Jon Hays performs during the first recital in the Juneau Piano Series, which Hays organized. Hays said the project was devised as a showcase for piano music and the Juneau Arts & Culture Center’s piano, which was purchased last year.(Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Jon Hays performs during the first recital in the Juneau Piano Series, which Hays organized. Hays said the project was devised as a showcase for piano music and the Juneau Arts & Culture Center’s piano, which was purchased last year.(Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Juneau piano series starts with performance from its organizer

More recitals to come

Jon Hays isn’t just the first performer in the Juneau Piano Series, he’s also its founder and artistic director.

Hays, who grew up in Juneau, said for about a year he worked on putting together the series of recitals that he kicked off with a performance of fantasy pieces by Beethoven, Schumann and Scriabin Friday night at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

“Since I am more or less representative to it, I thought I should start it and introduce everyone,” Hays told the Capital City Weekly over coffee before the performance. “It’s kind of a self-created pressure. I created a higher profile concert than I typically play.”

But Hays said some degree of pressure comes with nearly every recital, and the performances are typically rewarding.

“As a musician you spend 98 percent of your time practicing in a room, and a recital is a chance to show why you practice,” Hays said.

Plus, a higher profile is one of the goals of the six-recital series made possible by Arts2 and private donors. Hays said he wants to bring attention to piano music in general and the piano at the JACC in particular.

The Schimmel piano at the JACC was purchased last year for $25,000. The piano was picked by Mary Watson, who also organized the fundraising recitals that paid for it and was in attendance at Hays’ recital.

“I wanted to create a platform to use the piano,” Hays said. “I was there when it first got unboxed at the JACC. I think in Juneau, it has one of the better tones. It’s very friendly, it doesn’t take long to play well with it, and it has a huge dynamic potential.”

Hays’ performance showed off the instrument’s range with pieces that fluctuated in intensity and tempo.

The variety was intentional, Hays said, and his recital was meant to build toward a piece by Alexander Scriabin that would not be immediately familiar to many listeners.

“My program’s not the most familiar repertoire,” Hays said.

And other performers in the series, Nic Temple, Alexander Tutunov, Kyle Farley Robinson and Ioanna Nikou will likely also include some obscure pieces in their recitals.

“I’m hoping to highlight things we don’t typically have in piano recitals, which we don’t have a lot of in Juneau, anyway,” Hays said.

He’s also hopeful that the series will find a foothold in the community and receive enough support to become an annual fixture.

“I need the community to get the word out,” Hays said. “I’m hoping this Juneau Piano Series will keep going for years and years to come. For this year, I’m really hoping enough money will be raised, so there is a second year.”

More to come

Remaining performances in the piano series include Nic Temple on Nov. 16, Alexander Tutunov Jan. 18, Kyle Farley-Robinson Feb. 8, Ioanna Nikou March 22 and a group recital April 19.

All performances are scheduled for 7 p.m.


•Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at 523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @capweekly.


Jon Hays addresses the crowd in the Juneau Arts & Culture Center Friday night during his piano recital.(Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Jon Hays addresses the crowd in the Juneau Arts & Culture Center Friday night during his piano recital.(Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

More in News

Personnel from the Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska load a front-end loader aboard the vessel Frontrunner for transit to Haines to provide relief and assistance in recovery efforts in Haines following catastrophic rainfall-fueled landslides, Dec. 3, 2020. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
State, local organizations respond to Haines disaster

Everyone from SAR specialists to tribal organizations to uniformed services are helping out.

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Friday, Dec. 4, 2020

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Thursday, Dec. 3

The most recent state and local numbers.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Wednesday, Dec. 2

The most recent state and local numbers.

Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, speaks during the House Finance Committee meeting as they work on SB 128, the Permanent Fund spending bill, in the Bill Ray Center in 2016. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Razor-thin state House race gets a recount

Recount starts Friday morning.

Gordon Chew uses a GoPro on a pole to assess the humpback entanglement while Steve Lewis carefully negotiates the full circumference of the whale. (Courtesy photo / Rachel Myron)
‘Small town’ residents rescue big animal

Nearly 20 people braved choppy seas and foul weather to free the snared whale

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Tuesday, Dec. 1

The most recent state and local numbers.

Most Read