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July 5th, 2006 James Bash | Performance
 

Portland International Piano Festival

Young and restless pianists tinkle the ivories and go for blood.

     
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[classical] You might have thought that only gray-haired gents in tuxedos played recitals, but one upcoming festival shows off the hottest young talent in the piano galaxy.

The Portland International Piano Festival, which begins next Monday inside the lumbering World Forestry Center, will be expected to deliver the style of music that communicates to you on levels ranging from below-the-groin visceral to top-of-the-head intellectual.

The recital series jumps into the fast lane with Korean Joyce Yang. Yang won the silver medal last year at the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. She also received $20,000, three year's worth of concert appearances, and a recording contract. That's not bad for a 19-year-old kid.

Another blistering pianist in this stellar recital series is Russian Olga Kern, who has been leaving audiences breathless with her emotional and technical virtuosity ever since she won the '01 Van Cliburn competition at the ripe age of 26.

Or consider 28-year-old Italian Davide Cabassi, another Van Cliburn finalist in '05. Cabassi is known for his gregarious and infectious personality. As is innovative English pianist Joanna MacGregor. Rounding out the series are Canadian Jon Kimura Parker and American Jeffrey Kahane, who will put their 20 fingers together in a program of music for two pianos. You like TV theme music? Pianist Parker often spices up his recitals with unique arrangements from popular shows like The Simpsons. Parker and Kahane might even play a four-hand piece based on the music from The Sopranos as an encore. Hey, counting MacGregor, you can hear six stellar pianists in five concerts of music ranging from J.S. Bach to Astor Piazzolla.

The festival is chockablock with other events, including a piano-inspired film festival that features a documentary tracing the history of a lock of Beethoven's hair. All that and only one piano tuner, Marshall Anderson, who takes cares of the stately instruments, which expand and contract according to temperature and humidity. That's hot.


Portland International Piano Festival, World Forestry Center, 4033 SW Canyon Road, 228-1388. Monday-Sunday, July 9-16. $12-$30. See www.portlandpiano.org for more information.
 
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