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Newton Piano Summit

July 5 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

After steadily building for 7 years, the Summit has become one of Newton’s premier cultural events. This is your chance to see world-class talent up close entirely for free. Mark your calendars!

Hidemi Akaiwa – May 6th, 1-2pm

Fasten your seatbelts because you are likely to have never heard music like what keyboardist and composer Hidemi Akaiwa performs. Her passion is to create a new art form infusing the tenets of Japanese Zen with the sounds of jazz and microtonal contemporary classical music. At the age of 30, she shifted from a successful corporate career to focus on jazz music. She received a full scholarship to Berklee, where she took part in the college’s Global Jazz Institute, Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, Planet MicroJam Institute, and Interdisciplinary Arts Institute. These experiences have allowed her to study with world-class musicians including Danilo Pérez, Kenny Werner, Terri Lyne Carrington, Kris Davis, Billy Childs, and many others. She just returned from a tour of Guatemala with the Screaming Headless Torsos, but that’s another story! Click here to see/hear.

Kevin Harris – May 6th, 2-3pm

Having participated in the very first incarnation of the Summit, we are so pleased to have Kevin Harris and the creative volcano that he is, grace our stage again. Expect a different and unique multimedia experience with spoken word, poetry, and recorded and creative electronic sounds. Fred Hersch talks of Harris as one who “plays and writes with flair and real soul” and DownBeat Magazine writes that “Harris’ compositions deal with themes of strength, love, courage, and self-awareness. It’s a heavy task he’s set up for himself, and he meets the challenge gracefully.” Among his recurring International and national performances are venues such as the Blue Note (NYC, Beijing, Milan, and Boston), New York’s Smalls and Mezzrow, Copenhagen’s JazzHus Montmartre-Denmark, Perugia Jazz Festival-Italy, Lima Jazz Festival-Peru, Boston Wally’s Jazz Club-USA, Havana Jazz Festival-Cuba, Panama Jazz Festival – Panama, Catania Jazz-Italy, to name a few. Click here to see a performance in Israel.

Harold Charon – May 7th, 1-2 pm

Harold Charon performed at last year’s Summit and just blew the house down. His talent can only be described as genius. His schedule has become quite full but we were lucky to bring him back this year. Originally from Havana, he began piano lessons at 5 years old. Exuding musicianship decades beyond his years, he went on a Canadian tour which included the Halifax Jazz Festival and received training from  Fred Hersh, Taylor Eigsty.  His music features influences from Latin, Salsa, Jazz and Timba. Timba is a Cuban genre of music based on Cuban son with salsa, American funk/R&B, and the strong influence of Afro-Cuban folkloric music. Chucho Valdez, bandleader of Irakere is considered one of the founders of the style.


Leo Blanco – May 7th, 2-3 pm

The music of the pianist and composer pulses with global rhythmic elements influenced equally by his South American roots and European classical traditions interwoven with improvisatory developments. Blanco was born in the Venezuelan Andes where he absorbed folk music genres that were a mix of Afro-Caribbean, North American and European musical styles.  By age eleven he was a violinist in the Merida Youth Symphony Orchestra. In 1996, his interest in world music and jazz brought him to Boston’s Berklee College of Music and he later earned a Master’s Degree in Composition at New England Conservatory. In 1997 Blanco became the first Latin American to win the prestigious Boston Jazz Society Award. The next year, he received the Billboard Grant Award for his commitment, achievement and contribution to society through music. Blanco has shared the stage with major international jazz artists including Terence Blanchard, Pat Metheny, Chucho Valdez (Irakere) and Joao Bosco. He has performed at numerous festivals including the Montreux Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz FestivalNewport Jazz FestivalMonterey Jazz FestivalEdinburgh International Festival and the Latino Festival and at the Kennedy Center.  Blanco has produced and composed four albums under his name. Performance at the Kennedy Center.

Visit newtonpianosummit.org for videos of past performances and more details.

The Newton Piano Summit is supported in part by donations and grants from Advance Auto in Nonantum – providing quality service for everything automotive, the Village Bank which has a long tradition of commitment to the Garden City, Honda Village, and the Newton Cultural Council, a local agency that is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and private donors. We are still raising much needed funds, your contribution is highly appreciated.


July 5
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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Second Church in Newton
60 Highland St.
Newton, MA 02465
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