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Classical Piano Virtuoso Jonathan Biss Makes Penn State Debut January 19

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Classical musician Jonathan Biss, called a “poetic pianist of the first order” by the Chicago Sun-Times, makes his Penn State debut in a solo recital at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19, in Penn State’s Schwab Auditorium. The Center for the Performing Arts presentation features works by Leoš Janáček, Ludwig van Beethoven and Robert Schumann. The concert also includes a composition by Pulitzer Prize-winner Bernard Rands written specifically for Biss and co-commissioned by the Center for the Performing Arts.
 
Tickets are $27 for an adult, $10 for a University Park student and $17 for a person 18 and younger. Purchase tickets online at www.cpa.psu.edu or by phone at 814-863-0255. Outside the local calling area, dial 1-800-ARTS-TIX. Tickets are also available at three State College locations: Eisenhower Auditorium (weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Penn State Tickets Downtown in the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center (weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and Bryce Jordan Center (weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Each box office location is closed Dec. 23 through Jan. 2. Online orders made during that time will be processed beginning Jan. 3. A grant from the University Park Allocation Committee makes Penn State student prices possible.
 
The Penn State concert features Janáček’s Sonata 1.X.1905, From the Street; Beethoven’s Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57, Appassionata; and Schumann’s Fantasy in C Major, Op. 17. Rands’ Three Pieces for Piano was co-commissioned by the Center for the Performing Arts through its membership in the national consortium Music Accord.
 
Two days after his Penn State premiere, Biss performs the same program in his debut at Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium.
 
Biss, whom the Toronto Globe and Mail describes as “one of the most striking North American pianists of the new generation,” performed his New York Philharmonic debut in 2001. He has since performed with the most celebrated orchestras of North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. He has worked with conductors including Daniel Barenboim, Kurt Masur, Charles Dutoit, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Sir Neville Mariner, Michael Tilson Thomas and Pinchas Zukerman.
 
His most recent recording features Franz Schubert sonatas. NPR Music named the 2009 release, recorded live at London’s Wigmore Hall, one of the best albums of the year.
 
Biss, who grew up in Bloomington, Ind., began piano studies at age 6. Eleven years later he was already studying with the acclaimed Leon Fleisher at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Biss, who graduated from the Curtis Institute in 2001, will begin teaching at the prestigious music school in fall 2011.
 
He represents the third generation in a family of noted professional musicians. Raya Garbousova, his grandmother, was one of the first widely known female cellists. Samuel Barber wrote his cello concerto for her. The pianist’s parents are violinists Miriam Fried and Paul Biss.
 
Gay D. Dunne and James H. Dunne sponsor the presentation. WPSU-FM is the media sponsor. Foxdale Village, a Quaker-Directed Continuing Care Retirement Community, underwrites classics presentations at the Center for the Performing Arts. Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring a visiting artist or local expert, is offered in Schwab Auditorium one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders.