Classical Music World: Experience Artist Speaking With Audience About His Music April 17

Manasse/Nakamatsu Duo perform 4 p.m., April 17 at Smith Auditorium. Courtesy photo


By ANN MCLAUGHLIN, Artistic Director
Los Alamos Concert Association

One big change in the world of classical music performance these days is the number of artists who speak directly to the audience about the music they are about to play. Audiences love this. They enjoy having a sense of the artists as people. Even a few very brief comments from the stage can convey a feel for the performer’s personality which, in turn, can enrich the audience’s experience of the performance.

Back in the “old days”, artists were expected to maintain an aura of mystery. Performances were “all about the art.” Classical music was a serious business, too precious to be tarnished by something as mundane as ordinary speech. This tradition still holds true in a lot of big city venues and, of course, not all musical artists are comfortable speaking directly to their audiences. But you can expect to have this experience more regularly now that our culture has become much less formal. 

If you come to hear the Manasse/Nakamatsu Duo April 17 at 4 p.m. in the Smith Auditorium, you will have a chance to experience this trend. Jon Manasse is a splendid clarinetist and also has a very special way with words. Pianist Jon Nakamatsu is his silent partner. They are sort of the Penn and Teller of the concert stage. 

Thanks to YouTube, there are also opportunities to get to know both of these men before you ever set foot in the concert hall. Below are links to two short YouTube clips that I think you will enjoy.

Jon Nakamatsu doesn’t speak from the stage during performances, but this lecture will tell you a lot about who he is. Nakamatsu is unusual in the rarified world of piano virtuosos in that he did not attend a music conservatory. He was teaching high school German and studying piano privately when he won the gold medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1997. In this YouTube clip he addresses contestants at the Cliburn Organization’s International Amateur Competition in Fort Worth in a talk called “The Losers Club.” It is inspiring and funny and a must for anyone who has ever competed for any thing: a medal, a job, a moment in the spotlight.

Click on this link to hear Jon Manasse give a talk to a young audience about the clarinet and why he likes playing the instrument. If you have a child who would like to play the clarinet, this is a perfect introduction to the instrument before attending the concert. You will enjoy it, too!

Visit the Los Alamos Concert Association’s web site for more about the Manasse/Nakamatsu Duo and for complete concert and ticket information. Remember that young folks ages 6-18 will be admitted free!

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