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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

Concert Preview: Clayton Stephenson’s solo recital for the Rising Stars Series

Stephenson sits on the lip of the stage at Stetson Chapel.
Artist photo from
Clayton Stephenson at the 2022 Gilmore Piano Festival

For Clayton Stephenson, 2022 was a year of study, new experiences, and performing at the highest level he could muster. In April he made his debut as a Gilmore Young Artist at the Gilmore Piano Festival with a series of solo recitals and a concerto performance, and in June he competed in the notoriously rigorous Van Cliburn Competition. He was the only American among the six finalists, and the first Black American. Now, a month away from graduating from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a masters in music from the New England Conservatory, he’ll return to Kalamazoo at 4 pm on Sunday, Feb 5 to give a Rising Stars Series recital at the Wellspring Theatre of the Epic Center.

Stephenson spoke to Cara Lieurance about his experiences of the past year and about the music he’ll perform on his recital. It’s a wide-ranging program of Scriabin, Bach, Beethoven, Prokofiev, Gershwin and his own transcription of Art Tatum’s “Tea for Two” arrangement. In-person tickets are no longer available, but livestream tickets are available at the Gilmore Piano Festival website.

Cara Lieurance covers local music with live morning interviews, and produces WMUK's Let's Hear It weekday mornings at 10 am Mon-Fri, showcasing local interviews and performances. She also produces The Pure Drop, an hour of Celtic music, with musician Dave Marlatt.
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