The Concerts at Jewett series will continue this month with a show at the Jewett Hall Auditorium on the University of Maine at Augusta campus at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12. A pre-concert talk will begin at 1 p.m. For more information, visit concertsatjewett.com or call 621-3551.

The featured performer will be classical pianist George Lopez, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and raised in Belize by Mayan parents. The pianist has been featured around the world as a recitalist and soloist with orchestras, and he’s received critical acclaim for his interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. He is — officially, as of right now — a visiting Artist-In-Residence at Bowdoin College and is completing his second year of a two-year contract. He has hopes of staying on there in Brunswick for an additional stint as an Artist-In-Residence. Lopez was recently contacted by phone to chat about his upcoming concert.

Q: Am I’m calling you on the road?

Lopez: Yes, that’s right; I’m about 20, 25 minutes from home.

Q: Were you performing in a concert?

Lopez: No, I have a church gig in New Hampshire that I kept from my time living there — every Sunday morning I schlep over there and play the organ and conduct the choir.

Q: Did I hear that you have performed at Jewett Hall before?

Lopez: I played Jewett Hall last year as the pianist for Suzanne Nance.

Q: She’s the host of MPBN’s morning classical show weekdays, right?

Lopez: That’s right — that’s what she does. She’s a very entertaining singer, as well.

Q: What kind of program will you present at the concert?

Lopez: Well, it’s going to be a program of the Americas. There are three composers from the United States and South America. Heitor Villa-Lobos was a Brazilian classical composer of the 20th Century. He came to the U.S. and many of his works were played by the New York Philharmonic. There will also be works by Ginastera — an Argentinean composer — who was a bit younger than Villa-Lobos. So, I’m going to play works by both of those South American composers as well as the great George Gershwin. I suppose one could say the highlight of the concert will be the “Rhapsody In Blue.”

Q: What do your duties at Bowdoin College entail?

Lopez: One of the wonderful parts is that I get to play several concerts throughout the year, so one of my primary responsibilities is to perform — not only here but elsewhere. I travel all over the United States and Europe. This last year included Switzerland and Italy, and in the U.S. — Missouri, Colorado, Texas, New York, Florida and, of course, all over New England. I also teach a small class of six advanced students at the college and then I coach chamber music, as well.

Q: It sounds like you have a very varied job there at Bowdoin … I would imagine that that helps keep your interest and excitement levels up — all those different jobs keep you from burning out.

Lopez: That’s right, it does … and I couldn’t imagine a better job for myself.

Q: Is there anything you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this “What’s Happening” article about your up-coming UMA show at Jewett Hall?

Lopez: Yes. Regarding the program, it’s a very exciting and accessible program which includes works that no one has heard before but that audiences in other parts of the world have really enjoyed … to the point of going out and even getting CDs of some of the composers, especially Villa-Lobos.

Lucky Clark has spent over four decades writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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