Pianist Min Kwon’s America/Beautiful Project Comes to Kent State University on March 20

click to enlarge Min Kwon - Gail Hadani
Gail Hadani
Min Kwon
Later this month, the Kent Keyboard Series will present Min Kwon’s America/Beautiful project, a collaboration for which 75 American composers wrote variations on “America the Beautiful.” Kwon will present a selection of the variations at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, in Kent State University’s Ludwig Recital Hall. This will be Kwon’s only Ohio performance of the internationally touring program.

The America/Beautiful project was Kwon’s response to the COVID 19 pandemic, working to do something “positive and uplifting” in face of feelings of paralysis and powerlessness. It reimagines the quintessential patriotic piece with influence from a multitude of styles, drawing on ragtime, jazz, tango, Persian, Syrian, Indian, Jewish, and other musical genres and styles to "form a unique collection of compositions reflective of the diversity of America."

“I wanted [my daughters] to be able to look back on this time, and not just read about what happened in the White House, or what happened in Minneapolis, or what happened in the courtrooms or in hospital beds,” says Kwon in a July 2021 CNet interview. “I wanted them to see this, this amazing compendium of American creativity that is so rich in diversity.”

Kwon’s stop in Ohio is the result of her connection to Kent State faculty member Donna Lee. Both were in the same master’s program at Juilliard.

“Donna was such a lovely human being, friend and colleague,” says Kwon in a press release. “So decades later, when I was planning a tour to introduce my project America/Beautiful and with whom I wanted to share it first, I thought of Donna and her fine reputation as a teacher and mentor to many young pianists at Kent.”

Part of the trip includes a masterclass featuring Kent State piano students working with Kwon. That masterclass, which takes place from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, March 21 in Ludwig Recital Hall, will be open to the public.

Advance single-ticket and subscription orders for Min Kwon's performance at Kent State University can be made online, by phone or in person through the Performing Arts Box Office that's open Monday through Friday from 12 to 5 p.m. in the Kent State University Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets will also be available one hour before the performance begins.