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Friday, June 20, 2008

Pianist Gekic on tour

Croatian maestro to perform in Oita, Niigata, Fukui, Tokyo


Staff Writer

Flamboyant, daring, provocative, exciting and sensitive: These are among the words used to describe Kemal Gekic, a world-renowned pianist set to tour Japan from June 21 to July 3.

News photo
Master of sonata: Croatian piano prodigy Kemal Gekic will begin a four-city tour of Japan this weekend in Oita. KIYOTANE HAYASHI PHOTO

Born in Split, Croatia, in 1962, Gekic was already playing melodies on the piano at 1 1/2 years old. In 1978, he entered the Art Academy of Novi Sad, in then Yugoslavia, and graduated in 1982 with the highest score ever given for an exam recital.

Soon after graduation, Gekic became a faculty member of the academy's piano department. While teaching in the school, he won prizes at the Franz Liszt Competition in 1981 and the Yugoslav Artists' Competition in Zagreb in 1984.

The following year, Gekic entered the Chopin Competition in Warsaw and was considered an outside favorite to win. Despite a performance that deeply moved the audience and critics, a split jury vote kept him out of the final competition.

However, that disappointing result was a blessing in disguise, as Gekic's reputation soared and invitations to perform abroad poured in.

The Chopin Society of Hannover, Germany, awarded Gekic a special prize for best sonata performance from that failed competition. A recording of his performance sold 60,000 copies in Germany by the end of 1985, and 80,000 copies in Japan.

In the early 1990s, Gekic stopped his concert activity and concentrated on intensive study and pursuing a higher level in his art. During this period, he recorded all the 12 "Transcendental Etudes" by Franz Liszt. This is widely considered the best recorded set of the Etudes.

Over the past few years, Gekic has been touring around the world, wowing audiences everywhere. Currently he is the artist in residence at Florida International University in Miami.

Gekic's concert schedule in Japan includes the Kokonoe Kanko Hotel in Oita on June 21; Ryutopia in Niigata on June 26; Harmony Hall Fukui in Fukui on June 27; Apollo Hall in Hamamatsu on June 28; and Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo on July 3.

At the concerts in Oita, Niigata and Fukui, Gekic will play only selections by Liszt. In Hamamatsu, he will play Chopin's "Polonaise-Fantaisie op. 61," Shumann's "Toccata op. 7," and other selections.

In Tokyo, Gekic will play Chopin's "Ballade No. 4 f-moll Op. 52," Maurice Ravel's "Gaspard de la nuit," and others.

Ticket prices vary from ¥3,000 to ¥5,000. For more information and reservations, call Pro Arte Musicae at (03) 3943-6677 or visit the Web site at www.proarte.co.jp



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