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JCVB Blog

The Johnston County Visitors Bureau BLOG is published weekly with news and feature articles on visiting the county.

Festival Celebrates Five Years of Making and Sharing Music

Festival Celebrates Five Years of Making and Sharing Music

 
The Clayton Piano Festival is celebrating their 5th season this Fall with an astounding line-up of artists. The season schedule of concerts will run October 14th through October 22nd. Organizers are expanding the festival to reach a larger community and have added additional events to celebrate this important anniversary. This year there will be six concerts with one at the Cary Arts Center and another at the Preston Woodall House in Benson, with the remaining events to be held in Clayton.

Both the Creative Director of the festival and a performer every year, Johnston County local Jonathan Levin is excited to showcase the growth of the festival as it enters year five, “Our goal over the years has been to share the joy and exhilaration that great music can bring in a fresh, new way each year, presenting a variety of top level classical artists from around the world.  I think at this point it’s become an anticipated cultural event in the area and we’re very pleased about that.”

The format of the Clayton Piano Festival is built on the premise of accessibility and interaction with the artist. As in past years, there will be intimate dinner concerts at smaller venues, and social “meet the artist” receptions following the concerts to enhance the experience for attendees.  There will be outreach programs to area schools to share the importance of music education and bring concert quality performances to more than 1,000 students.
Clayton Piano Festival Year Five Poster
This year’s concerts include a variety of music genres such as Ragtime and progressive rock.  Levin explains that “the idea is to show the full extent of what the piano can do, not just one discipline.” Performances this year include Rachael Flowers, a multi-talented instrumentalist and composer who lost her sight as an infant. According to Levin the festival is happy to have booked her, “we’re getting her right before she becomes famous. Racheal just had a Hollywood documentary made about her that is already making the film festival circuit.”

Levin, himself always modest, will be a can’t miss performance as well. Just last week he performed a solo recital debut at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Rorianne Schrade reviewed the performance for New York Concert Review and had this to say, “Showmanship, intelligence, more than ample pianism, and sensitive musicality are all wrapped up in one package in this young artist, so he should do quite well in his career.” This year’s festival line-up offers a unique chance to catch Jonathan in his hometown of Clayton.

Along with returning performers Jonathan Levin and Angelo Rondello, newcomer and renown ragtime pianist and composer Mill McNally at the Preston Woodall House and Russian pianist Azamat Sydykov at the Wagner House will be charming audiences with their performances. Which include dinner provided by the venue, and each will also include a reception to meet the artist.

The final gala will truly be a show stopper.  Hear five CPF artists perform, each sharing inspiring insights into a work with special personal significance for them.  Special guest, Mary Prescott, an adventurous, multi-genre artist, joins the others as she shares her unique voyage into learning the art of improvisation. To conclude the concert and the 5th season, all 5 artists will perform together on stage at the same time…on 5 pianos! With six hundred seats to fill, the organizers of the final concert are offering FREE tickets for children up to age 18, one for each paid adult ticket.

General ticket prices for Concerts with Dinner at The Wagner House and Preston Woodall House are $45.00 adult, $35.00 seniors, $25.00 students, concerts only $15.00 for adults and $5.00 students.  For the Sunday performance by Jonathan Levin at the Wagner House, tickets are $15.00 adults and $5.00 students/children.  The final concert performance featuring all five pianos will be $20.00 adults, $15.00 for seniors and military, and FREE for children under 18 years old. Tickets for the event are available at www.claytonpianofestival.org/schedule-tickets and tickets for the final performance may be purchased directly with The Clayton Center at www.theclaytoncenter.com.

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Menacing, Melodious, Masterful

Menacing, Melodious, Masterful

Celebrate the timeless nature of classical music. Be thrilled by the haunting sounds of the season. Explore the collections of masterful composers. The 4th Annual Clayton Piano Festival will regale audiences with a week of expertly themed concerts starting on October 30th and going through November 7th.

Hometown classical musician, Jonathan Levin, started the festival in 2010 to give back to the community where he was raised. "As many may know, I grew up in the Clayton area and it was here that my musical education began as well," stated Levin. "Clayton Piano Festival (CPF) is my way of giving back to a community which gave much to me and to share my love and enthusiasm for great music with as many people as possible."

“Taking high art off of the top shelf” has been the mission of Clayton Piano Festival for the past four years as it has presented fun, family-oriented outreach shows, innovative classes for local music students and accessible, festive concert performances by world renowned guest artists from all across the globe throughout the Clayton area and beyond.

