Piano-Clarinet Duo to Open MSU's Fall Music Series at Akin

Clarinetist Jon Manasse and pianist Jon Nakamatsu will bring their talents to the 2014 Music Series at Akin at Midwestern State University. The Manasse-Nakamatsu performance will begin at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 6, at Akin Auditorium. The event will mark the fourth season of the series, which is sponsored by the Perkins-Prothro Foundation and Joe and Dale Prothro with the Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts at MSU. 

Dr. Martin Camacho, Dean of Lamar D. Fain College Fine Arts, said that in its short history, the Music Series at Akin has brought world-class musicians to Wichita Falls and the Manasse-Nakamatsu duo is no exception. "The Music Series at Akin is a jewel in the city and university's cultural life. It provides us a unique opportunity to hear performances by prominent musicians who are shaping today's musical world. The Fain College of Fine Arts is honored to host artists of such caliber." 

The Manasse-Nakamatsu duo is considered one of the top clarinet-piano duos in the nation. Their performances include solo recitals, concerto engagements, chamber music collaborations with orchestras, university and music festivals both at home and throughout the world. They released their first CD, Brahms Sonatas for Clarinet and Piano, in 2008. Their latest CD, released in 2012, includes both Brahms "Clarinet Quintet" and the "Piano Quintet" with the Tokyo String Quartet. Both albums were released to positive reviews. Manasse and Nakamatsu serve as artistic directors of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival in Massachusetts. 

Manasse is recognized for his charismatic performance and unique sound on the clarinet. Next to being one of the most known artists in his generation, Manasse is the principal of the American Ballet Theater and Mostly Mozart festival. He has served as guest principal of the Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York City, New York Pops Orchestra and many others. He was a winner in the 36th International Competition for Clarinet in Munich and the youngest winner of the International Clarinet Society Competition. Some of his performance highlights as soloist include New York performances at the Lincoln Center, Columbia and Rockefeller universities, 14 tours of Japan and Southeast Asia, and debuts in Jerusalem. 

A native of California, classical pianist Nakamatsu's career took off after winning a gold medal at the 10th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1997, making him the first American to win the award since 1981. Critiqued as an alluring and elegant artist, he has made appearances throughout the nation and North America, Europe and the Far East. Nakamatsu has worked with conductors such as James Conlon, Marek Janowski and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. He remains active with chamber collaborations, orchestra performances and solo recitals. 

The program for the Wichita Falls performance includes sections of Brahms' "Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in E-Flat Major," "Sonata for Clarinet and Piano" by Francis Poulenc, and two pieces commissioned by Manasse and Nakamatsu, "Four Rags for Two Jons" by John Novacek and "Lecuonerias" from "The Cape Cod Files" by Paquito D'Rivera. 

The Music Series at Akin will continue March 3, 2015, with cello artist Julie Albers and pianist Orion Weiss. Albers is a member of the Albers String Trio and the Mary Jean and Charles Yates Cello Chair at the McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. Weiss performs as a recitalist and chamber musician, and has performed with major American orchestras including the Boston and Chicago symphonies. The Akin Music Series began in 2012 with pianist Yefim Bronfman and has since hosted musicians such as cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan, and pianists Lucille Chung, Alessio Bax, and Barry Douglas. 

Tickets may be purchased by contacting the MSU Music Department secretary at the Fain Fine Arts Center at 940-397-4267 between 1-5 p.m. when school is in session. Payments may be mailed to Music Series at Akin, MSU Department of Music, 3410 Taft Blvd., Wichita Falls, Texas 76308. Cash or check only, credit cards cannot be processed. General admission tickets are $25 for each performance or $40 for season tickets. Tickets for senior citizens and military are $22.50 for each or $36 for season tickets.