Acclaimed pianist performs

Lincoln Performance Hall
Portland State University
1620 S.W. Park
Saturday, Jan. 26
7:30 p.m. (pre-concert lecture starts at 6:30 p.m.)
Sunday, Jan. 27
4 p.m.
$25 regular/ $21 senior and PSU faculty and staff/ $12.50 student
All seating reserved

Portland State University is proud to present lauded pianist Naida Cole in her Portland debut as part of its Piano Recital Series. The Canadian native will be performing twice this weekend at Lincoln Hall, and arrives with an impressive amount of credentials and praise. She will be playing three pieces and Saturday’s show will include a pre-concert lecture.

Cole graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto at age 13, the second youngest person ever to graduate from the esteemed institution. While there she studied both piano and flute and went on to study under Leon Fliesher and Robert Willoughby at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. She earned two additional bachelors of music degrees before going on to receive her masters of music degree at the Universite de Montreal, working there with Mark Durand. Her professional credits are no less impressive.

In 1997 she became the highest placing Canadian in the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, winning prizes for best performance of the commissioned work and best chamber music performance. From there she has continued to blaze a trail for Canadian artists becoming the first of her country’s classical performers contracted to Deutsche Grammophon in its 100-year history and also becoming the first Canadian classical artist signed by Universal Music Canada.

She has played with numerous orchestras and philharmonics and made her recital debut at the distinguished Kennedy Center in 2000. She arrives in Portland having played throughout the world, including such landmarks as Carnegie Hall in New York City and Los Angeles’ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

This weekend’s program features Corigiano’s “Etude Fantasy”, Copland’s “Piano Sonata” and “Vingt regards sur l’Enfant Jesus” by Messiaen. All three compositions are soaring and relaxing, able to challenge the listener but also entertain. While chamber music is far from my field of expertise, hearing the music was not difficult. There is a very familiar feel and rather than a sense of intimidation at my lack of knowledge of the genre I instead felt welcomed. These compositions have an inviting quality and in Cole’s deft hands there is truly little room for disappointment.

The show is sponsored by the PSU Piano Recital Series, which began in 1978 as an opportunity to enrich and educate the community by reaching out to present recitals by some of the best pianists in the world. To this end Saturday’s show will even feature a lecture beginning one hour beforehand to introduce and contextualize the performance.

This is an excellent opportunity for classical enthusiasts and the uninitiated to be able to see a world-renowned musician and learn about a genre of music that can sometimes feel difficult to make a part of one’s life. Of her performances the BBC Music Magazine has stated, “What matters most is what you believe at the time, and Naida Cole convinced me I had never heard some of these pieces played so well, or at any rate, never in quite such a special way.” Whether you have seen piano recitals all of your life or have never had the chance, Cole’s performance seems like it will be a special performance to witness.