UCO fundraiser features unique pianist Valery Kuleshov

The University of Central Oklahoma College of Fine Arts and Design will present its signature fundraising event Toast to the Maestro, featuring the talents of Central Artist in Residence and world renowned pianist Valery Kuleshov, Thursday at the UCO Jazz Lab.

Kuleshov’s performances are based on Russian piano traditions.

“Having seen Valery perform a number of times, I am still captivated by the way he brings music to life with such skill and passion,” said Deborah Baucom, development manager for the UCO College of Fine Arts and Design. “Our Toast the Maestro event is intimate when compared to concerts in a large performance hall, with patrons seated near enough to watch Valery’s hands closely. The entire time he plays, the audience is completely enthralled.”

Kuleshov became the Artist in Residence for the UCO School of Music in 2000, and in 2013, he declared Edmond his home.

Kuleshov was born in Chelyabinsk, Russia, near what is now Kazakhstan. Teachers soon noticed his talent, and by age 7 he had left home to enter the prestigious Central Music School at the Moscow Conservatory. He has toured the globe, performing in some of the world’s best concert halls including New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Milan Conservatory in Italy and the Great Halls of the Moscow Conservatory and St. Petersburg Philharmonic.

“Valery is truly a virtuoso pianist and his solo performance is sure to encapsulate and move the audience,” said Blair Quiring, project coordinator for the UCO College of Fine Arts and Design.

Kuleshov’s performances have been compared to the style of Vladimir Horowitz. He is influenced by the Romantic music of Schumann, Liszt, Chopin, Brahms and Rachmaninoff. However, Kuleshov’s own style and talent distinguish him from other contemporaries.

Included in the evening’s events will be a silent auction with items provided by Boulevard Steakhouse, Edmond Music, Lyric Theatre, Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City Ballet, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, UCO’s Musical Theatre Division and several others.

“This special event is known for its pairing of elegant food and wine with a musical program that showcases the talents of our students, faculty and Artist in Residence,” Quiring said. “These auction items and packages are perfect for gifts, date nights, a family night out and membership opportunities within the arts community.”

Toast the Maestro is considered a signature fundraising event for UCO’s School of Music, with proceeds benefiting the All-Steinway School Initiative. All ticket and silent auction proceeds will be used to underwrite Steinway Pianos for the students and faculty within the School of Music. At this year’s event, UCO also will debut a new Steinway piano purchased with funds raised at last year’s event.

The evening will include performances by UCO music students and faculty. The faculty/staff Trio Antiqua — violinist Theodora Morris, violist Ralph Morris and cellist Thresa Swadley — will take the stage as well as Central piano students Buyun Li and Ziyun Li.

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