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Pianist Jon Nakamatsu performs Beethoven on Geneva Concerts series

Jon Nakamatsu performs with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra at the Smith Opera House on Feb. 1.

Geneva Concerts presents the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra on Friday, February 1, 7:30 p.m., at the Smith Opera House.

Music Director Ward Stare will lead the orchestra. The concert begins with Rachmaninoff’s tone poem, The Isle of the Dead, inspired by the painting of the same name by the Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901). Rachmaninoff had been searching for a suitable subject for a tone poem for several years when on a visit to Paris in the summer of 1907 he found his inspiration.

Next, Rochester-favorite pianist Jon Nakamatsu performs Beethoven’s incredible Piano Concerto No. 2, which was written to highlight the virtuoso composer himself, who was soloist for its premiere.

Filling the second half of the concert is one of the great works of the 20th century, Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring. Its premiere performance ignited a near-riot in May 1913. Recognized world-round for its excitement and passion, Rite was considered scandalous at the time, with its depiction of the pagan ritual of sacrificing a young woman to bring the onset of spring.

Appointed the 12th music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in July 2014, Rochester native Ward Stare has been described as “inspiring musicians to impressive heights” by The New York Times and “a dynamic music director” by Rochester CITY Newspaper. This past December, Stare made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera for nine performances of Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow with Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in the title role.

American pianist Jon Nakamatsu continues to draw unanimous praise as a true aristocrat of the keyboard, whose playing combines elegance, clarity, and electrifying power. A native of California, Nakamatsu came to international attention in 1997 when he was named Gold Medalist of the Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the only American to have achieved this distinction since 1981. Nakamatsu has performed widely in North and South America, Europe, and the Far East, collaborating with such conductors as James Conlon, Marek Janowski, Raymond Leppard, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Osmo Vänskä, and Hans Vonk.

Nakamatsu records exclusively for harmonia mundi usa, which has released 13 CDs to date. His all-Gershwin recording with Jeff Tyzik and the Rochester Philharmonic featuring Rhapsody in Blue and the Concerto in F rose to number three on Billboard’s classical music charts, earning extraordinary critical praise.

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has been committed to enriching and inspiring the community through the art of music since its founding in 1922. The RPO presents approximately 150 concerts and broadcasts a year, serving up to 170,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region.

There will be a Pre-Concert Talk at 6:30 p.m. in the theater. All ticket holders are invited to attend.

Single ticket prices are $35 for adults, $30 for seniors, and $10 for full-time college students with I.D. Children through grade 12 are always admitted FREE thanks to our Sponsor-a-Student program. Tickets are available at the Smith Opera House and Stomping Grounds in Geneva, Mobile Music in Canandaigua, The Copy Shop in Seneca Falls, online at www.genevaconcerts.org, and at the door. All seating is general admission.

Geneva Concerts has brought live music and dance to the community since the 1940s, especially encouraging young people to attend through the Sponsor-A-Student program and educational outreach programs brought to the schools.

The night of the concert, Geneva Concerts volunteers will be available at the entrance to the theater to assist patrons with mobility problems. Drivers can bring passengers to the front door. We will help them from the car and into the front lobby where seating will be available until the driver parks and arrives with the tickets.

For more information, visit www.GenevaConcerts.org. Contact Geneva Concerts at (315) 789-7716 or info@genevaconcerts.org.

This concert is made possible, in part, by generous underwriting from the Williams Family Foundation, by a continuing subscription from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and the contributions of the supporters of Geneva Concerts.