New Orleans-born pianist to perform Chopin and more Sunday _lowres

Photo provided -- 'I love to play the Chopin Preludes because they’re 24 small pieces. ... Each one in itself is like a gem,' Peter Collins says.

Peter Collins, a New Orleans-born pianist and music professor at Missouri State University, will present a free concert on Sunday afternoon featuring selected works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Claude Debussy and Frederic Chopin at the St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Presented by the Jefferson Performing Arts Society, the recital will begin at 3 p.m. and will last approximately one hour. In the first half of the program, Collins will perform Mozart’s “Sonata in D-major” and Debussy’s 1907 composition “Images, Book 2.” The second half will feature all 24 of Chopin’s “Preludes.”

In his announcement of the concert, JPAS Artistic Director Dennis G. Assaf called Collins “a rare and gifted artist, a fiery performer and a passionate teacher.”

The two of them have worked together since the 1980s, and Collins also has accompanied Assaf’s wife, soprano Nancy Ross, on numerous recitals and recordings.

A graduate of Jesuit High School, Collins presented a program of songs by 19th-century New Orleans composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk and several Latin American composers last fall at the Historic New Orleans Collection, accompanied by vocalist Amy Pfrimmer.

Collins said, “The reason why I’m doing Mozart (at Sunday’s concert) is because I haven’t played his work for decades. … As for Debussy, he is a frequent feature in my recitals. I just love the French Impressionists.”

The Chopin “Preludes” (Opus 28) are two dozen short pieces, penned between 1835 and 1839. Collins plans to play them all.

“I love to play the Chopin ‘Preludes’ because they’re 24 small pieces, and they can be taken individually,” Collins said. “Each one in itself is like a gem, but taken together as a set, they run the whole gamut of human emotion and artistic expression. They really express so many different things. It’s almost like Chopin’s diary of his expression.”

Following graduation from Jesuit, Collins studied under renowned concert pianist Lillian Freundlich at the Peabody Conservatory of Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, where he received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees.

After winning several prestigious awards, including the American Chopin Competition, he received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan.

Since his arrival at MSU 22 years ago, Collins founded the Missouri Chamber Players and toured Europe four times with members of the ensemble in performances of music by American composers.

His research and interpretation of 19th-century New Orleans piano music led to the CD recording of “The Piano Music of Basile Bares” on Centaur Records.

Although he spends most of his time teaching at MSU in Springfield, Missouri, Collins still considers New Orleans home.

“I love to perform here because it’s home, and I really enjoy it. I actually perform here so often it’s like I never left, really. Coming back home is always something I look forward to.”