Campus News

Keyboard Is King at Bowdoin This Spring

Story posted January 30, 2012


Audiences can experience the full evolution of the piano this semester, with a inviting range of concerts featuring organ, clavichord, harpsichord, fortepiano, pianoforte — and even the Hammond organ.

The series culminates with a Bowdoin Klavierfest, April 12-14, which brings leading concert pianists and scholars together for a series of master classes, talks and performances. It features the performance of a new work by Bowdoin composer Vineet Shende, and the New England premiere of a recently discovered composition by Vladimir Horowitz.

Internationally known pianist George Lopez, who is Bowdoin's artist-in-residence, says the concerts will "expose people to the many creative facets of playing keyboards. Their musical dynamism invites new and wonderful ways of listening to music."

Lopez on Brahms

Pianist George Lopez

Romantic music doesn’t get much more lyrical and intimate than Brahms’ Sonatas for Violin and Piano, a cycle of works far too infrequently performed together. According to pianist George Lopez, who performs all three Brahms sonatas with renowned violinist Eva Gruesser on Feb. 4th, the works are “as high a level of writing as any solo piano work.”

“The piano score is not written as an accompaniment, but as a complementary part with the violin, often acting as the melody instrument. They are luscious, dynamic works.”

Lopez and Gruesser are live guests on Suzanne Nance’s Morning Classical Music on Maine Public Radio, Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, at 11 a.m.

The keyboard series begins with gusto on Feb. 4 when Lopez performs all three of Brahms' Violin Sonatas with violinist Eva Gruesser, followed by a Feb. 10 concert, where harpsichordists Ray Cornils, John Corrie and four other local harpsichordists perform Bach's Concertos for Multiple Harpsichords, for one to four harpsichords with chamber orchestra. Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.

On the softer, pianissimo, side, clavichordist Henry Lebedinsky '97 performs music from 18th century St. Petersburg at 7:30 on on Feb. 24.

"Unlike the harpsichord, which is plucked, the clavichord has metal tangents that strike the string and produce a soft, extremely expressive sound," notes Delmar Small, Bowdoin Music Concert, Budget and Equipment Manager. "It's a more or less private instrument, suitable for a salon."

The modern pianoforte — capable of being played both soft, piano, and loud, forte — was invented at the end of the 17th century and has played a major role in Western music since.

A teatime concert on March 9th at 4 p.m., features three pianists who are teaming up to perform one of the most challenging piano compositions of the 20th century, Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jesus. The 130-minute tour de force tests the piano's expressive range from the most tender pianissimo to thundering quadruple fortes.

Other keyboard-themed concerts include a turn by famed jazz group the James Carter Organ Trio on April 11 — featuring Carter on sax and Gerard Gibbs on a classic Hammond B3 organ — as well as a March 2 organ concert by Tom Mueller in the Bowdoin Chapel. Both performances start at 7:30 p.m.

At the keyboard of Bowdoin's 1927 Austin Organ,

Delmar Small will demonstrate two of Bowdoin's three organs at 12:15 p.m. on Feb. 21, including a tour inside The Bowdoin Chapel's historic 1927 Austin Organ. The pipes and wind chest are housed in the east gallery (formerly the College's art collection) and total 47 ranks and 2,567 pipes. The chapel also is home to a replica Baroque organ.

"I'll explain how the instruments work, demonstrate the sound, play a bit," says Small. "It's quite amazing to go inside the Austin organ to see the wind chamber under the pipes."

Except for the March 2 organ concert, all performances are at Kanbar Auditorium in Studzinski Recital Hall. Admission is free and open to the public. A $20 advance registration fee is required for the Bowdoin Klavierfest.

For more information, call 207-725-3747.

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