Artistic Director Daniel Suk and the Dream Orchestra present Akira Nakano in concert on Saturday, Sept. 28, at 8 p.m. at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.

Akira Nakano

The program will consist of “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” by Sergei Rachmaninov and Franz Liszt’s “Totentanz.”

The program will also feature two original works by Nakano, a suite from “The Norwood Affair” and the world premiere of “A Concerto in Crayon.” “Norwood” was originally written as a film score for a 13-piece orchestra and has been re-orchestrated with a touch of new material to hold together in a concert setting. “A Concerto in Crayon” tells the story of Nakano’s nephew who loves to draw and takes us on a journey of pirates, arrows, volcanos and dragons through the eyes of a 7-year-old.

It is really no surprise that “Totentanz” and “Rhapsody on a Theme” are being paired together on this program.  Both pieces feature variations on the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) hymm, the Gregorian chant used widely by classical composers such as Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, Stravinsky, Liszt and Rachmaninov. Furthermore, Liszt had once heard violinist Niccolo Paganini perform and was inspired to become “as good a pianist as Paganini was a violinist.”  Rachmaninov, basing his “Rhapsody” on the 24th of Paganini’s “Caprices” for solo violin, ties these works even closer together.

Suk began his music career as a pianist, but his plans quickly changed when he was accepted to the National Music Conservatory of Mantova, Italy as a voice major. While there, he began his conducting career as an assistant conductor for operatic productions and directed the Mantova Conservatory Chamber Orchestra. 

Nakano is a product of the Colburn School of Performing Arts in both piano and percussion, soloing with numerous orchestras throughout Southern California as a youth.  He was the winner of the first annual Herbert Zipper Award in Music Composition, among other piano competitions. Entering UCLA on a full-ride piano performance scholarship, he won the UCLA Concerto Competition and left with a film degree.

After a number of years working as a corporate video editor/producer — writing, directing and scoring several independent films along the way — he wrote and produced a play, “A Concerto for Claire,” which premiered at Colburn in 2002. He was the music director and on-stage pianist for Lodestone Theatre Ensemble’s “Closer Than Ever” (L.A. Times Critics’ Choice) in 2009.

Nakano resumed classical piano full-time in 2010, returning to the Zipper Hall stage after a 10-year absence in March 2012. He is thrilled to be pairing with the Dream Orchestra and its artistic director.

The Dream Orchestra is composed of top musicians from all over the world who reside in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Its mission is to educate young people and the larger community through more accessible and affordable classical music events.

“We believe classical music can be a part of everyone’s life regardless of their cultural, education and financial background,” said Suk. “We believe classical music can change people’s lives. Also, we will not only present world-famous musicians but our future generations and emerging stars of tomorrow.”

All proceeds from the concert benefit the Dream Orchestra Youth Performance & Music Education Fund.

Tickets are $30 general, $20 for students with valid ID, $225 for groups of 10 or more, and $100 for premium reserved ($75 tax-deductible). To reserve tickets online, go to or

A reception for family and friends will immediately follow at Oiwake Restaurant in Japanese Village Plaza.

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