Five musicians will be featured in piano series

Posted: September 27, 2013

The Winchester Star

Nikolay Khozyainov
Ursula Oppens
Pascal Rogé
Jeremy Denk
John O’Conor

Winchester — Shenandoah Conservatory’s World of the Piano series always brings an international flavor to Winchester.

Over the next several months, five musicians ranging from world-renowned pianists to rising stars will perform at the university as part of the series, now in its 10th season, said Elizabeth Temple, professor of piano at the conservatory and one of the coordinators.

The visiting artists are “different nationalities, ages and experiences,” which offers audiences exposure to a wide spectrum of music, she said. “We are really excited about all of them.”

The series begins with a concert at 3 p.m. Sunday in Armstrong Concert Hall by John O’Conor, Shenandoah’s artist-in-residence and chair of the piano division. The other concerts will be at 3 p.m. on their dates in the same location.

All concerts also feature a pre-concert chat at 2 p.m. in Armstrong Concert Hall featuring either the musician or a conservatory faculty member, she said.

Tickets to each performance are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $10 for students and active military. A $75 series subscription offers entry into the five recitals and pre-concert chats and five master classes.

For his concert, Irish pianist O’Conor said he will perform an all-Beethoven recital featuring Sonata in C minor Op. 13 “Pathétique”; Sonata in C sharp minor Op. 27 No. 2 “Moonlight,” and Sonata in F minor Op. 57 “Appassionata.”

“I have a special affinity with Beethoven because I have played all of his sonatas several times and I won the Beethoven International Piano Competition in 1973, which started my career,” he said.

The series continues with Ursula Oppens, an American pianist who normally plays contemporary music but has planned a more traditional program for Nov. 3. She will play Schumann’s “Davidsbundlertanze” and Ravel’s “Valses noble et sentimental” and “La Valse,” Temple said.

At age 69, Oppens is at the “height of her playing ability with the added element of having a really mature approach to the music. She will be presenting the depth of the music, not just loud and fast,” Temple said.

Fellow American Jeremy Denk continues the series Feb. 9, 2014, with works by Beethoven and selected etudes by György Ligeti, O’Conor said. Although the etudes are now a staple in piano repertoire, many audience members won’t know them, making for an entertaining introduction by Denk.

“He is an amazing artist and one of the most exciting American pianists of his generation,” O’Conor said.

The series will continue its tradition of showcasing the winner of the Dublin International Piano Competition, which was Russian pianist Nikolay Khozyainov in 2012, said O’Conor, the festival’s founder and artistic director.

Khozyainov’s performance March 30 will include Sonata No. 8 Op. 84 in B flat major and Liszt’s Fantasy “Marriage of Figaro,” an extremely difficult piece that he played in the competition, O’Conor said. “It was such an amazing display of virtuosity.”

The series ends April 13 with a performance by Pascal Rogé of France playing selections such as Debussy’s “Suite Bergamasque” and “Preludes (Book 1),” Ravel’s “Sonatine,” and Poulenc’s “Les Soirees de Nazelles.”

As part of his visit, Rogé will give a master class April 14 in Armstrong Hall with 12 young pianists who will play a Debussy prelude and then receive a critique, O’Conor said. People can come and watch the performances and critiques, which gives them an opportunity to see Rogé help fine tune the pieces.

Looking back at all of the talented artists the series has brought to Winchester in the last 10 seasons, the World of the Piano series has proven a “wonderful way to connect with the community,” Temple said.

Information

Shenandoah Conservatory’s World of the Piano Series begins with a concert by John O’Conor at 3 p.m. Sunday in Armstrong Concert Hall with a pre-concert lecture at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $10 for students, children and military. Go to conservatoryperforms.org.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com