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Jon Nakamatsu

Jon Nakamatsu


Gold Medalist, X Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; Soloist  

American pianist Jon Nakamatsu continues to draw unanimous praise as a true aristocrat of the keyboard, whose playing combines elegance, clarity, and electrifying power.   A native of California, Mr. Nakamatsu came to international attention in 1997 when he was named Gold Medalist of the Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the only American to have achieved this distinction since 1981.  Nakamatsu, who at the time was a high school German language teacher without formal conservatory training, seized the Van Cliburn jurors and audiences with the polish, musicality, and interpretive depth of his playing.

Since his dramatic Van Cliburn triumph, Mr. Nakamatsu’s brilliant but unassuming musicianship and his eclectic repertoire have made him a clear favorite throughout the world both on the concert circuit and in the recording studio.  Mr. Nakamatsu has performed widely in North America, Europe and the Far East, collaborating with such conductors as James Conlon, Marek Janowski, Raymond Leppard, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Osmo Vänskä and Hans Vonk.  He also performed at a White House concert hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton.

Jon Nakamatsu’s extensive recital tours throughout the United States and Europe have featured appearances in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and in cities such as Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Paris, London and Milan.  He has also worked with various chamber ensembles—among them the Brentano, Tokyo, Kuss, Miami, Jupiter and Ying String Quartets—and has toured repeatedly with the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet.  Together with clarinetist Jon Manasse, Mr. Nakamatsu tours continually as a member of the Manasse/Nakamatsu Duo.  The Duo also serves as Artistic Directors of the esteemed Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival in Massachusetts.

Mr. Nakamatsu records exclusively for harmonia mundi USA, which released his tenth CD in 2010.   His recent all-Gershwin recording with the Rochester Philharmonic featuring “Rhapsody in Blue” and the Concerto in F rose to number three on Billboard’s classical music charts and received extraordinary critical praise.  Other acclaimed releases include an all-Liszt disc featuring the “Dante Sonata”; a recording of Brahms’ Piano Sonata in F minor; and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.  Mr. Nakamatsu’s 2008 recording of Brahms’ Clarinet Sonatas with Jon Manasse was chosen by the New York Times as one of its top releases for the year.  In the fall of 2011, Mr. Nakamatsu will record Brahms’ monumental Piano Quintet with the Tokyo String Quartet.

Jon Nakamatsu studied privately with Marina Derryberry and has worked with Karl Ulrich Schnabel, son of the great pianist Arthur Schnabel.  Mr. Nakamatsu is a graduate of Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in German Studies and a master’s degree in Education.