MARSHALL - Back in the 1800s, composer Franz Liszt was like Elvis or Tom Jones. Kind of like one of the first rock stars, said Southwest Minnesota Orchestra director Dr. Daniel Rieppel.
The Southwest Minnesota Orchestra is performing a festival of Liszt's music at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Schwan Community Center for the Performing Arts
Ksenia Nosikova is one of the featured performers in the last concert of the 2010-2011 season of the SMO. She has performed as a solo pianist and chamber musician in Europe, Asia, South America and the United States. She has also been part of 70 guest artists series at American universities. She has recorded several CDs, including "Years of Pilgrimage" by Liszt. She has been featured on several live radio and television programs. Her performances have been described as "refined sensibility and exquisite pianism, fascinating to watch and hear" by the Boston Globe.
Rieppel has gotten to know Nosikova and become friends with her, saying she's a "lovely person and a major pianist."
"I taught with her for several summers at the Artist World Festival, which is now in St. Paul," Rieppel said. "She is a dynamic performer."
Rieppel said Nosikova studied at the Moscow Conservatory and finished her doctoral work in the United States. Some of the students she had at the Artist World Festival are now at the University of Iowa where she is an artist-in-residence and professor. Nosikova is also a noted Liszt performer, Rieppel added, and is president of the Midwest chapter of the Liszt Society.
"We're happy to have her in the Midwest," Rieppel said.
In keeping with a run of anniversaries of well-known composers since 2006, the SMO is paying homage to Liszt on the 200th anniversary of his birth. Rieppel said Liszt had an interesting reputation.
"Liszt is kind of the quintessential romantic composer," Liszt said. "He was really the first rock star." Rieppel said women tore Liszt's clothes off at performances and he would throw rings into the audience.
Rieppel said Liszt also invented the piano recital where he would be the only musician featured at a performance - "Le concert c'est moi" (The concert is me).
Nosikova begins and ends the upcoming concert. The first piece she will do is a transcription of a Liszt piece by Beethoven titled "Ruins of Athens." The concert ends with Liszt's diabolical piece "Totentanze." Rieppel said the last time that was performed at SMSU, he was in his second year of teaching. The concert was called "Halloween Music to Die For."
Another notable piece in the concert, Rieppel said, is a Liszt concerto by Rieppel's piano student, Tetsuro Nagase. Rieppel will also perform a solo piece as well, and said there will be a guest conductor for the concert.