Van Cliburn gold medalist opens concert series

Pianist Jon Nakamatsu, the only American since 1981 to win the gold medal in the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, opens the Bates College Concert Series at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell Street. Admission to the concert is $7 for the general public and $5 for children, senior citizens and full-time students of all ages.

A popular and critical favorite described by one reviewer as a “poet of the keyboard,” Nakamatsu performs works by Joseph Woelfl, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff, Debussy and Liszt in his Bates program.

A California native and former high school German teacher, Nakamatsu became the 10th Van Cliburn gold medalist in 1997. A Los Angeles Times reviewer later wrote that “Nakamatsu has everything he ought to have: a solid, effortless and comprehensive technique, wide dynamics and a spectrum of tone colors, exquisite good taste, a commanding musical authority, a searching interest in different styles and a poet’s imagination.”

Nakamatsu records for the prestigious harmonia mundi usa label. He 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. He performed Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” at the Clinton White House, and has appeared with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester-Berlin, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco and Cincinnati symphony orchestras and the Boston Pops, among other major organizations.

The program for Nakamatsu’s Maine debut includes Joseph Woelfl’s Sonata in E Major (Op. 33); a series of four Schubert impromptus (D. 899); Mendelssohn’s Fantasy in F-Sharp Minor (Op. 28); three preludes by Rachmaninoff (Op. 32, No. 1, and Op. 23, Nos. 4 and 7); Debussy’s “Suite bergamasque” and “Apres une lecture du Dante (Fantasia quasi Sonata),” from Liszt’s “Annees de pelerinage,” Book II.

A connoisseur’s choice of jazz and classical musicians, the five-concert 2002-03 Bates College Concert Series continues on Oct. 5 with a performance by jazz trumpeter Tiger Okoshi and his band. Later concerts in the series feature pianist Frank Glazer and violinist Curtis Macomber (Nov. 9; free admission); jazz guitarist Pat Martino (Jan. 18); and the Brentano String Quartet with Maine pianist Yuri Funahashi (March 8).

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

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