Czech-born pianist Lukáš Vondráček will open this year's Corvallis-OSU Piano International Steinway Piano Series with a 4 p.m. performance on Sunday at Oregon State University.

The concert will be held in Austin Auditorium at The LaSells Stewart Center, 875 SW 26th Street, Corvallis.

The 32-year-old Vondráček’s is the recent winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels and plays dates throughout the world; before his Corvallis performance, he is playing concerts in Prague and Asia. 

Rachelle McCabe, the OSU music professor who helps organize the Steinway Piano Series, said Vondrácek is devoted to the music of his native country. So the program starts with three works by Czech composers: Vítêzslav Novák’s “Memories, Op. 6”; Josef Suk’s “Love Song, Op. 7, No. 1”; and four selections from Bedřich Smetana’s second book of Czech dances.

The second half features a two works by Robert Schumann, the poetic and dreamy "Arabesque" and the much bigger "Carnaval."

"In order for us to comprehend 'Carnaval,'" McCabe said, "I think it’s important to understand a bit about Schumann’s own inner world. Schumann suffered from mental illness and battled with terrible mood swings and emotional extremes. ... The 21 short character pieces that make up 'Carnaval' are deeply personal and reflective of Schumann’s state of mind.  Vondracek has a vivid imagination of his own, and I’m sure he will reveal the huge range of moods in 'Carnaval,' everything from triumph and ecstatic joy to anguish and heartache."

Tickets are $25 in advance or $28 at the door. Advance tickets are available online at corvallispiano.org or locally at Grass Roots Books & Music. Youth ages 8 to 18 and all college students with valid ID will be admitted free.

The series resumes on Jan. 13, with a performance by Jeremy Denk, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow who's considered one of the world’s most insightful and individual pianists.  On April 14, the pianist Yeol Eum Son, from South Korea, will play a recital of Chopin and Rachmaninoff. 

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