For all the talk about Austin’s music scene, comparatively little is mentioned about our classical music talent. Yet, Austin’s classical community is not only alive and well, it makes up an integral part of Austin’s culture.

Anton Nel, Austin’s renowned concert pianist, presented a beautiful solo concert at Austin’s Long Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday afternoon, January 29, 2017.

Called “…an uncommonly elegant pianist” by the New York Times, Nel is a Steinway artist with an active repertoire of over 100 works for piano and orchestra. Nel’s career is an illustrious one with appearances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, as well as many international performances. From winning first prize in numerous prestigious competitions, including the Naumburg International Piano Competition and the Leeds International Piano Competition, to performances with top symphonies, including the Chicago, San Francisco, and London symphonies, he has spent almost four decades as a concert pianist. In the midst of his performing career, he somehow found the time to pursue an additional career as a university educator, and he is currently the head of the Division of Keyboard Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Anton Nel playing Chopin in 1986 at 23 years old.

Sunday’s recital featured two new works to Nel’s repertoire – Claude Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque (containing the ever-popular Claire de lune) and Meditation sur un motif de Claude Debussy by Zoltan Kodaly. He also performed Robert Schumann’s Faschingsschwank aus Wien, a work he has brought back to his public performances for the first time in 20 years. An acclaimed Beethoven interpreter, he ended his recital with Beethoven’s Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53, commonly known as the Waldstein. The repertoire chosen made for an excellent program that was entertaining and accessible to the casual listener, the serious pianist, and everyone in between.

Nel hadn’t played a solo recital at the Long Center since 2013, and it was clear from the full and enthusiastic audience that his return was worth the wait. A standing ovation at the end of the Waldstein led to an encore, which led to another standing ovation, which led to another encore, and another standing ovation, and yet another encore. If you were counting, that’s three encores. The audience loved him, and he was happy to keep giving us more.

Nel’s upcoming schedule includes performances in Dallas, Boston, Mexico, and Canada, as well as masterclasses at the Manhattan School of Music. His next Austin performance will be a chamber music concert in Bates Recital Hall on the University of Texas campus on April 6th.

– Submitted by Erin Yousef, Music Design