Sergei Babayan Preview- The Virtuoso Pianist at The Skyline Piano Artists Series/American Liszt Society Festival Concert April 27

Piano Master Sergei Babayan will be appearing in concert this Thursday night, April 27th both as part of Northwestern University’s Leigh and Henry Bienen School of Music’s Skyline Piano Series and as the introductory event of the 2017 American Liszt Society Festival hosted by Bienen. The concert will take place at The Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive, on the Evanston campus.

Pianist Sergei Babayan; photo by Christian Steiner

On May 5th, Babayan will also be performing in a program entitled “Virtuoso Soloists” as part of the 44th Annual Bach Week Festival; that concert will feature a double-keyboard performance with his former student, Grace Fong, now Director of Keyboard Studies at Chapman University Conservatory of Music. The event will be held at Nichols Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston. Both concerts will begin at 7:30 P.M.

 Babayan has won consecutive first prizes in several major international competitions including the Robert Casadesus International Piano Competition, the Palm Beach International Piano competition, the Hamamatsu Piano Competition, and the Scottish International Piano Competition. His students have included many distinguished and award-winning pianists.

  Babayan regularly performs with the world’s foremost conductors and orchestras as well as appearing in numerous recital and chamber music engagements around the globe. In 2015 Babayan performed with  world renowned conductor Valery Gergiev and The London Symphony at The Proms Festival in London, performing Sergei Prokofiev's Concertos No. 2 and 5. (His collaboration with Gergiev began in 2003, performing the Witold Lutoslawski piano concerto with The Mariinsky Theater Orchestra). This was broadcast live on The BBC.

Piano artist Sergei Babayan; photo by Marco Borggreve


He has worked with such legendary chamber music partners as violinist Ivry Gitlis and pianist Martha Argerich. He began the collaboration with Argerich in Lugano, Switzerland, at Argerich’s Lugano Festival, with the performance of Babayan’s arrangements from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet”. Argerich then invited him to play that program at the prestigious Ruhr Festival, in Essen, Germany; they will be performing these arrangements in a series of concerts throughout Europe next season.

 Other important highlights of Babayan’s past seasons include a duo recital with former student Daniil Trifinov at Wigmore Hall in London, a recording on Medici TV of both a duo recital with Trifinov as well as chamber music with cellist Gautier Capuçon and violinist Liza Batiashvili from the Verbier Festival, and the Verbier Festival performance itself, with solo recitals performing Bach’s entire “Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1” and the “Goldberg Variations”.

 Acclaimed for the immediacy, sensitivity and depth of his interpretations, Babayan has been hailed for his emotional intensity, bold energy and remarkable levels of color.

Sergei Babayan, pianist


This reviewer had the opportunity to interview the much-decorated artist on the eve of the concert about his relationship with the music of Liszt and Bach, in light of the upcoming concerts here. The enthusiastic, erudite and affable virtuoso commented in pertinent part as follows:

From childhood, he has loved Franz Liszt, “As a figure, as a person, as a great teacher, and for his influence on the music of the 2oth century; he opened new doors”. Babayan confided, “I was fascinated by his concerti and by the ‘Rhapsodies’, which are pure poetry”, adding, “The ‘Rhapsodies’ are colors of the piano and the orchestra.”

He mused, “The music of Bach is like an ocean which has complete healing power. If one is in any upset emotional state, it will restore equilibrium.” He noted, “Bach held deep beliefs, the best and noble ideals, which are reflected in his music in a sublime harmony and beauty. The music has an incredible combination of the physical and metaphysical; it can lift you up or bring you back to earth.”


Sergei Babayan, piano virtuoso

The program/selections for the Skyline/Liszt concert are as follows:

-Franz Liszt, “Ballade No. 2 in B Minor”
-Vladimir Ryabov, “Fantasia in C Minor”, Op. 21, in memory of Maria Yudina
-J. S. Bach, selections from the “Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach”:
     “Prelude in C Major”, BWV 939
     “Prelude in C Minor”, BWV 999
     “Menuet-Trio in G Minor”, BWV 929
     “Prelude in E Major”, BWV 937
     “Sinfonia in E-flat Major”, BWV 791
     “Prelude in D Minor”, BWV 926
     “Prelude in C-sharp Major”, BWV 872
     “Prelude in F Major”, BWV 901
-Frédéric Chopin
     “Polonaise in C-sharp Minor”, Op. 26
     “Valse No. 2 in C-sharp Minor”, Op. 64
     “Barcarolle in F-sharp Major”, Op. 60
-Franz Liszt, “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12”, S244/12

 Date and Time: 

Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 7:30pm


Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston


Sergei Babayan

Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of The Bienen School of Music

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