I am proudly posting news that the Billy Joel Concerto will be premiered since its conception in October 2005. Naturally, working with his excellent team, I’ve needed to acquire approval in every step in order to write the piano part, acquire an orchestrator, have Mr. Joel’s approval of the orchestrator, synthesized demo, performances and publicist’s approval of press releases. Aside from this, I arranged the piano part of Billy’s wonderful ‘classical’ pieces with the notion that with such beautiful melodies and harmonies, no doubt a tribute to Chopin, Schumann, Rachmaninoff,Tschaikowsky and others, it’s in a new way which I am hoping will develop into a trend of new Romantically inspired works to emerge. The movie soundtrack composers have indeed kept this style alive, and with their delving into the concert hall (like Gershwin did amongst several Paul Whiteman Experiments in Modern Music in the early 20th century), might we be ready for a revival of this movement amongst today’s composers? The music of Gershwin, Addinsell, and others of this genre might not be considered the most profound of all music, but hasn’t their music helped shape our popular audience attendance, which may have helped entice them to listen to newer forms of music? Is there room for pop icons to follow their heart and write classically contrived melodies? Were they trained classically and might they be able to do this? What might they create? Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer certainly wrote a marvelous piano concerto in 1977, and note John Corigliano popularized himself with The Red Violin. Is there ‘classical’ ability amongst the many hot-ticket-selling pop stars that can contribute to the concert hall today? Many questions for sure, but is it a way to ensure for future symphony orchestra attendance?
Billy Joel Piano Concerto at Eastern Music Festival
Pianist Jeffrey Biegel Performs World Premiere of Pop Music Icon’s New Classical Work on June 24, 2006
Greensboro, NC – The Eastern Music Festival today announced the world premiere of a new and eagerly awaited classical work from pop music star Billy Joel ““ his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra ““ which will be performed on June 24, 2006 at the War Memorial Auditorium of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro, North Carolina. This unprecedented collaboration between EMF, composer Joel and celebrated American pianist Jeffrey Biegel will open the innovative American festival’s 45th season, nationally recognized for both its top classical program and training institute, as well as a diverse schedule of more than 80 events featuring everything from the classics to gospel, blues and Americana.
The June 24 world premiere of Joel’s Piano Concerto will feature pianist Jeffrey Biegel as soloist with the Eastern Philharmonic Orchestra, the summer Festival’s resident orchestra whose members are drawn from top orchestras across the U.S. The performance, which also includes music by Johann Strauss and W.A. Mozart, will be led by guest conductor Stuart Malina, who garnered a “Best Orchestration” trophy at the 57th Annual Tony Awards for his work on Joel’s popular Broadway hit “Movin’ Out”.
In 2001, the classical muse led the six-time Grammy winning pianist singer/songwriter to publish Fantasies and Delusions, a collection of solo piano pieces eight years in the making that was subsequently recorded and spent eighteen weeks as the number one recording on Billboard’s “Top Classical Albums” chart that same year. The new Concerto for Piano and Orchestra is drawn from that material — a winsome tableau of four virtuosic movements for piano and orchestra arranged by Jeffrey Biegel and orchestrated by Phillip Keveren. The four movements are: 1) Fantasy (Film Noir); 2) Sorbetto; 3) Reverie (Villa D’Este); and 4) Nunley’s Carousel Waltz.
Hailed “”¦a brilliant performer” by Leonard Bernstein, internationally renowned pianist Jeffrey Biegel’s brilliant career has been marked by bold, creative achievements and highlighted by a remarkable number of “firsts”. In 1997 for example, he performed the American Premiere of the restored 1924 manuscript of Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ with the famed Boston Pops (covered by CNN, ABC-TV, NPR, CBC Canada, Associated Press and USA Today). He has recorded Leroy Anderson’s Concerto in C with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin for the Naxos label. He performs the world premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s Concerto no. 3 with the Milwaukee Symphony conducted by Andreas Delfs on May 12 to launch the first of 18 co-commissioning orchestra concerts worldwide of the work. His web site is www.cyberecital.com.
Billy Joel has had 33 Top 40 hits and 23 Grammy nominations since signing his first solo recording contract in 1972. In 1990, he was presented with a Grammy Legend Award. Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992, Joel was presented with the Johnny Mercer Award, the organization’s highest honor, in 2001. In 1999 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and has received the Recording Industry Association of America Diamond Award, presented for albums that have sold over 10 million copies.
Having sold more than 100 million records over the past quarter century, Billy Joel ranks as one of most popular recording artists and respected entertainers in the world. In addition to his Grammy Awards, Joel has earned three Awards For Cable Excellence and has received numerous ASCAP and BMI awards including the ASCAP Founders Award and the BMI Career Achievement Award and, in 1994, was given the 1994 Billboard Century Award. Among his many other awards and honors, Billy Joel has been given a Doctor of Humane Letters from Fairfield University (1991), a Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music (1993), and a Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hofstra University (1997) and a Doctor of Music from Southampton College (2000).
Joel has donated his time and resources to a variety of charitable causes outside the realm of his musical career. A longtime advocate for music education, he first began holding “master class” sessions on college campuses more than 20 years ago, giving sessions at colleges across the country and around the world. In addition, he has held classes as a benefit for the STAR Foundation (Standing for Truth About Radiation) and to establish the Rosalind Joel Scholarship for the Performing Arts at City College in New York City.
Billy Joel has recently launched an ongoing educational initiative to provide seed money, musical scholarships, and endowments to a variety of East Coast colleges, universities and music schools.
Tickets for EMF’s special June 24 Billy Joel Concerto performance will go on sale beginning [sale date] from the Greensboro Coliseum Box Office, select Triad area Lowe’s Food Stores, online from www.tickets.com, or charge by telephone toll-free: 888-397-3100. Ticket prices are $20, $40 and $75; proceeds from the concert will be used to support 2006 School programs and scholarships.
Now in its 45th year, Eastern Music Festival & School is recognized for its prodigious contributions to the field of American music and its commitment to nurturing talented American youth. The Festival brings high artistic quality to both public performances with America’s most sought-after artists and the academy for pre-professional students. The 2006 Season (June 24 through July 29) features a bevy of classical music heavyweights, including violinist Joshua Bell, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, the Canadian Brass, pianist AndrÃ¨ Watts, Pinchas Zukerman, principal conductor Gerard Schwarz, and many others. The Festival also includes a schedule of popular fringe events, featuring everything from alt country and blues, to jazz and gospel. For more information about the Eastern Music Festival or its programs, please visit www.EasternMusicFestival.org, or call toll-free: 1-877-833-6753.