Renowned pianist and conductor João Carlos Martins to celebrate 60th anniversary of Carnegie Hall debut next week

João Carlos Martins
João Carlos Martins
Photo courtesy of W O R K H O U S E

Celebrated Brazilian pianist and conductor João Carlos Martins is celebrating the 60th anniversary of his Carnegie Hall debut with a return to Carnegie Hall, thanks to bionic extender gloves that enable him to play piano for the first time in two decades.

The João Carlos Martins Concert takes place on Nov. 19 and includes two Brandenburg Concertos, one Aria from Bach, and two Brazilian composers, Villa-Lobos and André Mehmari. 

Martins is considered one of the greatest interpreters of Bach of the 20th century. He made his formal debut at 18 at the Casals Music Festival in Puerto Rico. After this, International attention grew and in 1961 Martins made his U.S. debut in Washington DC with Bach’s 48 Preludes and Fugues from the “Well-Tempered Clavier,” a work that became one of his specialties. 

Martins then made his iconic debut at Carnegie Hall in 1962, sponsored by Eleanor Roosevelt. In the same year as his debut, Martins appeared with major orchestras, played Bach recitals worldwide, and made recordings. The Boston Globe characterized him as “The most exciting player of Bach on the modern piano to emerge since Glenn Gould.” 

His highly anticipated return is not only a monumental moment in music, but an ode to his resilience. After neurological difficulties caused Martin to take time away from his recording and performing for prolonged treatment, he was violently attacked in 1995 while recording in Bulgaria and left with only limited use of his hands, and he has not been able to play since. However, a pair of bionic extender gloves designed for him by industrial designer Ubiratan Bizarro Costa gave Martins the ability to play the piano for the first time in two decades. 

He will lead NOVUS NY in a João Carlos Martins Concert, with a program focusing on the music of Bach, the late pioneering 20th century Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos, and André Mehmari, one of the most sought-after composers in Brazil. 

The concert begins with two of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos: No. 3 in D major and No. 1 in F Major, followed by his Cantata BWV 147, Jesus, Joy of Man’s Desiring, arranged for chamber orchestra by Heitor Fujiname.The second half of the evening shifts to Brazil, Martins and the Novus NY will perform the Preludio from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4 inspired by Bach. The evening ends with André Mehmari’s Portais Brasileiros nº 2  (Cirandas), a Fantasy Suite inspired by Brazilian traditions. 

Tickets for the performance, priced at $75/ $50/$30 and $10 for students, will be available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 57th Street, and Seventh Avenue, beginning Jun. 22 by calling CarnegieCharge at +1 212-247-7800 or carnegiehall.org.  

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