoint Chamber Music Camp, the Brevard Music Center and the North Carolina Governor’s School. In 2013 he completed an eight-city tour of the mid-west United States, playing the complete cello suites of Benjamin Britten to mark the composer’s centenary. Other solo and chamber music appearances include the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Chameleon Arts Ensemble in Boston, Killington Music Festival in Vermont, Trinity Church Wall St., Pittsburgh Concert Society, NEMPAC’s (North End Music and Performing Arts Center’s) Winter Concert Series, and Harvard Business School. He has appeared as soloist in cello concerti by Dvorak, Elgar, and Saint-Saens with the Connecticut Valley Symphony, Harvard Dudley Orchestra, Arlington Philharmonic, and Edgewood Symphony Orchestras.

Ruoting Li Headshot 2023-2024.jpg

Chinese pianist Ruoting Li is an artist of wide-ranging vision, known for her “eloquent,  musical” (Fanfare Magazine) interpretations of contemporary music and for championing  the works of women composers, both past and present. With a burgeoning international  career as both a solo pianist and chamber musician, as well as several albums to her  name, Ruoting serves as the Resident Pianist with the Boston Festival Orchestra. She  also tours with the genre-defying trio, TAKE3, participating in their “bold, aggressive” (LA  Times) performances as well as their outreach events to local schools around the US. 

Ruoting has performed with presenters throughout the US, UK, Europe, and China,  including New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Washington, D.C.’s Library of Congress, Boston’s  Jordan Hall and Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts. During the 2023-2024  season, Ruoting performs as a soloist with the Boston Festival Orchestra at Jordan Hall,  BFO’s chamber series at the Boston Athaneum, and more.  

An accomplished recording artist and producer, Ruoting will follow her appearance on  David L. Post’s Sonatas & Other Works (Centaur) with the release of an album with  acclaimed cellist Juliana Soltis, featuring repertoire by American women composers. She  has also worked as a producer on albums for the Steinway & Sons and Naxos labels, and  has co-produced the upcoming album by the celebrated ensemble The Harlem Chamber  Players. 

Born in China, Ruoting began playing piano at the age of 6, and was admitted to the  Central Conservatory of Music Middle School in Beijing when she was 11 years old. In  2014, Ms. Li came to the U.S. and was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Manhattan  School of Music, where she earned both Bachelor and Master of Music degree in Piano  Performance under the tutelage of Dr. Solomon Mikowsky. Her other mentors include  Anthony de Mare and Kenneth Cooper. Residing in the vibrant Fordham neighborhood of  the Bronx, Ms. Li currently divides her time between New York and Boston.

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