John Kamfonas “Sonatas & Fantasies”

American pianist John Kamfonas, a former resident and Harriet Hale Woolley Scholar returns to the FEU to present a solo program of sonatas and fantasies. In recognition of both the 250th anniversary year of Beethoven’s birth and the 90th anniversary year of the Fondation des Etats-Unis, John Kamfonas will perform renowned American composer John Corigliano’s Fantasy on an Ostinato inspired by the iconic Allegretto theme of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. The program will also include works by Scarlatti, Brahms, and one of Mr. Kamfonas’ own freely improvised fantasies.

“At present, one can no longer perceive either any definite musical forms or any limits to the influence of the fantasia. Everything goes in all directions but to no fixed destination; the madder the better! The wilder and stranger, all the more novel and effective; this is an endless straining after distant keys and modulations, enharmonic deviations, ear splitting dissonances and chromatic progressions, an incessant process and without respite for the listener. In such a way we hear and play nothing but fantasies. Our Sonatas are fantasies…” -Ernst Ludwig Gerber, composer (1818)

These musical genres have always represented two distinct creative ideals – the fantasy, Dyonysian in its free, unencumbered, and spontaneous sounding expression; the sonata, Apollonian in its meticulously crafted and orderly adherence to a preconceived structure. But, as Gerber alludes to, the creative impulse of the fantasy was inextricably linked to the formal constraint of the sonata. Each work on this program explores the creative tension between these two opposing yet inseparable compositional forces- The sonatas resisting their formal conventions through innovative, fantastical deviations while the fantasies seek a sense of sonata-like order amidst the chaos of their daring spontaneity.

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Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1787)
Sonata in F Minor, K. 466
Sonata in A Flat Major, K. 127

John Corigliano (b. 1938)
Fantasy on an Ostinato

John Kamfonas
Improvised Fantasy

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Sonata in F Minor, op. 5
I. Allegro maestoso
II. Andante
III. Scherzo
IV. Intermezzo, “Rückblick”
V. Allegro moderato ma rubato

About John Kamfonas

Putting the raw creative process front and center, pianist John Kamfonas interweaves freely improvised fantasies with works by composers ranging from Scarlatti and Brahms to Barber and Debussy in performances that have been described as “possessing a grandeur that lifted the music into the sublime…and a delicacy that took one’s breath away.” (National Herald, New York) Recent concerts include performances at Merkin Hall (New York), Benderly-Kendall Opera House (Arizona), Salle Cortot (Paris), and Alliance Francaise Auditorium (Bangalore India) as well as summer festivals including Aspen Music Festival, Beijing International Music Festival, and Atlantic Music Festival. Residing in Paris since 2013, Mr. Kamfonas has conducted performance residencies at the Cité Internationale des Arts and at the Fondation des Etats-Unis as a Harriet Hale Woolley scholar. He has also been a featured artist of several Paris based concert series including the Atelier, Inventio, Columbia Sounds and Animato concert series. An avid chamber musician, Mr. Kamfonas has performed and given premieres of works by world renowned composers of today including George Tsontakis, Eric Ewazen, and Victor Kioulaphides whose piano trio had its world premiere in 2012. Mr. Kamfonas’ interest in improvisation and cross cultural projects has also led to collaborations with artists of diverse musical backgrounds including American cellist Eric Edberg, several members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and with Indian classical singer / poet, Amit Chaudhuri through Columbia University’s Institute for Ideas and Imagination. He holds degrees from Columbia University, Manhattan School of Music, and the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris; his principal teachers include Phillip Kawin, Jean-David Coen, Marian Rybicki, and Jean Fassina.

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