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Tutunov Piano Series begins at SOU

Alexander Tutunov, professor of piano and artist in residence at Southern Oregon University, is the namesake for an annual series of classical concerts presented in the Music Recital Hall on the campus in Ashland.

“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,” Tutunov says in a press release. “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 throughout the series.

The third SOU Tutunov Piano Series begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17, in the Music Recital Hall, off South Mountain Avenue, when pianist Joseph Banowetz performs works by Beethoven, Chopin and Mozart.

Banowetz is known for his performances of works by Franz Liszt, Jorge Bolet and Alfred Brendel. In 1992, he was awarded prestigious Liszt Medal by the Hungarian Liszt Society in Budapest in recognition of his outstanding performances of Liszt and other Romantic literature. Banowetz received Grammy nominations in 2010 for his recording of piano works by composer Paul Kletzki, with accompaniment by conductor Thomas Sanderling and the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra. Fanfare Record Review calls him “a giant among keyboard artists of our time.”

“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," Tutunov says. "Nobody plays the piano with such finesse and style as this man anymore.”

On Nov. 14, Francesco Nicolosi will perform a program of music by Domenico Scarlatti, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Liszt, along with a rarely heard piece by Sigismund Thalberg — a friend and rival of Frederic Chopin. Nicolosi is artistic director of the Sigismund Thalberg International Piano Competition and International Courses of Specialization and Musical Training based in Naples and Rome. 

A Valentine's piano duo will be presented by Ivona Kaminska and Christopher Bowlby on Feb. 6. The program will showcase works by Chopin, Liszt, Robert Schumann, Claude Debussy, Darius Milhaud and Seattle-based composer Jeff Junkinsmith.

“This Romantic program will be sure to please everyone in attendance for this early Valentine Day’s celebration,” Tutunov says. “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.

Antonio Di Cristofano will perform Chopin, Liszt, Alban Berg and Alexander Scriabin on May 1. 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.”

The series culminates on May 22 with a concert featuring Tutunov and yet-to-be-named pianists playing Franz Schubert and Sergei Rachmaninoff. The Emmy Award-winning Tutunov is recognized as one of the virtuosos of the former Soviet Union. Winner of the Belarusian National Piano Competition and the Russian National Piano Competition, he's lauded as an exhilarating, inspired, unique talent.

Tickets to individual concerts cost $20; free to full-time students. A series ticket for the five concerts costs $85. All tickets can be purchased in the box office in the SOU Music Recital Hall, online at sou.edu/performingarts or by calling 541-552-6348.

Alexander Tutunov