Pianist Emanuel Ax will perform at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts

Pianist Emanuel Ax, revered as one of the greatest musicians of our time, will perform on Friday, October 25 at 8 p.m. at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University. A pre-concert "Art to Heart" discussion with Dr. Laura Nash, director of the Fairfield University Classical Music Department, will take place from 7 to 7:40 p.m.

Renowned for his elegant, soulful interpretations of both classic and modern compositions, Mr. Ax has graced the stages of the world's premiere concert halls. Committed to his art, he performs about 100 times a year, pairing his poetic temperament with major symphony orchestras and chamber music ensembles, and commissioning and debuting innovative new music. He's also known for a longstanding musical partnership with virtuoso cellist Yo-Yo Ma, with whom he's played for more than 20 years.

A 2000 Seattle Times review hailed Mr. Ax as "one of the finest musicians to sit before a keyboard" and a 1998 New York Times critic wrote that he played with such understated beauty "that one simply stepped back in awe and gratitude."

The son of Holocaust survivors, Mr. Ax was born in Lvov, Poland and raised in Winnipeg, Canada. He studied at the Juilliard School in his teens and continued there into his early 20s, while attaining a degree in French from Columbia University.

Mr. Ax first captured public attention in 1974 when, at age 25, he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. In 1975 he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists and, four years later, took the coveted Avery Fisher Prize.

At the start of his career, Mr. Ax showed a fondness for Chopin. In review after review, critics have noted Mr. Ax's natural affinity for the Polish composer's unusual blend of poetic flow and decisiveness.

Mr. Ax's passion for Haydn came through in the 1980s and 1990s, when he recorded several of Hadyn's works, including a Grammy-winning album of Hadyn piano sonatas.

Devoted to chamber music literature, Mr. Ax regularly works with Ma, Young Uck Kim, Cho-Liang Lin, Peter Serkin and Jaime Laredo, and had been a frequent collaborator with the late violinist Isaac Stern. He has recorded with Ma several times and the duo has won three Grammy awards for the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. The pair also teamed with Richard Stoltzman for a Grammy award-winning album of clarinet trios.

In recent years, Mr. Ax has continued to surprise and invigorate audiences with his interest in modern composers. In 1997, he gave the world premiere of a new piano concerto, "Century Rolls" by John Adams, with the Cleveland Orchestra, presenting the European premiere a year later with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. His programs often mix classical masters with 20th-century composers, including Sir Michael Tippett, Hans Werner Henze, Joseph Schwantner, André Previn and Aaron Copland.

"What's wonderful about new music for performers and audiences is that if the piece is good in and of itself, that's exciting," Mr. Ax told the Los Angeles Times. "It makes you hear things in a different way. You haven't been told what to think, which is very liberating."

In addition to his concerts and recordings for Sony Classical, Mr. Ax has played for the soundtracks of two movies based on the lives of composers. It's his playing you hear as Chopin in "Impromptu" and as Beethoven in "Immortal Beloved."

Beethoven will be part of Mr. Ax's Fairfield appearance. His program, which is subject to change, includes Beethoven's "Variations and Fugue in E-flat Major, Op. 35, "Eroica" and "Variations in F on an Original Theme for Piano, Op. 34." Works by Schubert and Johann Sebastian Bach round out the program.

When he's not on tour, Mr. Ax spends time at the New York City apartment he shares with his wife of more than 25 years, pianist Yoko Nozaki. The couple has two grown children, Joseph and Sarah. Though music critics laud his work, Mr. Ax is known for a self-effacing sense of humor. Asked what makes him satisfied with a performance, he told The Ottawa Citizen: "I'm always happy to get over 70 percent of the notes! A good batting average makes me happy. But also just if I've played a performance and I feel I've really enjoyed it, then I'm happy."

Tickets for Mr. Ax's solo Fairfield appearance range from $30 to $40. For tickets, call the Quick Center at (203) 254-4010 or toll free, 1-877-ARTS-396 or visit the website, www.quickcenter.com. WSHU-FM is the media sponsor for the concert.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 10, 2002

Vol. 35, No. 37

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