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Unflappable pianist Kasman highlights local amateur event

He's a bearded warrior whose playing has been described as having a "predatory urgency." His last-minute heroics have become the stuff of folk legend. No, he's not Jake Plummer (but you already knew that, right?).

He's renowned Russian pianist Yakov Kasman, and he has rescued both the West Virginia and Oregon symphony orchestras by filling in for injured and absent pianists at the last minute to perform difficult Rachmaninoff concertos that brought stunned crowds to their feet.

This weekend, Kasman is scheduled indeed, featured at the 2006 Celebration of the Amateur Pianist and Rocky Mountain Piano Competition. He'll play Tchaikovsky's "The Seasons" and Rachmaninoff's First Piano Sonata.

"I thought [the selections] complemented each other perfectly for one recital, and will make for an interesting all-Russian program," he says.

Kasman has appeared as a soloist with more than 40 orchestras in the United States, Russia, Europe and Asia since his 1997 American debut at the 10th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Held every four years, the competition provides international exposure to all participants, but especially to its six finalists, who are awarded cash prizes and three years of U.S. concert tours coordinated by the Van Cliburn Foundation.

"I was lucky enough to win a silver medal, and that was the turning point," says Kasman, who currently is a piano professor and artist-in-residence at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "From there, I performed more and more in the United States, until finally my family and I moved there."

Travis Duncan


capsule

Yakov Kasman recital, part of the Celebration of the

Amateur Pianist and Rocky

Mountain Piano Competition

CC's Packard Hall,

5 W. Cache la Poudre St.

Saturday, Aug. 12, 7 p.m.

Tickets: $20 at the Worner Campus Center, 902 N.Cascade Ave.; call 389-6607 or visit apiano.org for more information

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