The festival returns this fall with another stellar line up of concerts in partnership with the Historic Wagner House to promote an intimate atmosphere where audiences can experience world class performances up close and personal.  “It’s almost like having a live concert in your own living room”, says Levin.  “There’s no need to know anything about the music before coming or to worry about uptight concert etiquette.  People will have fun and enjoy amazing music, guided through the experience by performers who are as communicative with their performances as they are presenting the music to new audiences.  The idea is for those who aren’t classical enthusiasts to be able to discover something incredible they weren’t sure they would enjoy, and for those who are, to be able to listen with a fresh perspective.” 

This season starts off with a special Halloween party and concert on October 30th called Night of the Living Composers.  The event includes dinner, the concert and a dessert reception afterwards.  Jonathan Levin will treat listeners to a rousing collection CPF Evening 1of some of the most horrible works for the piano, in the best sense of the word of course!   The program includes famous numbers CPF Evening 2 featured in horror movies and other pieces which have themes associated with menace in some way.  Come dressed for the occasion and participate in a costume contest to win free tickets to the concert on November 5th.

On Sunday afternoon, November 1st, Professor at Baylor University and expert on Spanish music, Dr. Paul Sanchez presents an evocative and thrilling collection of works from two of the most influential Spanish composers, Isaac Albeniz and Enrique Granados.   The only American pianist to be invited to study in Spain with the legendary Alicia de Larrocha, Paul will guide the audience through the rich and colorful music of this country.  The concert, called In the Gardens of Spain, explores the dances, tangos, folk influence and traditional melodies that make up the unique Spanish flavor.  

On Thursday November 5th, Russian-born pianist and producer/broadcaster, Yana Reznik presents an evening of Russian favorites titled, From Russia with Love.  The concert includes an exhilarating collection of works which everyone knows and loves like selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and famous preludes by Sergei Rachmaninoff.  You may choose to come early and have a full, wholesome Russian-style CPF Evening 3dinner, or just come later for the concert, which will again be followed by a dessert reception.
CPF Evening 4
The closing concert of the 2015 season is titled Beethoven and Why the Piano Matters, which will be held at Hopper Piano Company in Raleigh. Noted author, teacher, and broadcaster David Dubal hosts this unique look at the life and works of Ludwig van Beethoven through live performances of his piano music featuring the dynamic pianism of Russian born guest artist Michael Bulychev-Okser.  The program explores famous sonatas of his early middle and late periods, highlighting the evolution of his style, which was so inextricably linked to the composers' own life and inner journey.  Audiences will see how this titan rocked the music world, leaving an indelible mark on the history of music and the piano – a force of influence that is still felt strongly today.  

The Clayton Piano Festival is supported by grants, donations, and tickets sales. Ticket prices vary between performances and both a senior and child ticket price will be offered, with package deals as well including the three Wagner House performances. More information and to purchase tickets, visit www.claytonpianofestival.org.

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Think Clayton - Think Valentine's Day

Think Clayton - Think Valentine's Day

Love is in the air in Clayton at area restaurants and special event venues where couples will have several choices for an evening out on Saturday, February 14th.  And not to forget our friends east on I-40 in Benson, the Preston Woodall House is holding a special event too!

From classical music to the Beatles and wine tastings....choose from the following events:

Jonathan LevinClassical pianist Jonathan Levin, will be hosting the 3rd Annual Valentine's Day Gala at the Historic Wagner House beginning at 6pm.  

Titled “Tales of Love from Beethoven to Broadway”, the concert will feature music based in some way on a little thing called…yes you guessed it – Love! There will be a fun mix of classical and some music from the golden age of American songwriting including CPF’s own Jonathan Levin premiering some of his own virtuosic piano arrangements of Broadway favorites by Jerome Kern, Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers.  Jonathan will be joined by two world-class artists, violinist Michael Danchi and mezzo-soprano Nora Graham-Smith.  For the past few years Ms. Graham-Smith has sung roles in operas the world over, as well as in America. She is currently a resident artist at Opera Memphis in Tennessee.  Michael Danchi is no stranger to the triangle area, and has enjoyed a multi-faceted career as a violinist, composer, ballet dancer, sound engineer, and screenwriter.  In addition to performances nationwide, has performed locally as a soloist with the Raleigh and Durham Symphonies and with the Carolina Ballet both as violinist and dancer. 

