Classical pianist to play at Summer Music Festival Wednesday at Gobin

Monday, June 27, 2011

John Kamfonas, a young New York classical pianist who also improvises and plays in rock bands, has seen his growing career has taken him from Aspen, Colo., to Philadelphia to Beijing -- and this week to Greencastle.

He performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church as the Greencastle Summer Music Festival presents its fifth concert of the summer.

Admission is free since the festival is funded by donations from individuals and local businesses.

"John is one of the young 'next generation' professional musicians I went to New York on sabbatical to experience first hand," said Eric Edberg, Professor of Music at DePauw and the founder and director of the festival. "He's a fabulous classical musician who just received his Master of Music degree from one of the world's great conservatories -- the Manhattan School of Music.

"He also improvises and plays in rock bands. His concert here in Greencastle will use all three of these skills."

In addition to improvisations, Kamfonas will perform music by Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, and "For a Little White Seashell: Five Pieces Based on Greek Folk Dances" by Manos Hadjigakis.

The concert will conclude with improvisations on songs by Michael Jackson.

"Or at least that was the plan last I talked to him," Edberg said. "With improvising musicians, you never know where the spirit may lead them."

Edberg believes the concert will appeal to both the older traditional classical-music audience who regularly attend the concerts as well as younger people who might mistakenly assume classical concerts are dull or stuffy.

"We've got a great young guy in his early 20s, creating music on the spot, embracing rock music as well as classical. Many performers of his generation find it natural to combine different genres of music in one event. They don't necessarily think of it as classical music or rock music -- it they love it, it's just good music."

Kamfonas's penchant for improvisation, passion for the classical repertoire, and interest in indie rock have led to such varied performances as a fully improvised solo piano concert at Columbia University, solo and collaborative harpsichord performances with Manhattan School of Music's Baroque Aria Ensemble, and an appearance at the Knitting Factory on electric keyboard supporting singer-songwriter Rachel Rossos.

Kamfonas' recent East Coast solo engagements include performances in Syracuse, Philadelphia and at Steinway Hall in New York City

Summer festival performances include International Academy of Music in Tuscany, Aspen Music Festival, PianoSummer at New Paltz, and Beijing International Music Festival and Academy, where Kamfonas had the honor of performing in the final young artist gala concert at the Central Conservatory of Beijing.

Kamfonas holds a Bachelor of Arts in music and economics from Columbia University in New York and a Master of Music in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music.

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