On Saturday evening, Jonathan Levin announced and began to promote a brand new piano festival with a recital at Hopper Piano Company.

The artist hosted an evening of brief discussion and exquisite playing. The vast range of the program allowed the audience to get a taste of what will be presented at the Clayton Piano Festival in Clayton, NC, which will take place in February 2012. This festival will feature pianists Angelo Rondello, Matthew Harrison, and Levin himself, and music by composer and pianist Christian McLeer.

Levin, a young, vivacious pianist who is a native of Clayton. He debuted with the Raleigh symphony at the age of fifteen. Levin attended Manhattan school of Music in New York City, as well as Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music where he holds a Master’s Degree. He is continuously active in lectures and recitals within the community, and he is the creator of this brand new festival in which he hopes to create a closer connection to audiences through discussion and example.

Levin has a wonderful sense of humor that was incorporated throughout his condensed music theory, history, and audio examples, all of which furthered the close connection between the performer and the audience. It is quite clear that he is very well versed and extremely passionate about his art form.

This program presented works from as early as J.S Bach and as contemporary as Christian McLeer, with his piece titled, “Thank You.” Putting this recent composer on the program allowed the audience to relate with a composer who is still living and actively composing. Levin portrayed the rich, expressive ideas that McLeer had intended. During this performance of “Thank You,” Levin moved his body in a way that enhanced the atmosphere.

The concluding piece was the incredible “Hammerklavier” Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven. Levin explained some of the stresses and struggles that this piece embodies, along the way continuing to paint an image of composers as human beings with genuine feelings. The third movement has been noted as being quite an emotional challenge, and Levin was able to stay with his musical ideas throughout this performance.

Classical music is an intimidating subject to many, but Levin was able to show that music can be easily understood and interpreted in many different ways. Classical music is very much alive today in our society and it is noteworthy that so many younger musicians who desire to make music even more accessible are coming into the profession. We can thank Levin and others like him for this ongoing movement.

Details of future Clayton Piano Festival events will appear in our calendar in due course.

Note: Jessie Dresser, a member of our internship program, is a violin student at Meredith College.