LEWISTON – Ninety-three-year-old pianist Frank Glazer, one of Maine’s best-known musicians, will performs at Bates College in two concerts marking the anniversaries of important debuts in his long career.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 1, Glazer and musicians from the Portland Chamber Music Festival will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the pianist’s first and only performance to date of Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, Glazer wil reprise the program he played in his Carnegie Hall debut 60 years ago to the day. This diverse program includes compositions by Handel, Brahms, Schubert and Copland.

Both concerts take place in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell St. They are open to the public at no cost, but tickets are required. For more information, contact (207) 786-6135 or [email protected]

In addition, Glazer will offer a short program commemorating Felix Mendelssohn’s 200th birthday in a Noonday Concert Series event at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3. This concert also takes place in the Olin auditorium and is free of charge, with no ticket requirement.

Glazer, who turns 94 on Feb. 19, is a musician of international renown, still vital and active after decades of touring, composing, recording and teaching. He first performed the Mendelssohn concerto at his junior high school graduation in Milwaukee, accompanied by the school orchestra.

“As soon as I finished, my friend said to me, “Gee, how many pages did you memorize there?’ ” Glazer recalled. “I said, ’41.'”

“Now, I’m not going to play from memory. That’s the one thing I’m yielding to in consideration of my physical condition,” Glazer said. Nevertheless, “I’m amazed at how much of it I remember” after 80 years away from the concerto.

Accompanying Glazer on Feb. 1 will be players from the Portland Chamber Music Festival, who will round out the program with string octets by Shostakovich and Mendelssohn. These musicians represent the DaPonte String Quartet, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Conservatory. For more about the festival, visit www.pcmf.org.

Glazer’s 1949 Carnegie Hall debut marked his return to the stage after military service and a sabbatical that included intensive study of piano technology and the anatomical basis of piano technique.

After that layoff, Glazer found himself a bit nervous about performing again. “In order to bolster my self-confidence to walk onstage at Carnegie Hall, I said to myself, ‘Now, you don’t ask them – you tell them.’ ” That was the last time, he added, that he needed such a pep talk.

The program that Glazer will revisit on March 4 spans three centuries, from the seldom-heard Chaconne in G major by 18th-century composer George Frideric Handel to a set of variations by Glazer’s near-contemporary Aaron Copland.

Stylistically, the program is “all over the place, but at least it shows that I tried different styles,” the pianist said. “I couldn’t decide on what I played best because I hadn’t played in six years or more. I just played what I thought would make a good program.

“I’m grateful to be alive to do it,” he added.

Glazer, of Topsham, has been a resident artist at Bates since 1980. His career includes numerous recordings, a television program in the 1950s and countless solo recitals and performances with orchestras and chamber ensembles, including the New England Piano Quartette, of which he was a founder.

He taught at the Eastman School of Music for 15 years before coming to Maine in 1980. With his wife, the late Ruth Glazer, he founded the long-running Saco River Festival in Cornish.


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