Classical pianist to grace local arts scene

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World-famous pianist Leslie Howard makes a return visit to Zimbabwe this week to put on classical music recitals for Performing Arts Bulawayo and Celebrity Subscription Concerts in Harare.

His Bulawayo performance will be on Thursday evening at the Robert Sibson Hall in the Zimbabwe Academy of Music, while in Harare the recital will be at 4pm on Sunday at the Harare International School Theatre. At both shows he will perform works by Liszt and Rachmaninov.

Howard is in the middle of the busiest year of his professional life, celebrating Liszt’s 200th Anniversary with 80 concerts all over the world, a tour that stated with a recital in London’s Wigmore Hall.

In commemorating the anniversary, the Hyperion music label has released the entire 99-CD collection of the complete piano music of Ferenc Liszt played by Howard.

He was engaged on this project for 14 years, the largest recording project ever undertaken by a solo classical musician.

A renowned concert pianist, Howard has given recitals and concerto performances all over the world and is a familiar figure at international festivals.

His repertoire is immense; with more than 80 concertos, he has played with many of the world’s great orchestras.

He was born in Australia, educated there, in Italy and in England, but has made his home in London for more than 30 years. Besides Liszt, Howard’s recordings include music by Franck, Glazunov, Grainger, Grieg, Granados, Rachmaninov, Rubinstein, Sibelius, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.

During the past year he has recorded four new CDs: Liszt New Discoveries 3, a two-CD set of world première recordings for Hyperion; 25 Études in Black and White, his own compositions recorded for ArtCorporation; and the Rachmaninov Sonatas for Melba Recordings.

In the 1999 Queen’s Birthday Honours Howard was appointed a Member in the Order of Australia for service to the arts as a musicologist, composer, piano soloist and mentor to young musicians.

In 2000 he was honoured with the Pro Cultura Hungarica award, and in 2004 was decorated by the President of Hungary with the Medal of St Stephen. In 2007 he conducted the English Chamber Orchestra in the Royal Festival Hall in the presence of the Prince of Wales.

President of the British Liszt Society since 1988, Howard is also a regular writer and speaker on music and broadcaster on radio and television; he frequently gives master classes around the world.