The Music program of the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University presents the third annual SOU Tutunov Piano Series, opening on Friday, Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. with pianist Joseph Banowetz performing works by Beethoven, Chopin and Mozart.
Dr. Alexander Tutunov, Southern Oregon University’s artist in residence, is the series namesake. “Over the past few years, I felt there were enough people in the Rogue Valley who are as passionate about the things I do and love doing as I am,” said Tutunov. “We have a fortunate combination of a great venue, terrific supportive audience, and my personal connections in the classical piano music world with the result that we can bring high quality music-making to the Rogue Valley.” Tutunov describes each featured artist’s uncompromising quest for finding “the deepest meaning and perfection in the music they perform” as the common thread through the series.
Joseph Banowetz has performed in over 35 countries worldwide in his forty-year career. His performances have been categorized as one of the “Three B’s” for his performances of Liszt (the other two being Jorge Bolet and Alfred Brendel). In 1992, Banowetz was awarded the prestigious Liszt Medal by the Hungarian Liszt Society in Budapest, in recognition of his outstanding performances of Liszt and the Romantic literature. He has graced countless stages across five continents performing with many prestigious institutions including the St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) Philharmonic, the Moscow State Symphony, the Prague and Bratislava Radio Orchestras, the Budapest Symphony, the New Zealand Symphony (on a twelve-concert national tour), the Beijing Central Philharmonic, Barcelona Concert Society Orchestra, and the Shanghai Symphony.
Banowetz has received two Grammy® nominations, including one in 2010 for his recording of the piano works of composer Paul Kletzki, with Thomas Sanderling conducting the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra (Naxos label). Fanfare Record Review calls him “a giant among keyboard artists of our time.” Tutunov said “this will be an incredible opportunity to hear a world famous artist who has, by the way, been my teacher, mentor and friend for over 20 years. Nobody plays the piano with such finesse and style as this man anymore.”
On Friday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m., Francesco Nicolosi performs a dazzling program of music by Scarlatti, Mozart, and Liszt, along with a very rarely heard piece by Chopin’s friend and rival, Sigismund Thalberg. He is the Artistic Director of the Sigismund Thalberg International Piano Competition and International Courses of Specialization and Musical Training based in Naples and Rome. He has performed in major concert halls worldwide including the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London's Wigmore Hall, the Victoria Hall in Geneva, the Salle Gaveau in Paris, the Opera House and the Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome and the Brahmssaal of Vienna. His tours have taken him throughout Europe, Russia, the United States, South America, Japan and China.
On Friday, Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m., a special Valentine’s piano duo of works by Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy, Junkinsmith and Milhaud will be performed by Ivona Kaminska and Christopher Bowlby. “This Romantic program will be sure to please everyone in attendance for this early Valentine Day’s celebration,” said Tutunov. “Ivona and Christopher are my favorite piano duo who will impress the audience with their superb balance of musicality and technical brilliance in this beautifully constructed program.” Bowlby is the program director at the Chopin Academy of Music in Issaquah, Wash., and the director and vice president of the Seattle International Piano Festival and Competition. Kaminska teaches at the Chopin Academy of Music and is president of the Seattle International Piano Festival and Competition. Both artists maintain a busy concert schedule as soloists and chamber musicians.
Antonio Di Cristofano performs Chopin, Liszt, Berg and Scriabin on Friday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tutunov describes DiCristofano as “the foremost Italian expert in music by a Russian composer — Alexander Scriabin — who will leave everyone breathless with his grand interpretations of a great blend of familiar and rarely performed music.” Di Cristofano’s career has taken him to music halls in Europe, the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and Canada. He also holds master classes at many universities and academies worldwide including Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, the Valletta International Piano Festival and the Conservatory of Thessaloniki.
The series wraps up with a grand finale by Dr. Tutunov and friends playing Schubert and Rachmaninoff on Friday, May 22 at 7:30 p.m. One of the area’s most popular pianists, Emmy Award-winning Tutunov typically plays works for two pianos and compositions for piano and strings at this concert. Tutunov is widely recognized as one of the most outstanding virtuosos of the former Soviet Union. First Prize winner of the Belarusian National Piano Competition and winner of the Russian National Piano Competition, Tutunov's playing was described by Soviet Culture, Moscow, as "exhilarating and inspired, and which demonstrated a unique talent.”
Tutunov is Professor of Piano and Artist in Residence at Southern Oregon University, the Artistic Director of the SOU International Piano Institute and has been Artist in Residence at the University of Alaska Southeast. He just finished a five-year tenure as a voting member of the Grammy Academy. Tutunov was named the Nationally Certified Teacher of Music and the Official Soloist with the Port Angeles Symphony orchestra last year. He maintains a busy performing schedule in Europe, China, Mexico and the United States as a recitalist, soloist with orchestra, and on radio and television. He is also in demand as an adjudicator for piano competitions.
All concerts are held in the SOU Music Recital Hall. Reserved tickets are $20 general, free to full-time students, $85 for the full five-concert series. The Performing Arts Box Office is located in the Music Recital Hall lobby. Box office hours are noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and two hours prior to each performance. Tickets can be purchased with a credit card over the phone by calling 541-552-6348 or online at sou.edu/performingarts.