“Novacek earned the lengthy standing ovation that rewarded his performance — he had grappled with a worthy opponent and proved himself its master. He had entered fully into Brahms’s experience of life itself and acted as a lens for its expression.” — The Republican (Springfield, MA)
BACH-STOKOWSKI – Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor
RAVEL – Rapsodie espagnole
BRAHMS – Piano Concerto No. 2
Tonight’s concert features three captivating masterworks that Maestro Bruce Hangen has enjoyed listening to and conducting for many years. He says: “Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 is my all time favorite piano concerto! His music is both classical and romantic — it sits between periods, so there’s a lot to dig into.” Versatile, internationally-known, and Grammy-nominated pianist John Novacek is our soloist. “Ravel is all about senses of color, which I love as a conductor. He really knew how to orchestrate, and his beloved Rhapsodie espagnole features combinations of instruments you don’t find elsewhere. He creates an evanescence of atmosphere.” The concert opens with one of Bach’s “greatest hits,” a work that truly reveals the composer’s genius.
About our guest soloist:
Grammy-nominated pianist/composer John Novacek regularly tours the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia as solo recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist. He began his current season with an appointment to the Piano and Collaborative Piano faculty of The Mannes School of Music at The New School’s College of Performing Arts. Mr. Novacek’s major American performances have been heard in New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ David Geffen and Alice Tully halls, 92nd Street Y, Columbia University’s Miller Theater, Merkin Concert Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Symphony Space, Washington’s The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center, and Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl, while international venues include Paris’ Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Salle Gaveau and Musée du Louvre, London’s Wigmore Hall and Barbican Centre, and Tokyo’s Suntory, Opera City, and Bunkamura halls. Often heard on radio broadcasts worldwide, he has appeared on NPR’s Performance Today, St. Paul Sunday, and, as both featured guest composer/performer, on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. Mr. Novacek took top prizes at both the Leschetizky and Joanna Hodges international piano competitions, among many others. He studied piano with Polish virtuoso Jakob Gimpel at California State University, Northridge, where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree, summa cum laude. Subsequently, he earned a Master of Music degree from New York City’s Mannes College of Music, studying with Peter Serkin in piano and Felix Galimer and Julius Levine in chamber music. His coaches in composition included Frederick Werle, Aurelio de la Vega, and Daniel Kessner. Mr. Novacek has recorded over 35 CDs, encompassing solo and chamber music by most major composers from Bach to Bartók, as well as many contemporary and original scores.