Pianist Frederic Chiu’s ‘Classical Smackdown’ features Prokofiev vs. Debussy


The Department of Music at SUNY New Paltz presents “Classical Smackdown,” an innovative musical experience performed by pianist Frederic Chiu. The event will be held on campus Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 8 p.m. in McKenna Theatre.

The concert will feature work from two composers, Prokofiev and Debussy, in a duel style match prompting audience participation. Songs performed include Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 3 and the brilliantly effective Toccata, with Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque and the electric L’isle Joyeuse.

Chiu, who has built a formidable reputation on his ability to update concert traditions for our time, will present pieces from both composers and juxtapose them during his live performance. Audience members will then vote online at www.classicalsmackdown.com for their favorite.

“I feel that one’s calling for art and this kind of creation and performance is not to become a specialist in that performance or art but to expand that art to a general lifestyle,” said Chiu. “I think this is something everybody should experience and […] have some involvement in.”

Chiu is a recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Petscheck Award of the Juilliard School, and was a fellow of the American Pianist Association. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Stereo Review and The New Yorker have recognized many of his CDs on the market with rave reviews.

Chiu has toured in Europe and the U.S. with the Orchestre de Bretagne and Stefan Sanderling. He has played with the Hartford Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Kansas City Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra, Estonia National Symphony, China National Symphony, the FOSJE Orquesta in Ecuador, among others.

Personalities outside the world of Classical music have created unusual collaborations with Chiu, such as the Shakespearean actor Brian Bedford and psychologist/writer/clown Howard Buten. Chiu has also worked with the hip-hop artist Socalled in the Messiaen Remix project. Currently, he is performing with David Gonzalez in the classics Peter and the Wolf and Carnival of the Animals, transcribed for solo piano and narrator.

Tickets for the “Classical Smackdown” performance are $8 general admission, $6 seniors and New Paltz faculty/staff, and $3 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the door 30 minutes prior to the concert. For additional information, visit www.newpaltz.edu/music or call (845) 257-2700.