5×5 Five Minutes, Five Questions Jonathan Story

5×5 Five Minutes, Five Questions Jonathan Story

File Photo
Fayetteville native Jonathan Story will be “Home for the Holidays” on Dec. 14 at the Walton Arts Center.

Jonathan Story has always gotten around.

Growing up in Fayetteville, he served as accompanist for the Barbara Mashburn Scholarship Foundation, Schola Cantorum and Concert Choir at the University of Arkansas, collaborated with the North Arkansas Symphony, the UA Symphony and the Arkansas Philharmonic, served as organist for Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville for nearly 15 years and was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Fayetteville Downtown Rotary Club.

Now he’s living in Tyler, Texas, with wife Kara, a jazz singer, but he’ll be “Home for the Holidays” on Dec. 14 for a performance presented by Mike Bedford at the Walton Arts Center.

Story took a few minutes to answer these questions for The Free Weekly.

Q. What one moment stands out in your memory as the moment you knew you wanted to play the piano?

A. Two live performances that stand out in my memory as moments that made me want to excel as a pianist are the first time I heard Liszt’s Etude No. 11 as a high school student and the first time I heard Schubert’s “Wanderer” Fantasy in college. Schubert and Liszt remain favorites of mine to this day!

Q. What teacher or mentor most influenced the direction your music took?

A. University of Arkansas piano professor Jura Margulis most definitely influenced my piano playing more than anyone. He was my major professor for both my undergraduate and graduate studies. My grandfather was pianist of my home church growing up, and he was my motivation to begin playing as a child.

Q. What is your favorite music to play? And is it the same music you listen to?

A. I love to play transcriptions of orchestral and vocal works — everything from symphonies to operas to popular music. Liszt’s transcription of Schumann’s “Widmung” has been a staple of my repertoire for decades. I’ll play a knuckle busting transcription of the Nutcracker Suite at the Walton Arts Center. And this is also what I enjoy listening to.

Q. What’s new in your career since you played at the Faulkner Center in September of 2016?

A. I was featured as the pianist/organist for the “500 Voices for 500 Years” hymn festival at Carnegie Hall in June! I also played with a 100-voice choir and a full orchestra at a festival in Springfield, Mo., in September. I’m now planning a musical trip to England next summer for the Chancel Choir at my church, Marvin United Methodist Church in Tyler.

Q. What can audiences expect when you play at the Walton Arts Center?

A. I’ll play Pletnev’s legendary solo piano transcription of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. I will also collaborate with the wonderful University of Arkansas Children’s Choir and with my beautiful wife, Kara. To top it off, I’ll take requests from the audience and compose an arrangement of their favorite Christmas songs on the spot.

— Becca Martin-Brown




‘Home For The Holidays’:

Jonathan Story

WHEN — 7 p.m. Dec. 14

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $25-$30

INFO — 443-5600

BONUS — The 80-voice University of Arkansas Children’s Choir will also perform.

Categories: Music