Pianist Simon Ghraichy Set for Bard Music Festival, 8/8-16

Pianist Simon Ghraichy Set for Bard Music Festival, 8/8-16

Simon Ghraichy, the 29-year-old, prize-winning, Paris-based, Lebanese-Mexican pianist, is set to appear at The Bard Music Festival August 8 - 16. Additionally, Simon will be launching a new CD, "DUELS," on September 30, and making his Carnegie Hall debut Thursday, October 15.


In its 26th season, the Bard Music Festival turns, for the first time, to Latin America. The focal point is Carlos Chávez, the central figure in Mexican music of the 20th century. The most eminent of Latin American modernist composers, Chávez's synthesis of markers of Mexican identity with modernism led Aaron Copland to praise him as "one of the first authentic signs of a New World with its own new music."

Simon Ghraichy will appear in the following four programs at the 2015 Festival:

Sat. August 8, 1:30PM: "The Parisian Influence"

Sat. August 14, 8PM: "East and West"

Sat. August 15, 1:30PM: "New York New York"

Sun. August 16, 1:30PM: "Post-World War II Latin America"

"Despite being raised in Europe, I kept very tight links with my native background's cultures, especially the music of Latin America," says Ghraichy. "My program, 'Liszt & the Americas,' is partially a compilation of works by Latin American composers I discovered during my numerous trips. Carlos Chávez is one of them. When Leon Botstein invited me to be part of the 26th edition of the Bard Music Festival, dedicated to Chávez, I felt thrilled to be able to put forth my Parisian and Latin influences in the service of the works to be performed during the festival."

For tickets and more information, call 845-758-7900 or visit www.FisherCenter.Bard.edu.


"Liszt and the Americas," will feature Simon Ghraichy at the piano performing a program of Liszt compositions "Sonata in B Minor," "Funeral March dedicated to the souvenir of Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico," as well as works by Godowski, Gottschalk, Lecuona, Ponce and Villa-Lobos. Liszt never visited the Americas. (He was afraid of the boat crossing.) Nonetheless, Liszt had strong links with the New World. Often organizing picnics and festivities to honor the Fourth of July for his more than thirty American pupils in Weimar, he was known to improvise variations on "Yankee Doodle." Many of his European students immigrated to the USA and founded piano schools in the Lisztian virtuosic tradition, among them Otto Singer, Arthur Friedman and Alexander Siloti, who later was Rachmaninov's mentor. Liszt also personally knew Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the Louisiana-born American composer and pianist who had lived for many years in the Caribbean and Latin America and died in Rio de Janeiro playing his own composition entitled "Morte". Gottschalk not only played Liszt's works but also dedicated his own Mazeppa to Liszt. In 1867, Franz Liszt composed and dedicated a funeral march to the memory of Maximilian, the Emperor of Mexico. Liszt was so intrigued by the New World that he quoted in a letter to Baron Georg Von Seydlitz: "If cataclysms [...] were to devastate Europe from end to end, I would try to find refuge in the West Indies".

Says Simon Ghraichy, "Carnegie Hall has always been a dream for me, an aspiration. To me, as a European musician, Carnegie Hall reflects an America where all cultures and musical genres are welcome. I feel very honored to be having my New York City recital debut at that institution, especially since the 2015-2016 season is its 125th anniversary, and also the 50th anniversary of Vladimir Horowitz's - my favorite pianist - great return to the musical scene after 10 years of absence... in a concert at Carnegie Hall."

For tickets and information, visit www.CarnegieHall.org.

Ghraichy's Carnegie Hall debut is the first stop in a "Liszt and the Americas" tour that will play engagements at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC on March 16, 2016, and Mexico, Berlin and Paris in fall 2016.


Ghraichy's new CD, "DUELS," will be released September 30. The new CD, to be released by Dutch record label, Challenge, features Ghraichy performances of Schumann's "Kreisleriana op.16," Liszt's Sonata in B Minor, and Liszt's transcription of Beethoven's 7th Symphony (Allegretto).

"Schumann's 'Kreisleriana' display the sometimes calm, sometimes stormy duality of the composer's character," says Ghraichy. Liszt's B Minor Sonata is an extraordinary one-movement pianistic journey, whose dueling elements serve as an allegory for Liszt's personas as both a worldly dandy, and a fervent Catholic.Beethoven's Allegretto from the 7th symphony is full of melancholy beauties punctuated by a sudden gleam of sunshine."

The new recording follows Ghraichy's debut CD, "Always in Motion: Opera Transcriptions and Paraphrases by Franz Liszt," which was released in 2011 in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Liszt's birthday, and is available online from iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify.

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