Jean-Yves Thibaudet, one of world's best-known, best dressed pianists, joins Grand Rapids Symphony, Oct. 5-6

One of the world’s most famous pianists, Jean-Yves Thibaudet’s concert seasons are filled with appearances with important orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic and collaborations with such major artists as Renee Fleming and Sarah Chang.

The French-born pianist has been a soloist on many film soundtracks such as the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly.

Thibaudet also is one of world’s best-dressed concert artists, thanks to the couture of Vivienne Westwood.

Come to the Grand Rapids Symphony on Friday and Saturday Oct. 5-6 and see what Jean-Yves is wearing when he performs Aram Khachaturian Piano Concerto with the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Music Director Marcelo Lehninger welcomes his old friend to Grand Rapids for concerts that also include Rimsky-Korsakov’s sultry Scheherazade.

Tickets start at just $18 adults, $15 students. Call (616) 454-9451 for tickets or go online to

Khachaturian’s folk music-flavored Piano Concerto pits pianist against orchestra in an epic musical battle in the crowd-pleasing work that includes the unusual appearance of a musical saw.

In September, Thibaudet performed the seldom-heard Khachaturian Piano Concerto with the Seattle Symphony. Afterward, the Seattle Times praised the performance as a “high-intensity, impeccably phrased reading from Thibaudet, who was utterly in command from the tips of his fantastic fingers to his glittery shoes.

Jean-Yves Thibaudet says he’s loved fashion since “I was a little boy.”

“I met a lot of designers when I was a teenager, went to a lot of shows — and fashion became a part of my life,” he said to Houston Culture Map for an article titled “The Frenchman in Red Socks” in 2012.

“I think that fashion is also important because of how classical music is viewed as rigid and old fashioned,” he said. “Why is it that men are relegated to wearing tails, which are more than 300 years old, and ladies can wear dramatic gowns and have costume changes at every break? And why would I have to look like a stupid penguin because that's how things are? That's just ridiculous.”

“Rigid clothes just give the wrong impression of classical music, dusty, old and boring,” he said. “People can relate to you more in clothes that they can identify with.” Thibaudet has more to say in a TV interview in 2015 in Boston.

Winner of the Lyons Conservatory Gold Medal in 1974 at age 12, Thibaudet entered the Paris Conservatory as a teenager.  Three years later, he won the premier Prix du Conservatoire, and at age 18 won the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York City.

He’s recorded more than 50 albums including operatic transcriptions for solo piano by Franz Liszt and Ferruccio Busoni and jazz arrangements and transcriptions of improvisations by Bill Evans and Duke Ellington.

A Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France, the country’s highest honor for artists, he was elevated to the grade of Officer in 2012. In 2010, the Los Angeles resident was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.

A familiar face on the Hollywood scene, Thibaudet has appeared as a featured soloist in films including The Portrait of a Lady, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Wakefield and Atonement. Here are segments for Dawn and for Your Hands Are Cold from Pride and Prejudice.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, inspired by tales from The Arabian Nights or The 1,001 Nights, tells the story of the Sultan and Scheherazade, the daughter of the Sultan’s Vizier. Convinced that all women are false and faithless, the Sultan vows to put to death each of his wives after their wedding night. But when But Scheherazade ends their wedding night by telling the Sultan a fantastic story that she lives unfinished.

Curious, the Sultan postpones her execution to hear the rest of the story. That goes one for 1,001 nights until the Sultan falls completely in love with Scheherazade and abandons his original plan.

The colorful score, with an oriental flavor, enchanting orchestral colors, and captivating melodies, feature solo violin as Scheherazade. The Grand Rapids Symphony’s performance will feature Concertmaster and violinist Jamie Crawford as well as principal harpist Elizabeth Wooster Colpean.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite is popular among ice skaters. The American ice dancing team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White skated to music from Scheherazade in the final round of the 2014 Winter Olympics leading to the Gold Medal, the first ever for the United States in ice dancing.

Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at 11:00 AM
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