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

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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

New Year's Day Concert

New Year's Day Performer Information here.
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Gather the whole family at home and join us for a special virtual concert celebrating the new year! This special performance takes its audience into the Great Hall and the galleries of Crystal Bridges, presenting pairings of artworks from its collection and temporary exhibitions with music performed by Northwest Arkansas musicians. Each of these performances feature our Van Cliburn Concert Grand Piano as the star and are accompanied by various musicians for a variety concert experience that celebrates art and music. We are delighted to welcome the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra with NWA Ballet Theatre, the Park Na Conservatory for Violin & Cello, and the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas for three unique performances recorded in Crystal Bridges’ Great Hall. Happy New Year!

Van Cliburn Concert Series: Part I

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Performer Information: Part I

Lara Downes

Lara Downes has been called “ravishing” by Fanfare Magazine, “luscious, moody, and dreamy” by The New York Times, and “addicting” by The Huffington Post. Lara’s forays into the broad landscape of American music have created a series of acclaimed recordings, including America Again, selected by NPR as one of “10 Albums that Saved 2016”, and hailed as “a balm for a country riven by disunion” by The Boston Globe. Her recent Sony Classical debut release For Lenny debuted in the Billboard Top 20 and was awarded the 2017 Classical Recording Foundation Award.

Arturo O’Farrill

Arturo O’Farrill, pianist, composer, and educator, was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. He received his formal musical education at the Manhattan School of Music and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. Arturo’s professional career began with the Carla Bley Band and continued as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte.

Anderson & Roe Piano Duo

Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe are revolutionizing the piano duo experience for the twenty-first century. Hailed as “the most dynamic duo of this generation” by San Francisco Classical Voice, and “rock stars of the classical music world” by Miami Herald, the Anderson & Roe Piano Duo has appeared on PBS and MTV, recorded Billboard chart-topping albums, toured worldwide as recitalists and orchestral soloists, and released Emmy-nominated, self-produced music videos viewed by millions. Find out more about Anderson & Roe at, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @andersonroe.


Van Cliburn Concert Series: Part II

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Performer Information: Part II

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.

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.

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.


Performer Information: 2021 New Year’s Day Concert

Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra

The Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 2008 as the Civic Symphony of Benton County. A group of musicians and music lovers wanted to provide professional opportunities for local musicians, educational concerts for young people, and an afterschool strings program. In 2010, the name was changed to the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra (APO), and it continues to grow with Northwest Arkansas under the direction of Maestro Steven Byess.

Since the beginning, the APO has performed large masterworks and pops concerts featuring professional musicians primarily from the Northwest Arkansas region. To date, more than 46 concerts have been performed, and many world-class guest soloists have performed with the APO. With each new performance, we're able to cultivate young minds and inspire more audiences.

NWA Ballet Theatre 

NWA Ballet Theatre was founded in 2011 by Margie Bordovsky, Mariah Bordovsky, and the late Peggie Wallis.  Their purpose was to provide a quality professional ballet company so talented dancers would not have to leave the state in order to pursue their dreams, local communities would not have to drive hours away in order to see high quality dance performances, and to create a company that would garner respect and bring other artists to Northwest Arkansas. The company they established is here to provide valuable artistic opportunities and experiences to enrich the creative vitality of the region.

Park Na Conservatory for Music

“Creating a true world-class music conservatory, right here in the heart of NWA.” The Park Na Conservatory gives serious pre-collegiate string players the opportunity to learn in a conservatory-style setting, studying under the tutelage of founders Dr. Eun Seo Park and Prof. Dominic K. Na. A registered 501c3, our nonprofit is dedicated to providing the highest standard of instruction and opportunities to our gifted young musicians, without the financial burden that often accompanies this level of training. All students who are accepted into the Conservatory program, will automatically receive a full-scholarship award . Since opening our doors this summer, we have awarded over $24,000 in scholarships to area youth. The main goal of the conservatory is in fostering the advanced training of high-performing musicians, while providing a comprehensive platform of study in all areas of artistic development. Additionally, our conservatory is eager to serve area musicians of all ages who may not be musically ready or eligible for our Conservatory, but join us instead through Monthly Private Lesson, or through our audition based entry, Preparatory program.

Symphony of Northwest Arkansas

The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (SoNA) is the region’s leading professional orchestra. Under the musical direction of Maestro Paul Haas, SoNA presents dynamic and diverse symphonic performances to an audience of more than 20,000 people annually. Now in its 66th season, the non-profit has led artistic and educational programming throughout Northwest Arkansas since 1954. SoNA is a resident company of Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. Through its partnerships across the region, SoNA has also performed at the Walmart AMP, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Momentary, John Brown University, the University of Arkansas, the Bentonville Film Festival, the Fayetteville Roots Festival, area schools and libraries, and other partner locations. For more information, visit

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