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Crystal Bridges is open Wed. through Mon. Reserve your free, timed tickets.

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Digital Van Cliburn Concert Series: Part II » Tomoko Kashiwagi, Claudia Burson, and Matt Nelson

Tune in here at 7 p.m. (CST) on December 10 to view the virtual concert!

Crystal Bridges invites you to open your browser and experience Part II of the Digital Van Cliburn Concert Series. Renowned national pianists have been paired with Northwest Arkansas talent, curating musical selections that will take you on a journey through isolation, hope, yearning, and the American Spirit from the comfort of your home. During this free, virtual piano concert, local Northwest Arkansas pianists Tomoko Kashiwagi, Claudia Burson, and Matt Nelson, will present online performances on the beautiful Van Cliburn piano in Crystal Bridges’ Great Hall. With musical selections from the Great American Songbook specially chosen for this moment of social distancing, join us for this finale performance.

This virtual concert series kicked off with pre-recorded performances by nationally acclaimed pianists, Lara Downes, Arturo O’Farrill, and Anderson & Roe Piano Duo. Watch them here.


Free, register to receive reminders about the concerts.


This Digital Van Cliburn Concert Series is presented in memory of Ellis Marsalis, Jr.

Sponsored by The Van Cliburn Concert Series Endowment Fund supported by Kelly and Marti Sudduth, Reed and Mary Ann Greenwood, Ellis and Kay Melton, Chip and Susan Chambers, and William M. Fuller Foundation. Special thanks to Tommy Smith and Steinway & Sons.

A special thanks to Robert Ginsberg and the Northwest Arkansas Jazz society for their guidance. A longtime collaborator with Crystal Bridges, the NAJS has been honored to assist as a curatorial partner in the Van Cliburn series. Information available at


About Tomoko Kashiwagi

Pianist Tomoko Kashiwagi finds great joy in playing diverse repertoire she encounters as a performer and as an educator.  Kashiwagi completed her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees as well as the Performer Diploma in Piano Performance at Indiana University where she studied with Professors Shigeo and Reiko Neriki. It did not take long for Kashiwagi to realize the importance of chamber music and ensemble playing as a musician and that she truly enjoys interacting with other musicians. She is the first recipient of the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Collaborative Piano from the University of Texas at Austin where she studied with Professor Anne Epperson.

Kashiwagi has performed in such prestigious venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Central Conservatory in Beijing, Guildhall School in London among others. She is frequently invited to be an official pianist for conferences, competitions, and festivals throughout the United States. Kashiwagi joined the faculty at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 2012. Currently Kashiwagi is the Assistant Professor of Piano and Collaborative Piano and holds the Emily J. McAllister Endowed Chair.


About Claudia Burson

Claudia Burson grew up in Fayetteville, AR. Her interest in music was sparked at an early age and she began playing piano at age eight. Classical lessons followed, along with encouragement from her uncle, Kermit Burson, who was a professional guitarist. It was a musician in her uncle’s band who first turned her on to jazz. Claudia’s musical training continued through her school years, and upon entering college she studied classical piano with Beatriz Pilapil at the University of Arkansas. In 1976, Claudia enrolled at Berklee School of Music in Boston, followed by a fruitful period of performance in Houston, TX, where she met and played with people like Don Wilkerson and Arnett Cobb to name a couple. Since returning to Fayetteville in 1998  Claudia has gained a regional following through her many performances. She anchored the house rhythm section for the North Arkansas Jazz Society’s Summer Jazz Concert Series, and was the featured artist at the Tulsa Oklahoma Women In Jazz Festival, The Walton Arts Center Jazz Series, and is the pianist with the 18-piece jazz big band, The Fayetteville Jazz Collective. Claudia’s mastery of the piano is punctuated by her soulful style and charisma. She is among the rare artists who have risen above technique to deliver her music from a place deep within. Stylistically she is equally at home with jazz standards and ballads as she is with free improvisation. Claudia teaches piano, jazz piano, and small ensembles at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.


About Matt Nelson

Prior to moving to Bentonville in 2017, Matt Nelson had established himself as one of Chicago’s most in-demand and versatile keyboardists. Matt has performed and toured in blues, jazz, and R&B bands, original rock bands, and high-end wedding and corporate bands. He has also accompanied, produced, and arranged for comedians, choirs, big bands, string groups, singers, and hip-hop artists, both live and in the studio. For over a decade, Matt lead his own jazz trio, the Matt Nelson Trio, and their album of original jazz, “Nostalgiamaniac” was critically acclaimed and received a notable four-star rating in Downbeat magazine. Matt also spent several years collaborating and touring with Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Matthew Santos and hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco. Matt has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with the likes of John Legend, Erykah Badu, Journey’s Steve Augeri, and comedian Sandra Bernhard, among others. In early 2020, Matt completed a successful run with the Trike Theatre production, A Year With Frog and Toad. Matt can also be found performing with jazz powerhouse, the Forte Quintet; arranging and playing keys for local charitable giving singalong, Beer & Hymns; performing at various events sponsored by the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra; and as an in-demand session keyboardist at Bentonville’s Haxton Road recording studio.

December 10, 2020
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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