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Classical roundup: Keyboard Concerts once again brings home the gold

What do you call a weekend during which the gold medal winner of the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition comes to play an intimate concert in Fresno? Pretty amazing. Plus: The Fresno State Symphony Orchestra kicks off its season. A roundup:

Keyboard Concerts

Yekwon Sunwoo hit it big in the classical piano world with his Van Cliburn gold medal. And traditionally, that means a visit to Fresno not too long afterward.

“We have a pretty good record of getting the gold winner very quickly,” says Andreas Werz, artistic director of the Philip Lorenz International Keyboard Concerts series. “We have a longstanding collaboration with the Van Cliburn competition.”

Sunwoo performs at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, at the Fresno State Concert Hall.

The piano competition — which Werz ranks as one of the world’s top three, along with the Tchaikovsky in Moscow and the Chopin in Warsaw — is held every four years.

Sunwoo is the first Korean pianist to win the Cliburn Gold. He’s also played major venues in Brussels, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Madrid, Helsingborg, Beirut, Taipei, and Hong Kong, demonstrating what the Chicago Tribune called “utmost sensitivity and exceptional tonal refinement.”

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He will play two great standards of the repertoire: Schubert’s Four Impromptus, D.935; and Brahms Sonata in F minor, Op.5.

A third piece, “Ramble on the Last Love-Duet” from “Der Rosenkavalier,” is an opera transcription. Werz is excited because he’s never heard it performed.


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The chance to host a gold medalist is always a treat for Werz. The Keyboard series nabbed the last gold medalist, Vadym Kholodenko, the year after his 2013 win.

The tradition goes back a ways. Consider Jon Nakamatsu, who will be performing with the Fresno Philharmonic on Oct. 21. He won the Van Cliburn gold in 1997 and — you guessed it — played for Keyboard Concerts soon after.

The concert is co-sponsored by the Central California Korean Historical Society.

Tickets are $25 general, $18 seniors, $5 students.


Fresno State Symphony Orchestra

This fine student orchestra opens its season Saturday with a concert titled “Timeless Beauty”:

The concert will open with Beethoven’s dramatic Coriolan Overture, based on the story of Coriolanus, the Roman general who abandons his country to fight for the enemy and ends up dying instead of betraying his people. It will be followed by Schumann’s romantic Symphony No. 4, which he dedicated to his beloved wife Clara. It concludes with Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, a free flowing and innovative symphony with strong influences of Bohemian folk music and Czech-flavored ingredients.  

Thomas Loewenheim conducts. Details: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, Fresno State Concert Hall. Tickets are $15 general, $10 seniors, $5 students.

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

donaldfresnoarts@gmail.com

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