Stone Church Arts takes great pride in Immanuel Church’s nine foot Steinway grand concert piano. So from time to time, we invite world class concert pianists to come and perform. James D’Leon jumped at our invitation and will be performing a concert at 7:30 pm on Saturday, November 10, at Immanuel Episcopal Church, the stone church on the hill, 20 Church St., Bellows Falls. He will perform works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Toru Takemitsu, and Franz Liszt. He will also perform two works with a Halloween theme: Ghost Variations for piano (1991) by George Tsontakis and Danse Macabre Op. 40 by Camille Saint-Saens.
Born in South Korea
into a musical family, James D’León began the piano at the age of 4 and
performed his first solo recital at the age of 5. After receiving early piano
training from his mother, he was awarded a full scholarship to the prestigious
pre-college program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied
with May Kurka and Milton Salkind. As the winner of the Young Soloist’s
Competition of both the San Francisco Symphony and the Palo Alto Chamber
Orchestra, he performed the Grieg Piano Concerto and Mozart’s Piano Concerto
No. 23 at the age of 12. Upon the advice of May Kurka, he relocated to
Pennsylvania where he honed his technique and performance skills with Miriam
Gottlieb in West Chester. By the age of 14, he had won every local competition
in the state culminating in his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the
Academy of Music performing the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2.
He continued his piano studies with George Sementovsky, a student of master teacher Rosina Lhevinne at the Juilliard School in New York. With Sementovsky, he learned and refined his Russian keyboard technique, which culminated in top honors as a summa cum laude graduate from Temple University’s Esther Boyer College of Music in Philadelphia. This study greatly influenced his style and philosophy of piano performance, especially in regard to physical movement. He was eventually awarded a fellowship to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he studied with Thomas Schumacher and received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance and Literature.
From there, he competed and won praise in many international piano competitions such as the Gina Bachauer, William Kapell, Leeds International, and the Van Cliburn Competition. He was also a top five finalist in the Naumburg International Competition where he was selected from a pool of more than 250 extraordinary pianists. Afterwards, he received top honors in the New York Artist International Competition that led to his New York Debut Recital at Carnegie Hall, and the Gold Medal at the New Orleans International Piano Competition, which helped launch his performance career.
In 2009, he was selected as an official Steinway Concert Artist listed on both the prestigious New York and Hamburg, Germany rosters. Since then, his performances have taken him throughout England, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Canada, and 40 states throughout the continental United States.
His performances have garnered critical praise from audiences and critics everywhere including the Philadelphia Inquirer, which stated that he performed with “exciting pianism and powerful emotion.” The Salt Lake Tribune commented that “D’León was a musical sorcerer who mesmerized the audience with every single note.” After his performance in the prestigious Reading Festival in England, International Piano Magazine stated that “D’León is one of the latest U.S. pianists to watch, and his recital was an absolute sheer and dazzling delight!” During the summers, he has served as Artist-in-Residence for many international music festivals including the Banff Festival in Canada, the Boyle Festival in Ireland, the Schlern Festival in the Italian Alps, and the Mendocino Music Festival on the northern California coast.
As a chamber musician, he has performed with many of the world’s finest chamber groups that include the Inman Trio, the Muir String Quartet, and the Shanghai String Quartet, with whom he performed the Brahms Piano Quintet to a capacity audience that resulted in a standing ovation. In addition he is a popular master-class presenter and adjudicator who has given master classes in more than 75 universities around the world and served as a judge in the International Young Artist Piano Competition in Washington D.C., and International Artist Competition in South Korea.
As a recording artist, his first two recordings have included the Charles Ives Piano Sonatas and Aaron Copland’s Piano Sonata, which both received top praise from the American Record Guide and comments such as “Remarkably played…the result is a revelation…This recording is a real treasure!” His 3rd recording included the great Schubert Bb Piano Sonata D. 960 and the Liszt Ballade No. 2 in b minor, which garnered the following praise from E-Music Magazine:“It is remarkable…and if you think you have heard it all with the Schubert Bb Sonata, take a listen to this disc!” He has released a 4th recording on the German Col Legno Recording label performing works by Czech composer Ladislav Kubik. Upcoming projects include the first recording of Argentine composer Ástor Piazzolla’s complete tangos transcribed for piano quintet.
Today, D’León is known as a rare and completely versatile pianist who is just as comfortable performing a concerto as he would be playing a full solo recital or collaborating with a world-class chamber group. He continues to dazzle audiences and keep them on the edge of their seats with his commanding technique, expressive body movement, and searching interpretations.
James D’Leon will perform at 7:30 pm on Saturday, November 10 at Immanuel Episcopal Church, 20 Church Street in Bellows Falls, VT. Doors will open at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $17.00 for adults ($13.00 for seniors and children under 12) in advance and $20 ($15) at the door. Tickets may be purchased at Village Square Booksellers (Bellows Falls), Toadstool Bookshop (Keene, NH), Brattleboro Books, Misty Valley Books (Chester), at www.brattleborotix.com, or at the door.