Pianist John McKay to perform Oct. 18 guest recital

BEMIDJI, Minn. — Classical pianist Dr. John McKay will perform a guest recital of compositions by Haydn, Brahms, Barron and Chopin at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 18, in the Thompson Recital Hall of the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex on the campus of Bemidji State University.

The concert will be offered free of charge.

McKay retired from the music faculty of Gustavus Adolphus College in 2004 after teaching piano and music history for 28 years. His program will include music of the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as a newly commissioned piece by Mortimer Barron.

The program
•    “Sonata in E flat major,” written by Franz Josef Haydn in 1790 for Marianne von Genzinger of Vienna, an accomplished pianist and wife of Peter Leopold, the personal physician to Prince Esterhazy. Haydn described the piece as “somewhat difficult, but full of feeling.”
•    “Eight Piano Pieces, op. 76,” part of a collection of 40 shorter piano pieces written in the 1870s by Johannes Brahms, also in Vienna.  The music is abstract, some pieces livelier and extroverted and others quieter and more reflective.
•    “The Six Wives of Henry VIII,” a suite of pieces written by Barron in 2007 describing in thumbnail sketches the six wives of Henry VIII.
•    “Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brilliante, op. 22,” written by Frederic Chopin. The first, Spianato, has a leisurely tempo with the melody as a fine thread spun across the bass. The polonaise is a stately Polish dance in three-quarter time.

The artist
Prior to launching his teaching career, McKay lived in Europe from 1962 to 1969 and gave recitals in Brussels, London, Vienna, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Munich, Berlin and Cologne. While teaching at the University of Toronto in 1971-1972, McKay presented the complete works for solo piano by Johannes Brahms in a series of four recitals at Toronto’s Town Hall. As a result of a sabbatical in 1985-1986, he performed Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas in a series of eight concerts.

A native of Montreal, Canada, McKay earned his bachelor’s degree in music from McGill University and his graduate degrees at the Eastman School of Music. He has appeared often as a soloist with the Mankato Symphony Orchestra. He also ran a chamber music series at Gustavus for 17 summers.

This recital is made possible by a grant provided by the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council with funds provided by the McKnight Foundation.

For more information, please call the BSU Department of Music at (218) 755-2915.

Oct. 18
– 7:30 p.m. – Classical pianist John McKay in a guest artist recital presented by Bemidji State University. Location: Thompson Recital Hall of the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex, BSU campus. Admission: free.