USF Piano Series Tunes into the Adventurous and Unexpected

By Kurt Loft

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October 3 through April 3
University of South Florida
Details here
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What is the most important piece of piano music ever written? Something by Beethoven, Liszt or Chopin?

How about a work no one has actually heard, because it contains not a note of actual sound from the keyboard.

This would be 4′ 33′′ by the avant-garde modernist, John Cage, who instructed the performer to sit quietly for four minutes and 33 seconds – and invite listeners to reflect on the value of silence.
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The work changed the way musicians and audiences interact, and even how programs evolved. Yes, we can always attend a concert of traditional favorites, but isn’t it exciting to throw ourselves into unexpected and challenging repertoire that tests how we listen?

This is a premise of the Steinway Piano Series at the University of South Florida, which offers five free Sunday afternoon recitals from October through April. Now in its 17th season, the series at the university’s Tampa campus is the brainchild of Svetozar Ivanov, professor of piano at USF since 1999.

Aside from his own keyboard skills and work as a composer, Ivanov is known for unusual concert formats that blend music with other art forms. These include documentary footage, art films, animation, poetry, short stories, live dance improvisation, paintings, lighting design and live internet streaming. 

“My goal has been to promote artists that I find interesting and intriguing,’’ Ivanov says. “I often bring artists who I think offer something different, even if it’s controversial. I like to challenge the audience from time to time with out-of-the-mainstream performers and repertoire.’’

For a taste of Ivanov’s style, check out his DVD Perpetual Tango, which explores the synthesis between music, movement and multimedia. His latest video projects include Music of Shadows and the Poetry Series, a poetry-inspired collection of ten short films.

Here’s a list of events for the upcoming season
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Gloomy Sunday 

October 3 at 4 pm, USF Theatre 1 

Ivanov presents a collection of short multimedia performances, each featuring the work of one poet integrated into the musical ambiance of a particular composer. Additional artistic ingredients are added, drawn from dance, film footage, animation or painting.

Composers include our adventurous friend Mr. Cage, as well as Cowell, Scriabin, Berio, Crumb, Harrison, Ustvolskaya and Rzewski. Representative poets are Sappho, Borges, Apollinaire, Lorca, Akhmatova, E. E. Cummings and Paz. 

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Fantasies and Transcriptions 

October 17 at 4 pm, Barness Recital Hall, USF

Acclaimed Belgian virtuoso Stijn De Cock presents an afternoon of fantasies and transcriptions by Liszt, Mendelssohn, Busoni, Scriabin and Copland. 


Fancy – for Two to Play 

November 7 at 4 pm, Barness Recital Hall, USF

Palestinian guest artist Ghadeer Abaido joins Ivanov in a program featuring works for piano four-hands by Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Kurtag, and Lang. Special guests include soprano Stephanie Sager and mezzosoprano Sarah Klopfenstein.
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The Collective
Worlds of Debussy 

January 23 at 4 pm, Barness Recital Hall, USF

A prize winner from numerous international piano competitions, Xiting Yang explores the influence of French Symbolist poetry, Gamelan music, American vaudeville and the impact of Wagner on the music of Debussy.
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Arthur Greene
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Steinway Series Finale – Arthur Greene  

April 3 at 4 pm, USF Concert Hall 

The season ends on a conservative but engaging note, featuring pianist Arthur Greene. Described as “a profound musician” (The Washington Post), and “a masterful pianist” (The New York Times), he presents an afternoon of popular works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninov and Grant Still.
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Tickets are free – not even a handling charge – but must be reserved in advance through Ticketmaster. A direct link for each concert can be found by typing Steinway Piano Series into the search bar on the Ticketmaster website.

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The USF campus is located at 4202 E. Fowler Ave. in Tampa.
For more information you can call (813) 974-2311.


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