Rawlins Duo to perform at USD

Rawlins Duo to perform at USD Pianist Susan Keith Gray and violinist John Thomson of the nationally acclaimed Rawlins Piano Trio of The University of South Dakota will perform at 8 p.m. on March 25 in Colton Recital Hall of the Warren M. Center for the Fine Arts on The University of South Dakota campus.

The concert is open to the public free of charge. The third member of the Rawlins Piano Trio, cellist Richard Rognstad, is continuing his research specialty of American music while on sabbatical during spring 2004 semester. His expertise has provided much of the unique programming of the Trio's concerts and CDs.

This concert by the Rawlins "Duo" is part of the Scandinavia and the Americas Symposium of the College of Fine Arts. The concert will feature Norwegian music for violin and piano including composers Edvard Grieg, Ole Bull, and Sverre Eftestol. A special feature of the concert will be Norwegian Folk Dances played on the national instrument of Norway, the Hardingfele (Hardanger Fiddle) and some transcriptions of the same pieces for solo piano by Grieg. In addition, Dr. Gray will perform the U.S. premiere of Lux for solo piano by Norwegian composer, Sverre Eftestol. Dr. Gray met Eftestol in 2002 while performing in Norway.

Pianist Susan Keith Gray is acclaimed as a specialist in collaborative playing and has performed in recital with a number of artists throughout the United States and abroad. She has served on the Instrumental Accompanying Faculty at the Music Academy of the West and on the staff of national music competitions.

As a member of the Kobayashi/Gray Duo (violin/piano), she has toured South America and the West Indies as a United States Artistic Ambassador and in Norway and South Africa. Gray has actively recorded and appears on CD recordings of music by women for violin and piano, songs of African-American composers and two CDs of American works with the Rawlins Piano Trio.

Awards include prizes in the Music Teachers National Association Wurlitzer Collegiate Artist Competition, and solo appearances with the Spartanburg and Savannah Symphony Orchestras. A member of the faculty at The University of South Dakota since 1995, Gray is in demand as pianist, teacher, adjudicator and clinician throughout the Midwest region and is currently president of the South Dakota Music Teachers Association.

Violinist John Thomson was born in England and moved to New Zealand at an early age. He came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar and a recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship.

Since then he has worked in various capacities with music: as a soloist and recitalist, concertmaster of several orchestras, actor in various movies, and collaborator with such diverse musicians from pianist Van Cliburn to singer Frank Sinatra. Critics have praised his "brilliant technique and appealing cantabile" and called his playing a "rare treat."

Violinist Franco Gulli praised his "remarkable facility in performing the music of Paganini."

Thomson has gained a reputation as an authority on the Norwegian violinist Ole Bull, and has published arrangements of Bull's music. He was also called upon to act as a consultant for the restoration of the statue of Ole Bull in Minneapolis in 2000.

Thomson also conducts, and is the music director of the Sioux Empire Youth Orchestra. He was recently mentioned in "Who's Who in America's Teachers."

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