After the concert there will be a reception where you will be able to mingle with the performers.  For more information and to purchase tickets which are $60.00 per person, contact Paul Black at 919-585-1221

Brick and Mortar  

Save the date for a romantic evening of food & wine! The menu posted below will be paired with wonderful wines from around the world! Taste 6 wines served at 6 different stations paired with fabulous food!
    
     Cheese & Fruit Display
     Italian Wedding Soup with Crostini
     Grilled Shrimp & Grilled Chicken
     Pizza display - variety of our homemade, hand tossed pizzas
     Filet Mignon with rich balsamic glaze
     Chocolate Extravaganza (variety of decadent desserts)
Party begins at 6:30 pm
Tickets:  $40.00
For ticket requests call 919-616-8995

Manning's on Main

Chef Howard Manning, who worked in Raleigh for several years, opened Manning's on Main in August of 2014 to rave reviews and a consistently packed restaurant. His elevated southern menu is flavorful and rich. The restaurant is preparing a memorable Valentine's Day experience with carriage rides, for more information visit the website for hours, location and to review the regular menu.  919-585-7005

The Preston Woodall House

The Preston Woodall House has booked the Todd Montgomery Duo to play at their Valentine's Dinner, Saturday February 14th, playing during both the 6:00pm and 8:30pm seatings! Enjoy this dynamic duo as they play great songs coming from these artists plus many more...Billy Joel, Elton John, Ray Charles, Cole Porter, and Sam Cooke.

The extensive dinner menu includes Prime Rib and Roasted Chicken with hors d'oeuvres, salads, sides and desserts for $80.00 per person (includes tax and gratuity). All meals served with one complimentary glass of champagne.  A cash bar will be available throughout the evening.  Call 919-894-7025 for reservations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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JoCo Has Talent - A Classical Jonathan Levin

JoCo Has Talent - A Classical Jonathan Levin

Getting to work with talented and truly gifted artists like Jonathan Levin, a native of Clayton, is just one of the greatest perks of this job.  It's not very hard to write a few words in a blog or send out press releases to help our local artists. In comparison, concert pianists like Jonathan have literally invested thousands of hours of practice to bring us, the audience, a touch of classical music.

When interviewing Jonathan recently, I asked how do your fingers move so fast along the piano keys, and he replied "it's sometimes just muscle memory and they may move faster than my brain can remember the notes".  How scary, but that's when he relies on those thousands of hours of practice to come through for him and us.

This February 14th, for the third year, the Clayton Piano Festival will give a concert at the Historic Wagner House.  This year's performance is entitled, "Tales of Love from Beethoven to Broadway" and it will expand to include Violinist Michael Danchi and Mezzo Soprano Nora Graham-Smith.  Jonathan will himself perform this year and bring his own piano transcriptions of songs from the Great American Songbook.  Dinner will be served with a reception following the concert to meet the performers.  Tickets are $60.00 per person and available by calling 919-585-1221.

Jonathan is Artistic Director and Founder of the Clayton Piano Festival which seeks to create accessible, educational, world-class concerts and music presentations that uniquely enrich the cultural life of the area. The festival, which presented its first season of concerts, public classes, school outreach and other community events in February, 2012, aims to bridge the gap between performer and audience, bringing classical piano music to people of all ages and levels of exposure to the arts.  For the past three years, he has been Musical Director of Natchez Festival of Music's Educational Outreach Program and is also on the faculty of Remarkable Theater Brigade's Summer Young Artists Program for vocalists.  A sought after collaborative pianist, Jonathan has appeared on the Vox Novus/RTB Composers Voice Concert Series and has worked closely with respected voice teachers Paul Sperry and Monica Harte. 

Jonathan hopes to give that feeling of magic of live performance through interaction with his audience -- how lucky we are his wish and mission is to create magic!  Don't miss an opportunity to hear Jonathan play, or to engage him in conversation about music, photography (another of his passions)....his sense of humor is truly charming and his love for Clayton very obvious!

Jonathan, please don't stop bringing us a touch of magic to Clayton! 

 

 Jonathan Levin plays Gershwin/Wild Virtuoso Etude No. 4 "Embraceable You"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clayton Piano Festival to Capture the Magic of Classical Music

Clayton Piano Festival to Capture the Magic of Classical Music

Ava Singing in Show BoatThe 4th Annual Clayton Piano Festival is scheduled for September 29 - October 10 at The Clayton Center Auditorium in Historic Downtown Clayton in addition to workshops held in area schools.  This year's festival will kick-off with a collaboration with the Ava Gardner Festival featuring iconic classical music from the movies including a segment on another local star, Ava Gardner.  Three more themed performances will be billed as; The inspiration of the church on western music, A celebration of women composers, which will be at The Wagner House and Classical music with a popular twist.


