(Clayton, NC) – The 4th Annual Clayton Piano Festival is scheduled for September 29 - October 10 at The Clayton Center Auditorium in Historic Downtown Clayton, with additional workshops held at area schools. This year's festival will kick-off with a collaboration with the Ava Gardner Festival, featuring iconic classical music from movies starring local star, Ava Gardner.

Hometown classical musician, Jonathan Levin, who performed his first recital at this venue, started the festival in 2010 to give back to the community where he was raised. "As many may know, I grew up in the Clayton area and it was here that my musical education began as well," stated Levin. "Clayton Piano Festival (CPF) is my way of giving back to a community which gave much to me and to share my love and enthusiasm for great music with as many people as possible."

On Saturday, October 4th, WRAL news reporter and emcee Brian Mims, will lead the conversation about the piano pieces beginning at 7pm. Following the concert there will be a coffee and dessert reception to meet the featured pianist Azamat Sydykov. Sydakov, who recently performed at Carnegie Hall, was born into a musical family in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyz Republic, a former Republic of the Soviet Union and now resides in Kazakhstan. A Member of the International Academy of Creative Endeavors (Moscow, 2009), Sydykov has been the recipient of many awards and prizes including First Prize in five national music competitions in Kyrgyz Republic, First Prize at the “Musician of the 21st Century” International Piano Competition in Kazakhstan and the Grand Prize at the “EUTERPE” International Piano Competition in Italy in 2009.

This concert collaboration between the Clayton Piano Festival and the Ava Gardner Museum will interest fans and visitors coming to the Ava Gardner Festival which runs the entire weekend. Fans of movies and fans of Ava's can enjoy a touch of artistry from her life. During the hour long performance, the interlude featuring Ava Gardner will showcase songs from Show Boat and Ava's live-long fascination with flamenco music. Tickets for the Saturday night concert are $20.00+ taxes and fees, and are available for purchase online August 6, www.theclaytoncenter.com or by calling the Box Office, 919-553-3152.

It is the mission of CPF to bring outstanding concert pianists from throughout the country to the Clayton area in order to perform concerts and participate in other musically enriching events throughout the community. Through interactive presentations in local schools, public classes for local piano students, and commentary with the concert performances, CPF aims to bridge the gap between performer and audience, bringing great music to people of all ages and levels of exposure to classical music and the arts.

Also on Saturday, the museum has partnered with the Clayton Piano Festival whose theme this year is classical music from the movies. Festival organizers are working with renowned artist and Clayton native, Jonathan Levin to pay tribute to Ava Gardner with a song from Show Boat and a selection of other musical influences in Ava's movies. The Clayton Piano Festival will be held at The Clayton Center and begins at 7pm. Coffee and desserts will be served after the concert with a meet and greet with Azamat Sydakov, the featured pianist. Tickets are $20.00 per person plus taxes and fees, and are available online at www.theclaytoncenter.com on August 6th.

The Clayton Piano Festival is supported by grants, donations, and tickets sales. Concerts are general seating admission with some reserved seats for Ava Gardner Festival sponsors on October 4. More information can be found on their website, www.claytonpianofestival.org or Ava Gardner Festival on www.avagardner.org.

The Clayton Piano Festival list of performances and seminars, times and ticket info:

  • Sept. 29 – Oct. 3 Educational Outreach Performances at local elementary schools.
  • Oct. 4 "Movie Tunes: Iconic classical music from the movies." - The Clayton Center, Azamat Sydykov, 7pm. Tickets $20
  • Oct. 5 "Sanctuary: the inspiration of the church on western music." - The Clayton Center, Jonathan Levin, 3pm. Tickets $12/$8
  • Oct. 7 "In Her Shoes: A celebration of women composers." - The Wagner House, Clayton, Julia Mortyakova, 7pm. Tickets $20
  • Oct. 8-10 Young Artist Seminar – classes and events for local piano students. (location and Schedule TBD)
  • Oct. 10 "From Brooklyn to Havana: classical music with a popular twist." The Clayton Center, Milton Laufer, 7pm. Tickets $12/$8