anikushin1Russian born (and internationally lauded) keyboard artist Maxim Anikushin performs in a free concert at Monmouth Conservatory of Music Saturday afternoon.

Classical music can be a little scary to those who don’t often breathe in its rarefied air. The gowns and tuxedos, the season tickets that go for the price of a certified pre-owned Lexus, the sense that you’re a trespasser in a strange land.

Look a little closer, however, and you’ll see that there’s a place, right in your back yard, that can erase those fears — a place where you can experience some first-rate performers, in a relaxed and comfortable setting that’s as free of unnecessary pomp and preening as it is free of charge.

It’s the Monmouth Conservatory of Music, and this Saturday afternoon, February 19, it hosts another in a series of acclaimed artists inside the auditorium of its headquarters on White Street in Red Bank.

Under the administration of Russian-born director Vladislav Kovalsky, the MCM has stepped up its yearly schedule of faculty and guest-performer recitals presented in the spacious all-purpose room of the building adjoining Trinity Episcopal Church. In addition, the Conservatory has for over six years now produced a series of free monthly concerts at the Middletown Township Public Library, under the name Music for a Wednesday Evening.

Saturday’s performance spotlights a young Muscovite who — in the years since he relocated Stateside — took his Master’s at Juilliard, made his big-time debut at Carnegie Hall and played with distinction in some of the most formidable international competitions. Praised by one reviewer as “destined to enter the annals of his generation’s important young pianists,” Maxim Anikushin comes to Red Bank to perform a program of works by Barber, Beethoven, Chopin, Haydn and Tchaikovsky.

In an interview that appeared previously on redbankgreen, Kovalsky said of the Middletown biblioteque, “Whoever planned the library must have had a great knowledge and love for music… it seems to go against all laws of acoustics and building materials, but it’s been a wonderful place for music.”

On Wednesday, February 23, the MCM returns to the community room of the  M’town Main Branch on New Monmouth Road for an intimate event that showcases a talent two-fer: pianists Brian and James Register. The brothers, both of them longtime students at the Conservatory (and now both juniors at Rutgers) are scheduled to perform a program of selections by Chopin and Schumann — as well as Franz Schubert, whose 19th century “Military March No. 3 for Four Hands” would almost appear to have been written to order. Both events are, as always, free — but reservations are encouraged for the Red Bank performance, and can be made by calling 732-741-8880.