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Release: Feb. 9, 2001

Pianist Constance Keene will present free UI recital March 25

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Constance Keene, a pianist who has won not only the coveted Walter W. Naumburg Piano Competition but also the admiration of other pianists -- including international superstars Artur Rubinstein and Vladimir Horowitz -- will present a free recital at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 25 in Clapp Recital Hall on the University of Iowa campus.

Keene, who teaches piano at the Manhattan School of Music, will visit the UI as the final guest of the School of Music’s Piano Festival 2000-2001.

During her visit to the UI campus, Keene will present a master class with UI students at 9:30 a.m. Monday, March 26 in Clapp Recital Hall. The master class may be observed by the public free of charge.

For her program March 25, Keene will play a transcription for piano of J. S. Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, the Sonata in E Flat Major, op. 13, by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, and the four Scherzos of Frederic Chopin.

Designed to help young artists at the beginning of their careers, the Naumburg prize -- awarded to pianists every four years -- has been called by the New York Times "in its quiet way the most prestigious (musical prize) of them all." Like many other esteemed artists, Keene credits the Naumburg award with getting her professional career started on a firm footing.

Keene soon achieved another distinction and extensive attention from press and public alike, when she became the first woman ever asked to substitute for Horowitz, for an engagement with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. And her career received another boost when Rubinstein heard her recording of the Rachmaninoff’s preludes.

"I was flabbergasted by the fantastic color, sweep and imagination, and last but not least, by the incredible technique," he wrote of the recording. "I cannot imagine anybody, including Rachmaninoff, playing the piano so beautifully."

Since then Keene’s international career, on stage and on disc, has included appearances on major recital series and with the world’s leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia, the Chicago, the Halle and the Berlin Philharmonic. In chamber music, her collaborations with Yehudi Menhuin at the Gstadd Festival won critical acclaim, as did her celebrated tour, playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, with Benny Goodman.

Keene’s discography includes, in addition to the preludes and etudes of Rachmaninoff, music by Griffes, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Dussek, Brahms, MacDowell, Schumann, Beethoven, Godowsky, Albeniz and her husband, pianist/author Abram Chasins.

Featured in David Dubal’s book, "Remembering Horowitz," she is herself a contributor to Clavier magazine. She is a frequent adjudicator for a number of international competitions, including the Van Cliburn, the Naumburg, the Scottish International, Young Concert Artists and several others. Her master classes have taken her to Asia, Europe and South Africa.

She is the recipient of numerous critical awards, including High Fidelity’s Critics Choice; Stereo magazine’s Special Merit; and Billboard’s Classical Special Merit. She was also singled out twice in one year by the American Record Guide’s Composers Overviews for her outstanding recordings of Chopin and Rachmaninoff. She is vice-president of the Leschetizky Association, dedicated to excellence in the performance and teaching of the piano.

An annual event, the Piano Festival is a celebration of piano performance and teaching. It includes master classes and performances from outstanding visiting artist-teachers from around the world. This year, the festival has featured Keene and Hungarian pianist Gabor Csalog.

The Naumburg competition was founded in 1926 by Walter W. Naumburg, an investment banker and an amateur cellist who wanted to help bring recognition to young artists by giving them recitals and other assistance. Today, the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation continues in the pursuit of his ideals. His desire to assist the young gifted musician in America has made possible a long-standing program of competitions and awards in solo and chamber music performance, composer recordings, conducting and commissions. The competitions in 2001 and 2002 will be for the cello and the piano.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts.

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