Today was a first — my first piano lesson in over five decades! You see, in the upcoming Early Music Hawaii concert (only two days away!) I’m having to play the piano for the accompaniment to three pieces on the program. They include In vidi in terra by Franz Liszt, Nigra sum by Pablo Casals and Who is Silvia? by George Shearing.
Now you’re probably wondering, this is an Early Music concert? with those composers?
Well, yes — and it’s called “Bridging the Centuries 2,” meaning that it’s a sequel to the first Bridging the Centuries concert which was performed on November 14, 2014. In that concert, the same texts were set to music by both Renaissance and contemporary composers — a contrast of sacred texts. In Saturday’s concert, it will be secular texts which will be heard in old and new settings.
In the case of the Liszt, Casals and Shearing, the same texts will be heard in works by Baldassare Donato (1529-1603), Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) and our favorite composer, Anonymous (16th c.)
Believe it or not, the whole “Bridging” concept was the brainchild of you-know-who, as described in the program notes:
During the 2014-2015 concert season, the EMH Chamber Singers presented “Bridging the Centuries,” contrasting 16th century sacred motets with modern settings of the same texts. The program, designed by the late Carl Crosier, was performed in his memory in Honolulu and Kealakekua. Appreciative audiences inspired us to reprise the theme with secular music this season. Happily, it coincides with the 4th centenary of William Shakespeare’s death in April 1616, and the songs from the Bard’s plays, then and now, feature exclusively in the second half of the program. But there are many other love songs from 16th century Europe based on great poetry which we wished to share at the same time; they occupy the first half of this program.
In getting ready for the program, I asked my good friend and piano teacher, Mark Russell, to give me a lesson this morning. He had some excellent suggestions for me, like emphasizing the bass notes (which are SO FAR AWAY compared to organ playing!) in the arpeggiated sections, taking a little time in the melodic phrases to make them expressive, and not playing any two notes the same way. He also helped me with my pedaling technique and the use of the “soft pedal.”
The Honolulu program is Saturday, April 2nd at 7:30 at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. It will be repeated on Saturday, April 9th at 5:00 pm at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in Kona. [NOTE: This is a venue change from previous announcement!]
Other composers include Luca Marenzio, Jacob Clemens non Papa, William Cornysh, Thomas Morley and Robert Johnson contrasting with Morten Lauridsen, William Billings, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Matt Harris. Tickets will be sold at the door, or can be reserved in advance at www.earlymusichawaii.com.
Thank you, Mark! Wish me luck!