Enjoy piano music at its best – Sunday in Hobson

By: 
Vicky McCray
Special to the News-Argus

Virtuoso pianist Thomas Pandolfi will be the featured artist Sunday at Hobson.

This Sunday (March 19) marks the conclusion of the Judith Arts Society’s 2016-2017 Performing Arts Season. The Board brings virtuoso pianist Thomas Pandolfi to the Hobson multipurpose room stage at 4 p.m. 

A Washington, D.C. native, Pandolfi grew up in Montgomery County. He began playing the piano at about 4 years old, playing in public by age 10 and touring regularly by 15. He attended public school for his elementary years, switching to Mater Dei School, a Catholic school for first through eighth-grade boys, for middle school and then on to Georgetown Prep, a Jesuit college preparatory school, for high school. He attended The Julliard School in New York City for six years as a scholarship student and there earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance.

In a 2014 interview with DC Metro Theater Arts, Pandolfi told David Rohde that he started performing slowly but surely after completing his master’s. To earn extra income, he provided piano lessons for a number of students and did a great deal of accompanying.  Eventually Pandolfi was “picked up by management” and his career began in a positive direction.

Today he is an exciting virtuoso who, with each passing season, is becoming more and more sought after by audiences worldwide and showered with superlatives by critics for his passionate artistry and amazing technique.

Pandolfi is fluent in both classical and “pops” genres and has been praised for his innovative interpretations of George Gershwin’s music. On Sunday he will share Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with the JAS audience. The piece is Gershwin’s 1924 musical composition for solo piano and jazz band and combines the elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects. It is one of the most popular of all American concert works.

Chopin is one of Pandolfi’s favorite composers and he will share his love of the composer on Sunday, presenting four Chopin pieces, among them the composers most famous piece – Nocturne in E-Flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2 – and his most admired composition – Polonaise in A-Flat Major, Op. 53 (Heroic).

In addition, the afternoon will feature Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto, a Fantasy on Themes from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, and a Marvin Hamlisch fantasy. Addinsell’s piece was written for the 1941 film, “Dangerous Moonlight,” which depicts the Polish struggle against the 1939 invasion by the Nazis. The latter two pieces include transcriptions by Pandolfi.

Critics have noted Pandolfi provides some of the most impressive piano playing people have ever heard. 

His talent is spectacular and impressive. He plays with authority, clarity and an unusual beauty. One reviewer noted the pianist has a way of making a grand piano sound as though it has 188 keys, not just 88. He has exceptional power when he needs it, but he can also play delicately, bringing out whatever emotions the music is designed to evoke.

A virtuoso pianist, definitely, but at the same time Pandolfi has a comfortable connection with his audience. His excellent spoken program includes helpful comments on what his listeners can expect to hear.

Among his engagements during the 2015-16 Season were guest soloist appearances with The National Philharmonic, Ohio Valley Symphony, North Charleston Pops, Cheyenne Symphony, Maryland Symphony, Alexandria Symphony, Symphonicity, Amadeus Orchestra, McLean Orchestra and the Frederick Symphony.

This season he is a guest soloist with The Paducah Symphony, the Charlotte Symphony (FL), the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic, the Amadeus Orchestra, The Tiraspol Philharmonic, The Alexandria Symphony, and the Maryland Symphony at The Garrett Lakes Arts Festival. 

Pandolfi will also be the Artist in Residence at the Black Rock Center for the Arts in Maryland during this season, and his recital touring schedule will take him across the United States on a 20-state tour, which includes two tours in Montana. The first of these tours brings Pandolfi to Polson, Hobson and Fort Benton, while the second takes him to Malta, Glasgow and Sidney. 

Pandolfi’s international concerts have included those in China and Europe, and last season, he also made his Canadian debut in British Columbia.

An outstanding cross-over artist, Pandolfi’s virtuoso transcriptions of the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Marvin Hamlisch, George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein are in much demand.

Thomas Pandolfi is the proud father of a son and daughter and resides in Washington, D.C.

Join the Judith Arts Society this Sunday in Hobson, 4 p.m., for virtuoso pianist Thomas Pandolfi. Admission is by season ticket or at the door. 

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