For our 60th anniversary celebration on April 2 & 3, pianist Jon Nakamatsu returns to the Cape Symphony stage for the first time since 2015.
Jon is also celebrating a major anniversary: 25 years since his stunning Gold Medal victory at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. At the time, Jon was a high school German teacher who had not attended a music conservatory! He was also the first American to win the Van Cliburn Competition since 1981. Needless to say, this was an auspicious beginning to an extraordinary music career.
Did you know that Jung-Ho Pak, the Cape Symphony's Artistic Director & Conductor, also has a connection to the late, world-renowned pianist? Jung-Ho had the honor of conducting Van Cliburn with the World Youth Symphony Orchestra (WYSO) at Interlochen Center for the Arts in the summer of 2006 (also the year Jung-Ho first conducted the Cape Symphony). It was Van Cliburn’s last visit to Interlochen after 18 years of summer performances.
Van Cliburn was truly an extraordinary figure in the world of music. He debuted with the Houston Symphony while in his teens, entered Juilliard at age 17, and won the International Chopin Competition at age 18. Van Cliburn competed in the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in the USSR in 1958, performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, the same piece that Jon Nakamatsu will perform for you in the Cape Symphony’s Happy Anniversary concert! Cliburn’s recording of Piano Concerto No. 1 won the 1958 Grammy and eventually became the first classical album to go platinum.
Also in 1958, while Van Cliburn was still only 24, the National Guild of Piano Teachers announced a piano competition named in his honor. The first Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was held in 1962 and is still ongoing, with 30 of the finest young pianists in the world competing every four years for the Gold Medal. Our special guest Jon Nakamatsu won the Gold Medal in 1997.
On April 2 and 3, Jon Nakamatsu will perform Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, conducted by Jung-Ho Pak with the Cape Symphony. You do not want to miss this momentous occasion!