More free Chopin for March

DistlerWed 24th February 2010

Five days of performances - including a Chopin 'round robin'

Two seconds after I entered my last blog post about free Chopin performances in New York, along came an eye-catching press release in my in-box, which led me to a website, which led me to delaying my bedtime so I could be a good citizen and promote something positive.

So far as New York City Chopin parties, this may be the big one. Caramoor Jazz Festival and documentary producer Jim Luce is producing no less than five day’s worth of free performances at the World Financial Center begin next week on Monday March 1, and continue through Friday March 5. Each evening at 7pm features a solo concert.

Claire Huangci kicks things off March 1. When I judged the 2006 Koziusko Foundation Competition, an amazing 16-year-old pianist appeared, and it only took two or three bars to realize that she would be the outright winner. She’s approaching 20 now, and evolving artistically every day.

March 2 features the well-established Christopher O’Riley, who might be better known as the host of National Public Radio’s “From the Top.” To be honest, I’ve never heard his Chopin, but I once heard him play the pants off Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrouchka, and his recording of Busoni’s Fantasia Contrappuntistica is tremendously undervalued.

And on March 4, the immensely talented, fiercely individual Vassily Primakov. He’s one that I’ve only heard on disc (he’s piling up quite a discography for Bridge, including what may be the best modern version out there of the Dvorák Piano Concerto). During the day from 12 noon to 7pm, scores of pianists will play a kind of Chopin “round robin,” and I’ve copied the list of participants from the press release (many of these are dear friends and colleagues, as if you didn’t know already!): Sachiko Kato, Miori Sugiyama, Hsia-Jung, Arun Nadgir, Sheng-Yuan Kuan, Matthew Quayle, Jung Lin, Fumiyo Narita, Nami Sugiuchi, Melody Fader, Jonathan Levin, Natalia Lavrova, Blair McMillian, Danny Spiegal, Julie Jordan, Saar Ahuvia, Stephanie Ho, Lura Johnson, Monica Ohuchi, Young Park, Yalin Chi, Kimball Gallagher, Hwaen Ch'uqi, Lian Hua, Liu Ye, Hitome Honda, Quentin Kim, Eleni Traqanas, Taka Kigawa, Ja-Young Kim, Yuxi Wang, Steve Beck, Joel Wizansky, Robert DeGaetano, Matthew Cameron, Mirna Lekic, Oliver Markson, and Jonathan Floril.

There’ll be others, too, along with music students from all over the city and just outside the five boroughs.

And if you feel like going downtown and pumping up your own Chopin muscles, the pianos are open to the public between 9am and 12 Noon. Who knows who will show up?

Distler

Composer, pianist, concert presenter and Gramophone contributor Jed Distler looks back, present and forward about the piano in our lives, and the lives of the piano.

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