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Folk pianist Radoslav Lorkovic at Mendelssohn

January 8, 2014
Radoslav Lorkovic

Radoslav Lorkovic

Staff Report

The Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center presents the third concert in the “Charlotte’s Web Troubadour Series” with Croatian folk pianist Radoslav Lorkovic at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, at the historic Emerson House on the Mendelssohn PAC campus, 420 N. Main St., Rockford.

Drawing from a multitude of influences ranging from elegant classical and jazz styles to the rawest, most basic blues, country and soul, Radoslav Lorkovic has taken on an unusually broad musical spectrum and refined it into his distinctive piano style. His tenure on the R&B and folk circuits has culminated in five critically-acclaimed solo recordings and numerous appearances on the recordings of and performances with artists including Odetta, Jimmy LaFave, Ribbon of Highway Woody Guthrie Tribute, Greg Brown, Richard Shindell, Ellis Paul, Ronny Cox, Dave Moore, Andy White and Bo Ramsey. His 30-year touring career has led him from the taverns of the upper Mississippi River to the castles of Italy, The Canary Islands, The Yup’ik villages of Alaska, The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall.

Born in Zagreb, Croatia, in 1958, Lorkovic’s initial exposure to music can be attributed to two grandmothers. Antonija, his maternal grandmother, sang him Croatian, Slovenian and Czech folk songs since birth. At age 1, he was reported to be singing back on pitch. By age 3, he was putting on floor shows for his grandfather and friends, who would respond by showering him with coins yelling “pivaj Radoslav pivaj!” During this time, classical music played in the home constantly because of the influence of his paternal grandmother, Melita Lorkovic, an internationally-renowned classical pianist. After this blend of central European musical influences, Radoslav moved to the United States at age 6. He had a foothold on a classical music career when at age 14, he was sidetracked by a blues scale that a friend had taught him.

After several years and countless hours of expounding on this spark, Lorkovic began touring at age 20 with Bo Ramsey and the Sliders. Lorkovic entered the band having mastered the styles of boogie-woogie greats such as Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, Freddie Slack, etc. Ramsey’s influence drove Lorkovic deeper to the core of the blues. The music of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Little Walter shifted Lorkovic’s focus to the basics as he began to draw from the styles of Otis Spann and Pinetop Perkins. Several years later, Lorkovic and Ramsey joined forces with Greg Brown adding musical authenticity to his deep Iowa roots. At this time, Lorkovic was simultaneously brushing up on his classical heritage and looking south to the polyrhythmic sounds of Professor Longhair and James Booker. He had picked up Tex-Mex and Zydeco accordion as well.

In 1990, he made his solo recording debut.

Six CDs later, Lorkovic tours the world regularly appearing at prestigious events such as the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, WOMAD, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa folk festivals, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Mountain Stage, Prairie Home Companion, eTown as well as a litany of Italian castles and villas. Join Mendelssohn for this “living room” concert: the warm environment of the acoustically and architecturally delicious Emerson House make for a magical evening, filled with song, stories and laughter. Learn more at www.radoslavlorkovic.com.

The Troubadour Series of Charlotte’s Web, a division of MPAC, features the singer/songwriter and the instrumentalist. Although duos, trios and quartets are sometimes featured, the series focuses on solo performers. Instruments on stage at the Troubadour Series will range from piano, guitar and mandolin to banjo, fiddle, bass and voice.

The focus of this series is on listening and experiencing the more subtle nuances of the intimate house concert setting that Mendelssohn’s historic Emerson House offers. The artists presented are some of the very best in their craft, and their original songs and compositions will weave an aural tapestry befitting the acoustically and architecturally beautiful Emerson House. Cookies, coffee, pop and water are available for purchase at intermission and before the concert.

Admission to the event is $15 for adults, $10 for students up to age 25. Tickets are available and may be purchased online at www.mendelssohnpac.org, by calling (815) 964-9713 or at the door. All seating is first come, first serve. Proceeds will benefit the musicians and the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center.

From the Jan. 8-14, 2014, issue

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