Taking high art off the top shelf” has been the mission of classical pianist Jonathan Levin since the beginning of his professional career. Now residing in New York City, Levin often returns to his home town of Clayton, North Carolina near Raleigh to direct the annual Clayton Piano Festival, an arts organization with a growing national and even international reputation which has been presenting innovative concert performances and inspiring educational programming for musicians and classical novices alike for the past 4 years. Levin’s goal as Director and Founder, is to garner closer connections with audiences. At the core of this mission are concerts with a central theme to which people can relate. With support from Nevada Opera and in partnership with Steinway Piano Gallery and ARTown, Levin brings his program entitled “American Portraits” to the Steinway Piano Gallery of Reno on July 3rd at 7:00 pm.
“This program captures glimpses of America through some of our most beloved music, including some world premieres of virtuosic solo arrangements I composed based on tunes from the Great American Songbook”, Levin explains. “It’s been a bit daunting as it’s the first time I have branched out into the world of writing music, but I’m excited to debut my work in Reno.” The arrangements, which include well-known songs by Rogers and Hart, Jerome Kern and Cole Porter, draw on his years of experience studying the scores of great romantic composers such as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Alexander Scriabin and Franz Liszt. “In addition, audiences will hear works which be new to them, like the music of George T. Walker and William Bolcom. I wanted to challenge both myself and my listeners by presenting these two polarities in a program which has something for everyone.” The concert will conclude with George Gershwin’s immortal Rhapsody in Blue which Gershwin himself arranged for solo piano. “It is still one of the most popular works performed by orchestras around the world. We hear it on the radio, tv, in the movies, commercials – it’s a timeless work which seems to embody the spirit of an epoch in American history we still search for.”