Musical Performance Philosophy from the James Conlon “Encore” Series

James Conlon

James Conlon

There are few things that will shut me up as quickly as a classical pianist or conductor talking about the music or humanity of it. In the six episodes of the Encore! with James Conlon series created in 2005 from the Twelfth International Van Cliburn Piano Competition, Maestro James Conlon explores the relationship between the concert pianist’s internal world and the composer’s score with the finalists as his examples. The series premiered on PBS in October 2005 and also featured chamber performances with the Grammy Award-winning Takács Quartet. Eminent pianist and competition juror Menahem Pressler also had a prominent role. He had a beautiful clip talking about playing Beethoven piano sonatas to one of the younger competitors in the 2005 documentary of the competition, In the Heart of Music.

Below are clips from each of the six episodes of the Encore! series, which I will have to see in full one day! Encore! with James Conlon was directed by Andy Sommer and co-produced by Bel Air Media, the Van Cliburn Foundation, and KERA.

But that’s enough of me! I’m going to shut up and listen now! 🙂



Episode 1: Apollo or Dionyssus (with Davide Cabassi)


Episode 2: Plato or Aristotle (with Alexander Kobrin)


Episode 3: Being It or Playing It (with Joyce Yang)


Episode 4: Truth or Beauty (with Chu-Fang Huang)


Episode 5: Technique or Spirit (with Roberto Plano, pianist)


Episode 6: Tradition or Innovation (with Sa Chen)

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