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Classical pianist featured in Council for the Arts concert

Twenty-six-year-old Jesse Davis would rather listen to Beethoven or Mozart than rap or metal.

"I never liked that kind of music," he said. "I always had an aversion to modern popular music."

Saturday, the classical pianist from North Carolina returned to Ironton again for the second concert of the Ironton Council for the Arts' 22nd Season. Sounds of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt and Brahms filled the Mains Rotunda of Ohio University Southern.

"He's a fantastic artist who came to us last year as a substitute," ICA President Mark McCown said. "When we started bombing Afghanistan, our other pianist didn't want to fly, but he highly recommended his student."

Davis said that pianist, Fabio Bidini, was a great instructor.

"I learned a lot from him," he said. "He's world class and he shaped what I am today."

In 2001, Davis received a master of music degree from Baylor University, and received the A.J. Fletcher Scholarship, which gave him full funding to attend the North Carolina School of the Arts in 1996. During his time at NCSA, he was awarded a grant from the Semans Art Fund to study and perform at the Tibor Varga Festival in Switzerland.

Sherri McCarty, a resident of Greenup, Ky., brought her children to watch the

performance.

"They're all in piano lessons right now and I wanted them to experience something else besides me playing," she said.

"The piano is a beautiful instrument and you can play nice songs," her 11-year-old son, Jesse, said. "I never considered being a professional musician, but who knows? I might be one."

"Last year, everyone just sat amazed at his talent," Ruth Rust, an ICA board member, said. "Those who don't come tonight will be sorry."

Davis said he enjoyed his visit to Ironton.

"I come from a small town, so I'm used to the atmosphere," he said. "I've enjoyed getting to know the people here. They're wonderful."

McCown said he is also a classical music fan.

"It's one of those genres that allow intellectual stimulation through background music or one to completely delve into it," he said. "You can't do that with others that have lyrics."

"You don't have to be a connoisseur to enjoy classical music," Davis said. "When I finish performing, I want people to say, 'Hey, that's great music.'"