Pianist Hando Nahkur, First Recipient of Meadows' Artist Diploma, Releases New CD on the ERP Label

Several selections on "Waltzing Mephisto by the Danube" recorded in Meadows' Caruth Auditorium

SMU Meadows alumnus and international pianist Hando Nahkur has the attention of the classical music press. Germany’s PianoNews calls him “fascinating,” saying his performance “… can rightfully hold its own even against the legendary pianists Wilhelm Kempff or Martha Argerich.” Italy’s Il Gazzettino lauds him as having “amazing pianistic maturity,” that entrances audiences “from the first measures played … his forte made the piano tremble, his pianissimo was like a musical caress.”

Reasons for such praise are evident on Nahkur’s latest CD, Waltzing Mephisto by the Danube (ERP 2015), as he interprets classical piano works by Robert Schumann, Vincenzo Bellini, Franz Liszt, Heino Eller and Johann Strauss/Adolf Schulz-Evler. Several pieces were recorded in Caruth Auditorium at SMU Meadows School of the Arts over the past two years while Nahkur was a graduate student. He earned his Performer’s Diploma from Meadows in 2013, and in 2015, he became the first student to earn Meadows’ Artist Diploma, an advanced graduate degree established in 2009 for those on the threshold of a professional performance career. While at Meadows, Nahkur studied with international pianist, Joel Estes Tate Chair and Professor Joaquín Achúcarro.

“No words can express how much I have learned and developed both as a pianist and person throughout the years at SMU,” says Nahkur. “I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to study for so many years with the world-renowned pianist and professor Joaquín Achúcarro. I could write thousands of pages about how much I learned from him. His teaching simply was wonderful in every aspect.”

In all, Nahkur holds five degrees from four universities: Yale School of Music; New England Conservatory of Music; Texas Christian University School of Music; and SMU Meadows School of the Arts. In addition, he has won several top prizes in international piano competitions.

Born in Tallinn, Estonia, Nahkur made his debut at age 16 with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. Over the years, he has performed in numerous major concert halls in the U.S., from New York to San Francisco, and abroad, including engagements in Amsterdam; Greece; Switzerland; Italy; The Netherlands; Mexico; Canada; and Costa Rica, among other locales.

Previous ERP recordings by Nahkur include Deus Ex Clavier, named Record of the Year in 2010 by Zeit Online, Germany’s largest weekly newspaper. The paper cited Nahkur as “one of the greatest new surprises of the classical music scene …” and said “… with this CD he establishes himself amongst the greatest pianists.”

When not concertizing, Nahkur makes his home in Dallas, where he is the music director for Christ Lutheran Church.

Photo by Kaupo Kikkas

Cover art by Mark Kostabi

Read more about Hando Nahkur; SMU Meadows graduate studies, Performer’s Diploma and Artist Diploma; and ERP (Estonian Record Productions).