In lieu of a summer competition series, the Cincinnati World Piano Competition (CWPC) will hold a 60th Anniversary Concert at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, at Corbett Auditorium, located at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM).
This special one-night-only performance honors CWPC founder and former Executive Director Gloria Ackerman, who retired in 2013. It features pianists Angela Cheng, Daria Rabotkina and CWPC Artistic Director Awadagin Pratt performing repertoire for piano and orchestra with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) led by Associate Conductor Keitaro Harada.
“This recognition for Gloria’s remarkable contributions is overdue and it’s particularly fitting that we honor her with a concert featuring two past CWPC medalists along with Awadagin, who is, of course, a world-renowned pianist in his own right,” said CWPC Board Chair Jack Rouse.
The program will open with Ravel’s Piano Concerto, performed by 1983 CWPC Gold Medalist Angela Cheng. Cheng, who went on to win the Gold Medal at the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Masters Competition, was also the first Canadian to win the prestigious Montreal International Piano Competition. She is consistently praised for her brilliant technique, tonal beauty and superb musicianship. In addition to guest appearances with the major orchestras in her home country of Canada, Cheng regularly performs with orchestras and in recital across the US and Europe.
Strauss’ Burleske will be performed by 2002 CWPC Silver Medalist Daria Rabotkina who, according to the Washington Post, has impressed audiences and critics alike with her “clearly prodigious musical gifts.” She went on to win the 2007 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, has received top prizes at many international competitions, and has worked with conductors Michael Tilson Thomas, Valery Gergiev and Giancarlo Guerrero, among others.
The concert closes with Pratt performing Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1. In addition to serving as CWPC Artistic Director and Professor of Piano at CCM, Pratt is internationally acclaimed for his musical insight and intensely involved performances in recital and with symphony orchestras. He last performed with the CSO in 2011 for Paavo Järvi’s triumphant final concerts as the Orchestra’s Music Director.
“It is always an honor and pleasure to make music with the world-class musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra,” Pratt said.
As previously announced, this special CWPC performance on July 30 at CCM’s Corbett Auditorium is being presented in lieu of this summer’s competition while the organization examines and explores ways to further build on recent successes.
“Most international competitions do not occur annually and that’s one of the many issues we’re exploring,” Pratt said. “The CWPC remains committed to fostering the talent of young pianists.”
Tickets for the CWPC’s 60th Anniversary Concert are on sale at the Music Hall Box Office, online at cincinnatiwpc.org, or by phone, 513-381-3300.
About the Cincinnati World Piano Competition
Founded in 1956, the CWPC has undergone many changes, artistic, strategic, and otherwise in its 60-year history. One of the most pivotal of these changes occurred in 2013 when the CWPC joined forces with two of Cincinnati’s most revered cultural institutions: the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where Artistic Director Awadagin Pratt also serves on the faculty. The Competition occurs on CCM’s campus and three finalists are afforded the opportunity to perform with the CSO during the final round. Both CCM and the CSO also assist the CWPC with administrative resources.
Among his generation of concert artists, pianist Pratt is acclaimed for his musical insight and intensely involving performances in recital and with symphony orchestras. At the age of 16, he entered the University of Illinois where he studied piano, violin, and conducting. He subsequently enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he became the first student in the school’s history to receive diplomas in three performance areas – piano, violin and conducting. In recognition of this achievement and for his work in the field of classical music, Pratt recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins. Has also been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Illinois Wesleyan University.
In 1992 Pratt won the Naumburg International Piano Competition and two years later was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Since then, he has played numerous recitals throughout the US including performances at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles and Chicago’s Orchestra Hall. His many orchestral performances include appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra and the Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, National, Detroit and New Jersey symphonies among many others. Internationally, Pratt has toured Japan four times and performed in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Israel, Colombia and South Africa.
In November 2009, Pratt was one of four artists selected to perform at a White House classical music event that included student workshops hosted by the First Lady, Michelle Obama and performing in concert for guests including President Barack Obama. He has performed two other times at the White House, both at the invitation of former President Bill Clinton and former First Lady Hillary Clinton.
Pratt is currently Professor of Piano and Artist in Residence at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He is also the Artistic Director of the Cincinnati World Piano Competition in Cincinnati as well as the Artistic Director of the Art of the Piano Festival at CCM. He is a Yamaha artist.
