Symphony of Oak Park-River Forest’s next concert is Oct. 6, 4 p.m. at Concordia Chapel. John Bitoy III, the soloist, is an accomplished musician, pianist extraordinaire and teacher. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) with a degree in piano performance. Bitoy distinguished himself at that university by winning the Clara Rolland Piano Competition Award. In addition, he won four first-place prizes and two second-place prizes in the Great Composer Competition Series at UIUC and has performed solo recitals and participated in music festivals across the country.

Bitoy went on to DePaul University, where he completed a master’s degree in piano performance. In addition to classical music, he also enjoys experimenting with other genres, such as gospel, jazz, neo-soul, R&B and pop.

Bitoy said his main goal as a performer is to connect to the audience and give everyone a fulfilling musical experience.

In addition to his piano performances, Bitoy has distinguished himself by presenting lectures on topics such as “Arabic Music” at the University of Chicago and “Minority Representation in Classical Music” at Smith College.

John Bitoy III grew up in Oak Park, having attended Lincoln Elementary School and graduating from Oak Park and River Forest High School.

Many Oak Parkers remember the late Earl Bitoy, a teacher in Oak Park District 97 schools, who won the national Kohl Award for excellence in teaching. His many former students still remember him with great fondness. John Bitoy III is his great nephew.

Liz Rexford

Oak Park

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