Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Arts Series Opens with Class Top-Rated Pianist to Perform Beethoven Concert

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Arts Series Opens with Class Top-Rated Pianist to Perform Beethoven Concert

Article excerpt

When the Beaches Fine Arts Series kicks off its 25th season

Friday, the audience will be treated to a Beethoven program by

pianist Eugene Istomin that will be repeated a week later at the

Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

"He is probably one of the top five pianists in the world, and

he is doing this program as a favor and a tribute to his

longtime manager, Martha Coleman, who lives in Atlantic Beach,"

said James Dwight Johnson, executive director and founder of the

fine arts series. "And in recognition of the quality of our

series."

Istomin, who will be on stage at 8 p.m. at St. Paul's

by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 416 12th Ave. S., headlines the

first of eight free performances scheduled for the 25th version

of the series. After performing at the Kennedy Center, Istomin

is scheduled for a concert at New York's Carnegie Hall.

Even before the series started, the church was the site of

concerts. Johnson said the idea of combining the spiritual and

artistic for the arts series is historical.

"Art really began in primitive man as a religious expression,"

he said.

Informal concerts were held at church because of its acoustics,

although there was no organization and no way of paying

performers. When a committee of church and community members was

formed to put on the series of performances at the church,

Johnson, who was the organist and choirmaster, was chosen to

lead the group.

"We knew from the beginning we wanted to involve the whole

community," he said.

There were 13 performances in the first season, but the number

was gradually reduced to the eight that make up this year's

series. There have been 202 performances.

Admission has always been free, and that issue is discussed

every season, Johnson said. …

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