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Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra: Ward Stare and Jon Nakamatsu

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Friday, February 1 at 7:30 PM
Smith Opera House
Geneva Concerts

Ward Stare, Conductor
Jon Nakamatsu, Piano

Rachmaninoff: Isle of the Dead
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19
Stravinsky: Rite of Spring

The distinguished American pianist Jon Nakamatsu—known internationally for the panache and elegance of his solo, concerto, and chamber performances—has become a favorite with audiences throughout the world. As a prolific recording artist, Mr. Nakamatsu has set to disc numerous seminal performances on the harmonia mundi label. In his review of Mr. Nakamatsu’s recent performance of Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2, Daniel J. Kushner writes in The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: “Nakamatsu evinced brilliant musicianship. His tone and articulation sparkled and shimmered, while his use of dynamics and energy brought out the lifeblood of each and every phrase.”

The last season brought Mr. Nakamatsu opportunities to perform with some of the finest North American orchestras, including the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Bozeman Symphony, Peninsula Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, Greenwich Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Silicon Valley, Toledo Symphony, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, San Jose Wind Symphony, and Symphoria in Syracuse. Chamber music engagements similarly took him across the United States to Chamber Music Columbus, Brookings Chamber Music Society, Music at Kohl Mansion, Chamber Music International, and Dallas Chamber Music Society, where he collaborated with Imani Winds.

Mr. Nakamatsu has been an active guest soloist with leading orchestras throughout his career; among them the orchestras of Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Rochester, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Berlin, Milan, and Tokyo. He has collaborated with such esteemed conductors as James Conlon, Philippe Entremont, Marek Janowski, Raymond Leppard, Gerard Schwarz, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Michael Tilson Thomas and Osmo Vänskä . His numerous summer engagements have included appearances at the Aspen, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Caramoor, Vail, Wolftrap, and Britt festivals. In 1999, Mr. Nakamatsu performed at the White House at the special invitation of President and Mrs. Clinton.

A high school teacher of German with no formal conservatory training, Jon Nakamatsu’s electrifying performance of Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto won him the Gold Medal at the 1997 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition amidst a field of experienced competition warriors. Mr. Nakamatsu had studied privately with the late Marina Derryberry from the age of six, and worked with Karl Ulrich Schnabel, son of the great pianist Artur Schnabel. He also studied composition and orchestration with Dr. Leonard Stein of the Schoenberg Institute at the University of Southern California, and pursued extensive studies in chamber music and musicology. Mr. Nakamatsu is a graduate of Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in German Studies and a master’s degree in Education.

American-born conductor Ward Stare has been described as “one of the hottest young conductors in America” by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and “a rising star in the conducting firmament” by the Chicago Tribune. He was recently appointed music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Recent seasons included a number of highly anticipated debuts with orchestras around the world, including performances with the Baltimore Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, and the New World Symphony.

He made his debut with the Grant Park Music Festival in July of 2015, and returned to the New World Symphony in 2016. Stare’s frequent collaboration with the Lyric Opera of Chicago began with his debut in 2012 conducting performances of Hansel and Gretel; he returned in 2013 to lead Die Fledermaus, and again in November 2014 to lead Porgy and Bess to rave reviews. Following his critically acclaimed debut with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) in 2013 conducting Il Tabarro and Pagliacci, Stare returned to OTSL the next season for performances of Dialogues of the Carmelites. He made his debut with the Washington National Opera conducting Donizetti’s comic opera L’elisir d’amore in 2014.

Stare served as resident conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra from 2008 to 2012. In 2009, he made his highly successful Carnegie Hall debut with the orchestra, stepping in at the last minute to lead H. K. Gruber’s Frankenstein! The 2013-14 season saw his return to the Atlanta and Detroit symphony orchestras, as well as his debuts with the Syracuse Symphoria, the Jacksonville Symphony, and the Naples Philharmonic with Lang Lang as soloist. Other recent engagements include the Houston, Québec, and Dallas symphonies, as well as numerous engagements with the Saint Louis Symphony where he served as a regular guest conductor on the orchestra’s 2012-13 Family, Special Event, and Subscription series.

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