Dear Friends of the Art of the Piano,
I hope the season finds you well. The leaves fluttering; sometimes rising, and all eventually falling, seem to be a metaphor for the moment which at times finds us feeling helpless.
However, as always, this too shall pass.
On the brighter side, some orchestras have found a way to play and present concerts, and I’d like to share with you some of the ones I’m involved in.
Out of the blue, there was a flurry of activity in late September which will result in me recording 3 concerts in 3 places in 10 days! Additionally, I’ll be performing Mozart Piano Concerto K.414 this weekend with a string quartet of musicians from the Indianapolis Symphony. There will be about 70 people in a venue that seats 500. My first in-person concert since March 6th!
I now have a special story and treat to share. Back when I won the Naumburg Prize in 1992, while no longer a student at Peabody, had still been practicing there, as I didn’t own a piano. That 5k first prize did not afford me a piano!!!! Somewhere in those first few months Steinway contacted me and said they had an anonymous donor who wanted to provide a Steinway D for me in my home in Baltimore. I was flabbergasted, and of course tried to find out who, but also wasn’t going to let not knowing keep me from saying “yes thank you, I’lI take it tomorrow!”
I had that piano for about a year or so before I moved to New Mexico. I had been hoping it might travel with me, but my anonymous donor was gently disapproving–I think :)–of my move. So I had to let the piano go.
Well, over the years, I had always wondered who that had been, and I had some ideas. I called Steinway at some point and asked if the donor was prepared to identify themselves now. To my surprise and joy, he said yes. It turned out not to be who I thought it was, but it was her two -piano partner!!! And, it turned out that I was about to play in North Carolina very close to where she lived. So began a truly joyous friendship.
That woman was Dorothy Shuford, who is also one of our board members. Dorothy and I had charted some of the same course of study through Peabody where she received her DMA with Mr. Fleisher, having found her way there through Juilliard and studies in Paris. She is an amazing pianist, recently having recorded the Rachmaninoff 2nd Piano Concerto, and the Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini. She has a wonderful home in the mountains of North Carolina, and has just recorded a performance of the 1st movement of Beethoven Op. 109 which I think is beautiful, powerful, and elementally expressive, and I’d like to share it with you all. It also has a video component, which of course brings us full circle to the leaves of fall. Another wonderful part of the full circle is that this summer an anonymous donor, through Art of the Piano, was able to provide a piano to a very talented student who didn’t have access to one…
Please enjoy and take care, my friends,