Concert series offers insiders' picks in jazz, classical

Beginning with a performance by Jon Nakamatsu, the only American gold medalist in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition since 1981, the 2002-2003 Bates College Concert Series is a connoisseur’s choice of jazz and classical players. Nakamatsu’s concert, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall opens a series that includes jazz trumpeter Tiger Okoshi, jazz guitarist Pat Martino and such classical artists as Maine pianists Frank Glazer and Yuri Funahashi, violinist Curtis Macomber and the renowned Brentano String Quartet.

All five concerts take place in the college’s Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell St. Admission to four of the concerts is $7 for adults and $5 for seniors. Admission to the Glazer-Macomber program on Nov. 9 is free, through the support of the Florence Pennell Gremley Fund at Bates.

Here’s a summary of the 2002-2003 Bates College Concert Series:

Jon Nakamatsu (7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29): A California native and former high school German teacher, Jon Nakamatsu became the 10th Van Cliburn competition gold medalist in 1997. He records for the prestigious harmonia mundi usa label, and is a popular and critical favorite described by one reviewer as a “poet of the keyboard.”

Nakamatsu is equally comfortable in solo recital, chamber ensembles and as an orchestral soloist, and his repertoire runs from Bach through Beethoven to such contemporary composers as Lukas Foss. The program for his Maine debut includes works by Woelfl, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Brahms.

Tiger Okoshi & Co. (8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5): Toru “Tiger” Okoshi took up trumpet as a teen-ager after hearing a concert in his native Japan by Louis Armstrong. After graduating summa cum laude from the Berklee College of Music, in Boston (where he is now an associate professor), he toured with such jazz greats as vibraphonist Gary Burton and drummer Buddy Rich. A JVC recording artist and clinician for Yamaha Corporation, Okoshi is known for such recordings as Color of Soil (1998), Two Sides to Every Story (1996) and 1993′s Echoes of a Note, a tribute to Armstrong.

Pianist Frank Glazer and violinist Curtis Macomber (8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9; free admission): Colleagues in the New England Piano Quartette, one of Maine’s best-loved chamber groups, Macomber and Glazer have performed together since the mid-1990s. For this concert, they will play three Beethoven sonatas.

A faculty member at Juilliard, Macomber belonged to the New World String Quartet from 1982 to 1993 and is a founding member of the Apollo Trio. He is an influential champion of new music whose CRI disc Songs of Solitude, a compilation of contemporary repertoire, was named one of the best solo instrumental recordings of 1996 by the New York Observer.

Maine’s best-known pianist and a resident artist at Bates, Glazer is an artist of international stature who taught at the Eastman School of Music, in Rochester, N.Y., before retiring to Maine with his wife, Ruth, in 1980. The couple founded the popular Saco River Festival, held in Cornish every summer. A student of pianist Artur Schnabel, Glazer is one of the few surviving proteges of that great musician. His long career has included numerous recordings, his own television program in the 1950s and countless solo recitals and performances.

Jazz guitarist Pat Martino (8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18): Musical insiders know Martino from his larger-than-life technique, intrepid improvisations and a stylistic breadth that spans bop, R&B and funk. (He is also celebrated for his hard-fought recovery from a life-threatening brain aneurysm in the 1980s.) A veteran of three decades in jazz, Martino has made more than 20 albums and is currently signed with the esteemed Blue Note label. Pianist Gil Goldstein accompanies him in this appearance at Bates.

Brentano String Quartet with pianist Yuri Funahashi (8 p.m. Saturday, March 8): Founded in 1992, the Brentano String Quartet received three major awards within its first year and went on to become the first (and current) quartet-in-residence at Princeton University. The quartet has performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Library of Congress, Lincoln Center and other important venues. Distinguished by technical brilliance and musical insight, the group is equally convincing with the established repertoire and new music. The Bates program includes Bach, Webern and Dvorak.

Particularly acclaimed for her solo work and sonata recordings with violinists Joseph Swenson and Arturo Delmoni, Yuri Funahashi has performed in major concert settings around the world. In her adopted home state, where she is an adjunct professor at the University of Maine at Farmington, she is known for her performances at the Sebago-Long Lake Chamber Music Festival and with the Maine Music Society. For the Bates date, she joins the Brentano String Quartet for Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet, Op. 57.

For more information about the Bates Concert Series, please call 207-786-6135.

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