Home-town classical musician, Jonathan Levin began the festival in 2010 to give back to the community where he was raised, and in the venue where at age eight he performed his first recital.  "As many may know, I grew up in the Clayton area and it was here that my musical education began as well.  Clayton Piano Festival (CPF) is my way of giving back to a community which gave much to me and to share my love and enthusiasm for great music with as many people as possible," stated Jonathan Levin, founder of the festival. "Live performance is a vital part of this art form – when a performer is up there on stage tapping in to whatever wizardry the composer may have conjured up and the audience is able to relate and connect with that, there is a shared experience that occurs which is nothing short of magical.  And that is the mission of CPF – to create magic!"


On Saturday, October 4th, emcee Bryan Mims, WRAL news reporter, will lead the conversation about the piano pieces beginning at 7pm.  Following the concert there will be a coffee and dessert reception to meet the artist Azamat Sydykov.  This concert collaboration between the Clayton Piano Festival and the Ava Gardner Museum will interest fans and visitors coming to the Ava Gardner Festival which runs the entire weekend.  Fans of movies and fans of Ava's can enjoy a touch of artistry from her life.  During the hour long performance, the interlude featuring Ava Gardner will showcase songs from Show Boat and Ava's live-long fascination with flamenco music.  Tickets for the Saturday night concert are $20.00+ taxes and fees, and are available for purchase online at www.theclaytoncenter.com or by calling the Clayton Center Box Office, 919-553-3152.


Clayton Piano FestivalAzamat Sydakov, who recently performed at Carnegie Hall will be the featured pianist on Saturday, October 4th.  Sydykov was born into a musical family in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyz Republic, a former Republic of the Soviet Union and now resides in Kazakhstan.  A Member of the International Academy of Creative Endeavors (Moscow, 2009),  Sydykov has been the recipient of many awards and prizes including First Prize in five national music competitions in Kyrgyz Republic, First Prize at the “Musician of the 21st Century” International Piano Competition in Kazakhstan and the Grand Prize at the “EUTERPE” International Piano Competition in Italy in 2009.


It is the mission of CPF to bring outstanding concert pianists from throughout the country to the Clayton area in order to perform concerts and participate in other musically enriching events throughout the community. Through interactive presentations in local schools, public classes for local piano students, and commentary with the concert performances, CPF aims to bridge the gap between performer and audience, bringing great music to people of all ages and levels of exposure to classical music and the arts.

The Clayton Piano Festival list of performances and seminars, times and ticket info:


Sept. 29 – Oct. 3                 Educational Outreach Performances at local elementary schools.
Oct. 4                                 "Movie Tunes: Iconic classical music from the movies." - The Clayton Center,  Azamat Sydykov, 7pm. Tickets $20
Oct. 5                                 "Sanctuary: the inspiration of the church on western music."  -  The Clayton Center, Jonathan Levin, 3pm. Tickets $12/$8
Oct. 7                                 "In Her Shoes: A celebration of women composers." - The Wagner House, Clayton,  Julia Mortyakova, 7pm.  Tickets $20
Oct. 8-10                            Young Artist Seminar – classes and events for local piano students. (location and Schedule TBD)                                              
Oct. 10                               "From Brooklyn to Havana: classical music with a popular twist."  The Clayton Center, Milton Laufer, 7pm. Tickets $12/$8


The Clayton Piano Festival is supported by grants, donations, and tickets sales. Concerts are general seating admission with some reserved seats for Ava Gardner Festival sponsors only on October 4.  More information can be found on their website, www.claytonpianofestival.org or Ava Gardner Festival on www.avagardner.org.

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Beer Wine & Shine Trail

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Travel around the county to four award-winning wineries, two breweries and get a taste of brandy along the way!  Receive a Free $30 coupon book when you complete the trail.

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Meeting Planners

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Johnston County offers conveniently located and affordable conference facilities for meetings, reunions, and unique destination weddings sites.  Why not select a historic home or horse farm for your next event?

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Group Tour Operators

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Groups have discovered exits along I-40 and I-95 for outlet shopping, music theatre, museums and heritage sites.  Call today for custom itinerary planning.

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Hotel Packages

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We have created several special hotel packages including a Girlfriends Getaway for outlet shopping, we know you need a break and great deals on shoes!  Click here to book your getaway today.

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FREE TRAINING

 

Check out what other travelers say about Johnston County, North Carolina on TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor
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