The distinguished American pianist Jon Nakamatsu - known internationally for the panache and elegance of his solo, concerto, and chamber performances - has become a favorite with audiences throughout the world. Of Mr. Nakamatsu’s January 2019 performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Ward Stare, David Raymond of Rochester City Newspaper wrote:
[Beethoven’s] Second Piano Concerto also strikes me as a work that is smack in the middle of Jon
Nakamatsu's sweet spot as an interpreter. "Elegant" can be a two-edged adjective in describing a performance; Nakamatsu's finely judged reading of this concerto was not only drop-dead elegant, but
also full of Beethoven's signature energy. The pianist added just enough percussiveness to lyrical passages
to keep them from drooping, and his playing of the "Adagio" was hypnotic, particularly at the end: wonderfully focused and wonderfully poetic. —February 1, 2019
Mr. Nakamatsu will perform as soloist with Austin Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony under the aegis of the Cliburn, and Symphony Silicon Valley. He collaborates with the Miró Quartet in two programs at the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival in summer 2019, and appears in chamber concerts with the Jupiter and Modigliani Quartets, as well as Imani Winds. Recital performances include engagements with the Steinway Society of the Bay Area, International Classical Concerts of the Desert, Reynolds Chamber Concerts, and Chamber Music San Francisco.
Mr. Nakamatsu has been an active guest soloist with leading orchestras throughout his career, including the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Atlantic Classical Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Boise Philharmonic, Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Bozeman Symphony, Cape Cod Symphony, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Fresno Philharmonic, Greenwich Symphony Orchestra, Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra, Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Helena Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Las Cruces Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Meridian Symphony, Milan Symphony Orchestra, New Mexico Philharmonic, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Chile, Peninsula Symphony Orchestra, Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, Reno Philharmonic, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, San Jose Wind Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Stockton Symphony, Symphony Silicon Valley, Symphoria Syracuse, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Toledo Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, and West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. His numerous summer engagements have included appearances at the Aspen, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Caramoor, Vail, Wolftrap, Colorado, Aloha International Piano, and Britt festivals, as well as the Chautauqua Festival, where he has served as Artist in Residence since the Summer of 2018.
Among the many chamber ensembles with which Mr. Nakamatsu has collaborated are the Brentano, Escher, Jupiter, Miami, Tokyo, Parker, Prazak, St. Lawrence, and Ying String Quartets, the San Jose and Mission Chamber Orchestra, and Imani Winds. He also tours frequently with the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet and in 2008 debuted on the Philharmonic’s chamber music series performing with the Quintet and members of the orchestra. That same year, the Manasse/Nakamatsu Duo released its first CD (Brahms Sonatas for Clarinet and Piano) which received the highest praise from The New York Times Classical Music Editor James R. Oestreich, who named it a “Best of the Year” choice for 2008. In addition to their joint concert performances Mr. Nakamatsu and Mr. Manasse serve as Artistic Directors of the esteemed Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, founded by pianist Samuel Sanders in 1979.
Mr. Nakamatsu has collaborated with such esteemed conductors as James Conlon, Philippe Entremont, Marek Janowski, Raymond Leppard, Gerard Schwarz, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Michael Tilson Thomas and Osmo Vänskä. In 1999, Mr. Nakamatsu performed at the White House at the special invitation of President and Mrs. Clinton. Other engagements include solo recitals with the American Beethoven Society, University of Georgia, Athens, Arts Council of Moore County, and International Classical Concerts of the Desert, as well as solo performances in New Jersey, Pensacola, FL, Waco, TX, Japan’s Okinawa and Miyako Islands, and several cities throughout the state of California.
He records exclusively for harmonia mundi USA, and has released twelve CDs to date. All have garnered high critical praise. Notable releases include an all-Gershwin recording with Jeff Tyzik and the Rochester Philharmonic featuring Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F which rose to number three on Billboard’s classical music charts and a trio disc of works by Brahms, Beethoven, and Weber with Mr. Manasse and cellist Clive Greensmith, which has elicited brilliant reviews from The New York Times (“Mr. Nakamatsu’s fleet-fingered clarity enhancing the vivacious outer movements and all three playing with deep expression in the Adagio”), Gramophone (“a most enjoyable disc, beautifully played and recorded, with the three players joining together to make a perfect ensemble”), and audiophile edition (“Every once in a while a disc comes along so good that I would award it six stars if my editor allowed such things”).
A high school teacher of German with no formal conservatory training, Jon Nakamatsu’s electrifying performance of Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto won him the Gold Medal at the 1997 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition amidst a field of experienced competition warriors. Mr. Nakamatsu had studied privately with the late Marina Derryberry from the age of six, and worked with Karl Ulrich Schnabel, son of the great pianist Artur Schnabel. He also studied composition and orchestration with Dr. Leonard Stein of the Schoenberg Institute at the University of Southern California, and pursued extensive studies in chamber music and musicology. Mr. Nakamatsu is a graduate of Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in German Studies and a master’s degree in Education. In the fall of 2016, Jon Nakamatsu joined the piano faculty of the prestigious San Francisco Conservatory of Music.