Sister Cities event to feature noted pianist Kotaro Fukuma |

Sister Cities event to feature noted pianist Kotaro Fukuma

Andre Salvail/The Aspen Times

A fundraiser of sorts for the Aspen Sister Cities exchange program on Monday will feature noted pianist Kotaro Fukuma, a native of Japan who lives in Berlin but serves as a cultural ambassador for Chamonix, France.

A ski resort, Chamonix is one of Aspen’s sister cities, and local officials and students often visit it through the program. Dignitaries who plan to be on hand for the free and public event, which starts at 3 p.m. at the Aspen Chapel off Castle Creek Road, include Jeffrey Richards, an honorary French consul who lives in Denver, and Jacques Tomei, who heads the Aspen-Chamonix Sister Cities Program from the Chamonix side.

“It’s not exactly a fundraiser, though donations will be accepted,” said Francesca MacPherson, who manages the Aspen-Chamonix program from the Aspen side. “Fukuma wants to come to Aspen. He’s a well-known pianist in Europe, and he wanted to put on a concert for Sister Cities members and others who are here, even though he realizes it’s the height of the summer season and the Aspen Music Festival is under way.”

MacPherson added that Monday’s event will serve to “promote world harmony through music.”

Born in Tokyo, 30-year-old Fukuma is based out of Berlin. He started learning piano at age 5 and has received many international accolades. In 2003, Fukuma won both first prize and the Chopin Prize at the 15th Cleveland International Piano Competition.

He has performed in many major concert venues, including Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center in New York; Wigmore Hall in London; Philharmonie and Konzerthaus in Berlin; Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany; the Salle Olivier Messiaen in Paris; AuditorioNacional in Madrid; Sala Mozart in Zaragoza, Spain; and Suntory Hall and Opera City in Tokyo.

Fukumu agreed to visit Aspen during the time period between two concerts in New York, organizers of the event said. He is expected to perform compositions by Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Debussy and Albeniz.

“Mr. Fukuma is a special cultural ambassador for the Sister City program,” Richards said. “His musical performance provides people with a real connection to promote international friendship and understanding.”

Aspen Sister Cities primarily involves the exchange of middle school and high school students between Aspen and its six sisters: San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina; Chamonix; Davos, Switzerland; Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; Queenstown, New Zealand; and Shimmukappu, Japan.

Abetone, Italy, also is seeking to join the program.

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