Cape Cod Symphony Starts its Season by 'Playing with Fire'

The Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra's opening concert, a tribute to Van Cliburn and others, has been described as "the perfect starting point for a monumental season."

That concert, called "Playing With Fire," will be held at 8 PM on Saturday, September 21, and 3 PM on Sunday, September 22, at the Barnstable Performing Arts Center in Hyannis.

Those who go can see and hear for themselves why pianist Jon Nakamatsu won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1997 when he joins the symphony to perform Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3—the same piece he played for the competition. That winning performance transformed his life from high school German teacher to classical pianist.

The program also includes "the granddaddy of science fiction music": Gustav Holst's "The Planets." That performance will include two new movements—Pluto and Apollo—both composed by Brett Abigaña. This nine-movement orchestral suite, the orchestra says, promises to "bring the outer galaxy down to Earth with fierce battles and exciting triumphs," all without leaving the auditorium.

On Friday, September 20, the public can also make arrangements to join CCSO's artistic director and conductor Jung-Ho Pak, along with Mr. Nakamatsu and Mr. Abigaña, for an informal, but informative, lunch at Alberto's Ristorante in Hyannis at noon. Mr. Pak will chat with the guest artists and delve deeper into the music, the performers and the history of Van Cliburn.

The cost of the luncheon is $35, $30 for symphony guild members. Reservations can be made by calling 774-470-2282, extension 110, or e-mailing

Later that same day, Mr. Nakamatsu will use his technical mastery and teaching experience to provide a rare opportunity for young musicians. Previously selected students will get the opportunity to play up to three pieces for him, gaining his feedback and suggestions for how to perform better. These one-on-one lessons are open to the public and begin at 3:30 PM on September 20 at the West Barnstable campus of the Cape Cod Conservatory.


Those with tickets to the concert will find that the music is enhanced by understanding how the composer was feeling when he wrote it or how the music was received when it premiered. A pre-concert talk with the symphony's John Clark, joined by Mr. Nakamatsu, will begin one hour prior to the start of each performance.

Concert tickets, which range from $27 to $66 for adults, can be purchased online at or in person at the CCSO Box Office, 1060 Falmouth Road, Suite A, Hyannis, Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM. People can also call the box office at 508-362-1111.


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