In addition to regular guest appearances with virtually every orchestra in Canada, Cheng has also performed with the Alabama Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Colorado Symphony, Houston Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, Saint Louis Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Syracuse Symphony, Utah Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic. In the spring of 2012, Ms. Cheng made her highly acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut with the Edmonton Symphony. She also made her debut at the prestigious Salzburg Festival in a recital with Pinchas Zukerman during the summer of 2012. Highlights this coming season include the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Sinfonia Toronto, Vancouver Symphony and the Winnipeg Symphony.
In 2009, at the invitation of Pinchas Zukerman, Cheng toured both Europe and China as a member of the Zukerman Chamber Players. She joined them again in the spring of 2010 for a U.S. tour, which included concerts at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and the 92nd Street Y in New York. Subsequent seasons have seen multiple tours of Europe, Asia and South America, including performances at the Musikverein in Vienna, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and at the Schleswig-Holstein, Salzburg and Ravinia festivals.
An avid recitalist, Cheng appears regularly on recital series throughout the United States and Canada and has collaborated with numerous chamber ensembles including the Takács, Colorado and Vogler quartets. Her festival appearances include Chautauqua, Banff, Colorado, Houston, Vancouver, the Festival International de Lanaudière in Quebec and the Cartegena International Music Festival in Colombia.
Cheng has been Gold Medalist of the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Masters Competition, as well as the first Canadian to win the prestigious Montreal International Piano Competition. Other awards include the Canada Council’s coveted Career Development Grant and the Medal of Excellence for outstanding interpretations of Mozart from the Mozarteum in Salzburg.
Rabotkina’s concerto highlights include San Francisco and New World Symphonies, Kirov (Mariinsky) Orchestra, Moscow State Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Hudson Philharmonic, Charleston Symphony, Harrisburg Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica de Concepción and Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. Her orchestral collaborations include conductors Michael Tilson Thomas, Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Feltsman, Julian Kuerti, JoAnn Falletta, Benjamin Shwartz, and Giancarlo Guerrero. Rabotkina has given recitals at the Kennedy Center, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Merkin Concert Hall in New York, Ravinia’s Rising Stars, Dame Myra Hess and PianoForte Salon Series in the Chicago area, the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and in Denmark, Switzerland and Japan.
Winner of the 2007 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, Rabotkina has received top prizes at many international competitions and participated in Russia’s White Nights Festival, Finland’s Kuhmo Festival, Copenhagen’s Summer Festival and Germany’s MusikFest in Kreuth. In the US, Rabotkina has appeared at the Rockport Chamber Music Festival, International Keyboard Institute and Festival, Music Academy of the West and PianoSummer at New Paltz.
Rabotkina was born in Kazan, Russia, into a family of musicians and gave her first solo recital at the age of ten. Her earliest musical steps were guided by her parents, Guzel Abdoullina and Sergei Rabotkin, both outstanding pianists, and Nora Kazachkova at the Special Music School in Kazan. She received her education at the Kazan State Conservatory and Mannes College of Music in New York City under the tutelage of Vladimir Feltsman. Rabotkina also holds a Doctorate degree and the Artist Certificate from the Eastman School of Music where she studied with Natalya Antonova. Rabotkina will be joining the faculty of Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas in the fall of 2016.
Harada’s passion for musical excellence has led him to be a recipient of multiple awards including the Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview and the Seiji Ozawa Conducting Fellowship at Tanglewood Music Festival. Completing his first season as Associate Conductor of the CSO, Harada regularly assists Music Director Louis Langrée and conducts the CSO, Cincinnati Pops, and Cincinnati World Piano Competition, as well as assists James Conlon for the May Festival. Harada also holds the positions of Associate Conductor of the Arizona Opera and Associate Conductor of the Richmond Symphony.
With a growing schedule as a guest conductor, the coming season holds several high profile engagements for Harada. He starts the summer at the 2016 Pacific Music Festival by invitation of Valery Gergiev, makes his conducting debut with Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in the fall, and leads the world premiere performances of Riders of the Purple Sage for Arizona Opera in 2017. He also makes his conducting debut with Boise Philharmonic, West Virginia Symphony and South Bend Symphony Orchestra.
Most recently, Harada made his conducting debut in Japan with the New Japan Philharmonic in a sold out performance as well as his debut with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He led performances of Carmen for Arizona Opera and conducted concerts with Tucson Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Sierra Vista Symphony, and Orquesta Filarmónica de Sonora.
A native of Tokyo, Japan, Harada is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and Mercer University. He completed his formal conducting training at the University of Arizona with Thomas Cockrell and Charles Bontrager. He has also studied under Christoph von Dohnányi, Robert Spano and Michael Tilson Thomas among others. Harada champions creative programming, development of the orchestra as a part of a community’s cultural fabric, advancement of each musician he encounters, and responsibility as an artistic and civic leader.