LEWISTON – Steinway artist Michael Lewin, one of this country’s most gifted and charismatic concert pianists, will open the 2008-2009 Piano Series season with a recital Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Franco-American Heritage Center.

His program, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will include works by Haydn, Liszt, Leschetitzky, Henselt, Griffes and Saint-Saëns, who wrote music inspired by birds.

Highly respected as a teacher, Lewin is a member of the piano faculty at the Boston Conservatory of Music. In 2003, he directed and performed in Steinway’s Gala 150th Anniversary Concert at Boston’s Symphony Hall.

Two years ago, he appeared with the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Chopin’s F minor piano concerto at the Franco center. The Nov. 8 program marks his first solo recital in Lewiston.

Before playing a composition, Lewin often pauses to comment on something special about the piece as a way of sharing his interest and enthusiasm with listeners, a communication he likes to continue with audience members following a performance.

Lewin studied at the Juilliard School and launched his career with victories in prestigious competitions, including the William Kapell International Competition in 1982 and the Franz Liszt International Piano Competition in 1986.

In 1984, following his New York City debut at Lincoln Center, a New York Times critic wrote: “… his immense technique and ability qualify him eminently for success.” Lewin went on to perform to acclaim in 30 countries as soloist with symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles and in solo recitals.

He collaborates with violinist Irina Muresanu (soloist in the Midcoast Symphony’s opening gala earlier this month at the Franco Center), appearing as the Lewin-Muresanu Duo. Last August, he participated with several of his students in the Music Fest held in Perugia, Italy.

Lewin commands a repertoire of 40 piano concertos and his extensive discography reflects the broad scope of his interests and personality. Of his Naxos recording of Scarlatti sonatas, Bryce Morrison of Gramophone Magazine wrote that Lewin was “…as dexterous and assured as he is audacious. Here, there is no sense of ‘studio’ caution, but only liberating and dazzling music-making, live and on the wing. … Lewin’s playing positively brims over with high spirits.”

Lewin’s newest CD, scheduled for release early in 2009, will be titled “If I Were a Bird,” and his next recording project will feature Piano Sonatas and Variations by Haydn. The Nov. 8 recital will present works included in these recordings.

Concert tickets are $15, $12 for seniors. Students 21 and under admitted free. For reservations, call 689-2000 or log on to www.francoamericanheritage.org. To learn more about the season’s schedule and artists, log on to the Franco center’s Web site and click on “Piano Series.”

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