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Biography

Jon Nakamatsu, pianist

A native of California, Jon Nakamatsu claimed a distinguished place on the international musical scene in June, 1997 when he was named the Gold Medalist of the Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the only American to have achieved this distinction since 1981.  A former high school German teacher, he became a popular hero overnight in the highly traditional medium of classical music.

In addition to his appearance with Symphony Silicon Valley, highlights of Jon Nakamatsu’s current season include another return to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, this time for the season-opening concerts, under the baton of Music Director Christopher Seaman.  He also appears as guest soloist with the orchestras of Dayton, Dubuque, Greenwich, Memphis, Portland, San Antonio, Topeka, and Virginia, and with California’s Peninsula Symphony Orchestra 

During the summer of 1997, Jon Nakamatsu replaced Vladimir Ashkenazy in Sào Paulo and Rio de Janeiro as soloist with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and performed at Tanglewood with the Boston Pops, the Klavier Festival Ruhr in Germany and the Montpellier Festival in France.  Since then, he has also appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl and The New World Symphony, as well as with, among many others, the orchestras of Buffalo, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Dallas, Dayton, Delaware, Detroit, Fort Worth, Honolulu, Milwaukee, Naples, New Mexico, Rochester, San Antonio, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Barbara, Seattle, Syracuse, Toledo and Utah.  Abroad, he has been heard as soloist with Italy’s famed Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Berlin’s Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra and Santo Domingo’s Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional.  Mr. Nakamatsu has collaborated with many of today’s leading conductors, among them George Cleve, Sergiu Comissiona, James Conlon, Grant Cooper, Leslie B. Dunner, Philippe Entremont, Neal Gittleman, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Marek Janowski, Michael Lankester, Peter Leonard, Raymond Leppard, Jahja Ling, Keith Lockhart, David Lockington, Christof Perick, Larry Rachleff, Stephen Rogers Radcliffe, Peter Rubardt, Matthew Savery, Alfred Savia, Carl St. Clair, Christopher Seaman, Stanislaw Skrowaczeski, Markand Tharkar, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Osmo Vänskä and Samuel Wong.  His 1998-99 season was highlighted by a White House performance of Rhapsody in Blue, hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton.

Jon Nakamatsu’s extensive recital tours throughout the United States and Europe have featured debuts in New York City (Carnegie Hall), Washington, DC (John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Miami, Houston, San Francisco, Paris, London, and Milan.  The recipient of the Steven De Groote memorial Award for his semifinal round chamber music performances at the Cliburn competition, he has subsequently collaborated with various chamber ensembles, among them the Brentano, Ives, Manhattan, Miami, St. Lawrence, Prazak, Tokyo, and Ying String Quartets.  In both 2000 and 2002, he toured the United States with the Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet.

In July 1999, Jon Nakamatsu made his debut at France’s Evian Music Festival and, one year later, he returned to the Tanglewood Music Festival, the famed summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  He has also appeared at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival with Christopher Seaman and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Festival Casals de Puerto Rico, performing with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Carl St. Clair, and at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Tacoma International Music Festival, Lincoln’s Meadowlark Music Festival, New York’s Skaneateles Festival and California’s Midsummer Mozart Festival. 

Named Debut Artist of the Year (1998) by NPR’s “Performance Today,” Jon Nakamatsu has been profiled by “CBS Sunday Morning” and Reader’s Digest magazine, and is featured in “Playing with Fire,” a documentary about the Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, aired nationwide on PBS.  Earlier, in 19095, he was named the First Prize winner of Miami’s Fifth United States Chopin Piano Competition.  He records exclusively for harmonia mundi usa, which has released six CDs, including an orchestra album containing performances of Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, with Christopher Seaman and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as albums devoted to the music of Chopin, Foss and Wölfl.  Mr. Nakamatsu’s most recent release encompasses Brahms’s Sonata No. 3, Op. 5, 7 Fantasies, Op. 116 and 4 Piano Pieces, Op. 119.

Jon Nakamatsu has studied privately with Marina Derryberry since the age of six, has worked with Karl Ulrich Schnabel, and studied composition and orchestration with Dr. Leonard Stein of the Schoenberg Institute at the University of Southern California.  In addition, he has pursued extensive studies in chamber music and musicology.  Mr. Nakamatsu is a graduate of Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in German Studies and a master’s degree in Education.

   

 

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