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One of the greatest pianists in the world, Marc-André Hamelin, will present Beethoven’s final three sonatas 8 p.m. tonight at Lafayette’s Williams Center for the Arts.

The performance is the second annual Dr. Aaron M. Litwak Concert. Tickets for the public cost $18 and may be purchased by calling the box office at 610-330-5009.

Hamelin combines virtuosic flair, a refined poetic lyricism, and a probing mind for musical form. In his Lafayette concert, he draws upon this full arsenal of interpretive genius to reach one of the great summits of piano literature, through which Beethoven grappled with ultimate mysteries of artistic composition: Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109; Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major, Op. 110; and Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111.

“Artists and organizations hoping to revitalize classical music should look to Mr. Hamelin,” states TheNew York Times. He is called “one of the most adventurous and certainly the most courageous pianists of recent times” by International Piano Quarterly. TheLos Angeles Times notes, “Hamelin commands tons – nay, acres – of technique, all of it used to articulate, color and enliven the intriguing music at hand.”

Winner of the 1985 Carnegie Hall Competition and a three-time Grammy Award nominee, Hamelin is featured in The Composer-Pianists: Hamelin and the Eight by Robert Rimm, published by Amadeus Press. His numerous festival appearances include Ravinia, the Ruhr Piano Festival, Mexico’s Cervantino, Reykjavik Arts Festival, Singapore International Piano Festival, Snape Maltings, and the BBC Proms in London. He has toured with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Helsinki, Philadelphia, the BBC Symphony, and the Royal Concertgebouw.

Hamelin recently performed at a variety of summer festivals, including Santa Fe, Ravinia, Scotia, Schwetzingen, and the Weimar Lizst Festival. His 2004-05 season also features recitals at the Ottawa Chamber Music Society, Texas Conservatory for Young Artists at Plano, and a return visit to the Mannes College of Music’s International Keyboard Institute and Festival in New York. Other recital performances include those in Rome, Paris, Milan, Edinburgh, the University of Washington in Seattle, Cornell University, Tallahassee, Oklahoma City, and his return to San Francisco Performances, the second in his three-year series of annual concerts there.

Hamelin’s orchestral engagements include season-opening concerts playing Rachmaninoff No. 2 with the Montréal Symphony and Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, the Grieg Concerto with the London Philharmonic, Brahms No. 2 in Lahti, the Gershwin Concerto in F with Leonard Slatkin and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic at the Concertgebuow, and a European tour playing Saint-Saens Concerto No. 2 and Mozart k. 595 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

His last season began with appearances with the Montréal Symphony and Jacques Lacombe for Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2 at the Lanaudiere Festival; Rachmaninoff No. 2 with the Detroit Symphony; and recitals at International Piano Festival at Mannes College, and in Quebec, Toronto, and Ottawa. Hamelin also presented recitals in Boston, Buffalo, San Francisco, Vancouver, Montréal, Seoul, Oslo, Helsinki, at Middlebury College, and at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. He performed the complete Iberia cycle of Isaac Albeniz in Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, the Miller Theater in New York, and London’s Wigmore Hall. Orchestral engagements included the symphony orchestras of Montréal, Winnipeg, Edmonton, as well as the Bournemouth Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Tokyo Philharmonic and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and a return to the Montreal Symphony later in the season for Rachmanioff No. 3.

The 36 recordings in Hamelin’s discography include concertos by Alkan, Bernstein, Bolcom, Henselt, Korngold and Joseph Marx, as well as solo discs of Alkan (Canadian Juno Award 1996), Catoire, Grainger (Soundscapes Award 1997, Australia), Liszt, Reger, Roslavets, Rzewski, Schumann, Villa Lobos, The Composer-Pianists: From Alkan toHamelin (Deutschen Schallplattenkritik Prize in 1997 & 1998), and the complete sonatas of Medtner and Scriabin. His recording of the Busoni Concerto with the CBSO under Mark Elder received resounding critical acclaim, while the double album of the complete Chopin-Godowsky Studies won the 2000 Gramophone Instrumental Award. After receiving a double nomination for the Busoni concerto and the Chopin-Godowsky Studies, he was the only classical artist to play live at the 2001 Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. He received another Grammy nomination in 2002 for his recording featuring the works of Alkan.

Born in Montréal, Hamelin began his piano studies at age five and was nine years old when he won the top prize in the Canadian Music Competition. His father, a pharmacist by trade who was also a keen pianist, had introduced him to the works of Alkan, Medtner, and Sorabji when he was still very young. His principal teachers were Yvonne Hubert, Harvey Wedeen, and Russell Sherman; he studied at the Ecole Vincent d’Indy in Montréal and then at Temple University in Philadelphia where he now makes his home.

The nationally recognized Performance Series at Lafayette attracts more than 10,000 people each season. It has been cited for performing excellence by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Chamber Music America, Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund, Pennsylvania Arts and Humanities Councils, and Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

The 2004-05 Performance Series at Lafayette is supported in part by gifts from Friends of the Williams Center for the Arts; by the F.M. Kirby Foundation; by provisions of the Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist-in-Residence Program, J. Mahlon and Grace Buck Foundation, and Croasdale Fund; and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

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