Jonathan Levin’s enthusiasm for music is infectious. And he wants to spread his enthusiasm for all things piano to the residents of Johnston County by bringing together an accomplished list of performers at the Clayton Music Festival, Feb. 8 – 15, 2013.
Growing up in Clayton, he was introduced to the piano by a happenstance purchase his father made when Levin was nine years old. One day his father brought home a Clavinova keyboard and announced that Levin and his brother would be taking piano lessons.
Levin began taking piano lessons with Dara Edwards, a piano teacher in Clayton, who currently runs the Riverwood Music Academy. At his first recital under Ms. Edwards’ instruction, Levin became addicted to performance.
“There’s something very rewarding about it,” said Levin of his first time in the spotlight. He was nine at the time.
Levin went on to make his debut with the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra when he was 15. He has performed with the Durham Symphony and the North Carolina Symphony, and at Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland. Most recently he was awarded Second Prize at the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition and was recipient of the Alan Walker Award from the American Liszt Society.
Levin was quite self-motivated after that first recital and credits Dara Edwards for helping him achieve his success. She knew that Levin was very talented and therefore introduced him to Marilyn Brown, the founder and director of the Raleigh Conservatory.
Under Brown’s instruction, Levin was challenged to step up his abilities and was introduced to a wider variety of music.
Levin went on to study privately in Manhattan with Craig Ketter, one of Brown’s former students. While there he was accepted into the Manhattan School of Music and was exposed to people with Levin’s energy and love for music.
They had that “obsessive element that you have to have to develop these skills,” said Levin.
Off the top shelf
Levin understands that classical music is misunderstood by many as something out of reach, or perhaps even out of touch. Through his performances, Levin “seeks to provide a format where those new to classical music can discover something remarkable they didn’t know they would enjoy,” while at the same time giving seasoned concert goers a fresh perspective.
Levin’s personal goal is intertwined with his goal in creating the Clayton Piano Festival. Through educational outreach, the young artist’s seminar and performances from five classical pianists, the festival seeks to bring great music to people of all ages and levels of exposure to classical music.
There are handfuls of great performances available in Raleigh, Durham or Chapel Hill any given month. Levin aspires to have people from those areas driving to Clayton to see similar great performances.
Levin admits that there’s a “personal connection with the audience that you won’t get with a larger audience in Raleigh.”
That’s because of the smaller venues and the narrative format embraced by the scheduled performers. Listening to music becomes more a meaningful experience with there’s a personal connection. Performers will share a bit about the music they will play, the composition and the composer, giving the listener some context.
Jonathan Levin will kick off the Clayton Piano Festival with a free educational outreach performance of “Peter and the Wolf” at the Library of Johnston County and Smithfield on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. Several other educational outreach performances are scheduled prior to the festival, including one for homeschoolers at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at First Baptist Church in Garner. Contact Misty at email@example.com for more details.
Joining Levin for the festival are Margaret Evans, Randolph Foy, Matthew Harrison, Craig Ketter, Angelo Rondello and Vlada Yaneva. The complete festival schedule can be found at www.claytonpianofestival.org.
Contact Mary Lahr Cain at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-552-5675.