World-renowned pianist to perform

Published 10:49 am Tuesday, February 17, 2009

World-renowned Italian pianist Roberto Plano returns for his fourth appearance with the Austin Symphony Orchestra Sunday.

The concert is at 2 p.m. Sunday in Knowlton Auditorium at Austin High School.

On his first trip to the U.S. in 2001, Plano won the Cleveland International Piano Competition, and subsequently came to Austin in 2002.

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Since then his career continually spiraled upward as he won prizes in Canada, Japan, Spain, Italy and Dublin, as well as being one of six finalists in the prestigious Van Cliburn International Competition in 2005.

He performs all over Europe and North America, a schedule that finds him flying across the Atlantic Ocean many times a year.

In addition to his orchestral and recital appearances, he also has given Master Classes at several colleges.

Last September Plano, with his wife, who is also a pianist, opened a piano academy in their hometown in Italy, adding to his busy schedule.

His congenial personality makes him a favorite for radio broadcasts, such as NPR’s “Performance Today” in New York and Boston’s WGBH.

It has been said by music critics that he is the man capable of stepping into the shoes of Vladimir Horowit.

Others have called him “The Pavarotti of the Piano.”

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reviewed Plano’s debut recital with the Frederic Chopin Society at Macalester College last Feb. 8, with the headline “It was plain to all, Plano deserves stardom.”

The writer (Rob Hubbard) went on to say “This is an exceptional artist … why haven’t we heard of this guy? Plano is better known in Europe. But he’s gradually working his way into the consciousness of American classical music lovers.”

According to the music critic, the audience “came away curious as to why he’s playing in southern Minnesota with the Austin Symphony Orchestra Feb. 22.”

The article concluded with “Plano doubtless left many listeners wishing that he find the stardom he deserves.”

“Why does Roberto Plano come to Austin so often?” is a logical question to ask the artist. Answer: Because Plano said he believes “the people of Austin love music so much.”

“And,” said Marge Dunlap, ASO manger, “he keeps coming back because of the people with whom he had connected in this community, people who love and appreciate him, people who have not only encouraged his artistic gift but have reached out to him and his family and become his friends and American family.”

“We, in Austin, know how blessed and honored we are to have Roberto Plano perform with us,” Dunlap said. “We will never forget the great joy he has brought us both as musicians and friend.”

Tickets may be purchased in advance at Hy-Vee in Austin or at the door prior to the concert.

Children in K-12 are always admitted free of charge.

The concert is presented through the cooperation of Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, Inc. through funding from the McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota State Legislature.