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Lakes Area Music Festival presents pianist Evren Ozel

Minneapolis native and pianist Evren Ozel returns to Brainerd on Sunday, Nov. 6 as part of the Lakes Area Music Festival’s fall programming. A master of the works of Frédéric Chopin, Ozel will

Evren Ozel smiling
Award-winning pianist and Minneapolis native Evren Ozel will perform at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts in Brainerd as part of the Lakes Area Music Festival.
Contributed / Geneva Lewis
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BRAINERD — Lakes Area Music Festival continues its fall programming with a solo piano recital by international prize-winning pianist Evren Ozel.

The performance will start at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts in Brainerd and will feature music by J.S. Bach, Frédéric Chopin, Claude Debussy, Ludwig van Beethoven and more.

“We are pleased to present another extraordinary artist to showcase the gorgeous new Steinway grand piano at the Gichi-ziibi Center, generously donated by Dutch and Irma Cragun,” said Scott Lykins, the festival’s artistic and executive director.

Scott Lykins
Scott Lykins

The newly rebuilt piano is the flagship model D of Steinway and Sons. Ozel will be the fourth pianist presented by the festival to take advantage of the new instrument.

Ozel began his musical studies at age 3 in his hometown of Minneapolis and has since won scholarships from the U.S Chopin Foundation and Young Arts Foundation, first prize at the 2016 Boston Symphony Concerto Competition, second prize at the 2016 Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition, and second prize at the 2018 Dublin International Piano Competition.

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Most recently, he received second prize and special prizes for Best Mazurka and Best Polonaise at the 2020 U.S. National Chopin Competition, securing the honor of representing the U.S. in the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, Poland, where he was a quarterfinalist in 2021.

Ozel has performed with orchestras such as the Cleveland Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, RTE National Symphony and Boston Pops among others.

In 2018, as a freshman at New England Conservatory, Ozel won both the Honors Piano Competition and the NEC Chamber Concerto Competition, which garnered him an opportunity to play with the school’s conductor-less orchestra.

“…what a marvelous musician Ozel is, one with disarming confidence in his interpretations and a gift for smooth and engaging mood shifts,” according to the Star Tribune.

An avid chamber musician, Ozel was selected by Mitsuko Uchida to participate in the prestigious Marlboro Music Festival. There, he performed with Jonathan Biss, Alice Neary, Marcy Rosen and Joseph Lin, among others.

“Three of his performances at the festival have already been featured in the archived Historic Recordings from Marlboro,” according to a news release.

Evren Ozel solemn
Evren Ozel
Contributed / Geneva Lewis

In 2019, he participated in Chamber Fest Cleveland, featured in their Rising Star program, performing alongside artists such as Franklin Cohen, Peter Wiley and Hsin-Yun Huang.

Of his performance of Franck Sonata with Nathan Meltzer, Cleveland Classical wrote, “Meltzer and Ozel attended to every contour of the music with care, crafting a long-form melodic idea that flowed effortlessly from phrase to phrase and movement to movement. It was a privilege to witness.”

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Other summer festival experiences include the International Mendelssohn Akademie Leipzig in 2018 as a Mendelssohn Fellow, taking masterclasses with Pavel Gililov and Matti Raekallio, and the Oxford Philomusica Piano Festival in 2015, where he had masterclasses with Ferenc Rados, Menahem Pressler and Andras Schiff.

He has also been selected to perform in masterclasses for Richard Goode, Paul Lewis, Mitsuko Uchida, Garrick Ohlssohn, Robert Levin, Hugh Wolff, Lang Lang and others.

His 2022-23 season includes solo recitals for Chamber Music Detroit and the Asheville Symphony Recital Series, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Midland Symphony Orchestra, and duo recitals for Washington Performing Arts and Philadelphia Chamber Music Society with violinist Geneva Lewis.

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Lakes Area Music Festival activities are made possible by the voters on Minnesota through grants from the Five Wings Arts Council and Minnesota State Arts Board, through a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Name-your-price tickets may be reserved in advance online at https://bit.ly/3UhykGf or by calling 218-831-0765. Tickets will also be available at the door beginning 45 minutes before the performance.

The Lakes Area Music Festival is a Brainerd-based nonprofit. To find out more or to make a tax-deductible gift, visit www.lakesareamusic.org or call 218-ASK-LAMF.

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