Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Van Cliburn Winner Will Perform

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Van Cliburn Winner Will Perform

Article excerpt

Byline: TAMARA McCLARAN

It's been nearly 10 years since classical pianist Jon Nakamatsu won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, an event that changed his life.

"I think about it every single time I walk out on stage," Nakamatsu said during a telephone interview from his home in California. "You dream about what life would be like once you win a competition. Then you win, and suddenly the world explodes in front of you. A lot of things happen."

An artist who has been described by a New York Times critic as "powerful" and "sweetly poetic," Nakamatsu will perform for the first time in Jacksonville on Sunday as part of the Beaches Fine Arts Series. The free concert begins at 3:30 p.m. at St. Paul's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Jacksonville Beach.

The Van Cliburn gold medal is the musical equivalent of winning Olympic gold and in 1997 Nakamatsu was the first American to win the distinguished international award since 1981. Besides winning a cash prize, Cliburn medalists do a two-year concert tour in the United States and Europe. They play with orchestras and chamber groups and give solo recitals, including a date at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Nakamatsu, who began formal private piano studies at age 6, has no regrets that he had to quit his job as a high school German teacher to tour full time. Before winning the award, he spent six years as a teacher and only played piano after hours.

"At the time, it was really like having two full-time jobs," Nakamatsu said about finding time to practice. "However, with being on the road, it's even more chaotic now than it was back then."

Not all Van Cliburn winners have enjoyed as much success as Nakamatsu. …

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