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Bozeman Symphony 50th Anniversary Season: An American Celebration with Jon Nakamatsu

Friday Sep. 1st, 2017

As an American Orchestra entering its 50th year, the Bozeman Symphony begins a season of celebrations with fitting tributes to the music of our native land. Bernstein’s Candide Overture begins the performance and next, the much-anticipated return of one of our most requested guest artists: Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Jon Nakamatsu, performing Gershwin’s flashy Piano Concerto in F. A deeply introspective moment follows with Samuel Barber’s Essay No. 1, and the finale of Symphonic Dances from one of our greatest American masterpieces, West Side Story. Star Spangled Indeed! Welcoming his return, Jon Nakamatsu first performed with the Bozeman Symphony in February 2003. When the Bozeman Symphony and Montana State University received community funding and support for a new Steinway Model D Grand Piano in 2010, Jon helped during the selection process by auditioning pianos at the Steinway factory in New York.

Performances will be held Saturday, September 30th at 7:30PM and Sunday, October 1st at 2:30PM.  Both performance held at Willson Auditorium (404 West Main Street), Downtown Bozeman.
 
 
JON NAKAMATSU, pianist
“Jon Nakamatsu plays with the calm assurance that comes of having both a solid technique and a gentle, introspective, interpretive spirit.”  
      - Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, April 2011

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.” (May 1, 2015).

In the 2016/17 season, Mr. Nakamatsu joins the Rochester Philharmonic for Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F, the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, as well as the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra and the Helena Symphony. He will also perform in solo recitals across the country, in New Jersey, Pensacola, FL, Waco, TX, as well as several towns throughout the state of California. In May of 2017, Mr. Nakamatsu will travel to Japan for several performances in Okinawa and Miyako Island. In the 2016 summer season, Mr. Nakamatsu’s appearances include the Chautauqua Music Festival, the Aloha International Piano Festival, the Canadaigua Lake Music Festival, the Washington International Piano Festival, and the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, where he is co-artistic director, together with his longtime artistic partner, clarinetist Jon Manasse. In the fall of 2016, Jon Nakamatsu will join the piano faculty of the prestigious San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

During the 2015/16 season, Mr. Nakamatsu joined the Seattle Symphony Orchestra for performances of Gershwin’s Rhaposdy in Blue in October 2015 and returned to the Cape Cod Symphony in September 2015 for the world premiere performance of Grammy-winning composer Gordon Goodwin’s double concerto The Single Step, written for Mr. Nakamatsu and his longtime artistic partner, clarinetist Jon Manasse. Mr. Nakamatsu also performed Rachmaninoff’s Paganini Rhapsody in the Reno Philharmonic’s season opening concerts and joined Florida’s Atlantic Classical Orchestra for Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto in March 2016. Further orchestral appearances included the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Meridian Symphony, Symphony Silicon Valley, Stockton Symphony, New Mexico Philharmonic, Las Cruces Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, and the San Jose and Mission Chamber Orchestras. Both as a solo recitalist and as part of the Manasse-Nakamatsu duo, Mr. Nakamatsu performed in San Francisco, Fort Worth, Hawaii, and other American cities.

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.

Among the many chamber ensembles with which Mr. Nakamatsu has collaborated are the Brentano, Jupiter, Miami, Tokyo, Prazak, St. Lawrence, and Ying String Quartets. He also tours frequently with the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet and in 2008 debuted on the Philharmonic’s chamber music series performing with the Quintet and members of the orchestra. In 2008, the Manasse/Nakamatsu Duo released its first CD (Brahms Sonatas for Clarinet and Piano) which received the highest praise from The New York Times Classical Music Editor James R. Oestreich, who named it a “Best of the Year” choice for 2008.  In addition to their joint concert performances Mr. Nakamatsu and Mr. Manasse serve as Artistic Directors of the esteemed Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, founded by pianist Samuel Sanders in 1979.

Mr. Nakamatsu records exclusively for harmonia mundi USA, and has released critically acclaimed twelve CDs to date. All have garnered high critical praise. Notable releases include an all-Gershwin recording with Jeff Tyzik and the Rochester Philharmonic featuring Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F which rose to number three on Billboard’s classical music charts and a recently released trio disc of works by Brahms, Beethoven, and Weber with Mr. Manasse and cellist Clive Greensmith, which has elicited brilliant reviews from The New York Times  (“Mr. Nakamatsu’s fleet-fingered clarity enhancing the vivacious outer movements and all three playing with deep expression in the Adagio”),  Gramophone (“A most enjoyable disc, beautifully played and recorded, with the three players joining together to make a perfect ensemble”), and audiophile edition (“Every once in a while a disc comes along so good that I would award it six stars if my editor allowed such things”).

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.