Archive for May, 2006

With over 30 years of songwriting, I had a hunch that Billy Joel wasn’t going to be content with the generic term ‘concerto’ for his music-turned-into-concerto for piano and orchestra. Asked to submit three possible titles, the winner became Stuart Malina’s offering: Symphonic Fantasies for Piano and Orchestra. Perhaps a sister to the Symphonic Variations by Cesar Franck–though the Joel stands on its own at 30 minutes. With the premiere getting close, going through the score and parts and piano part for atleast a near-perfect sounding premiere, is a challenge. Aside from a synthesized demo, which is actually quite remarkable in itself, I am very curious as to the final product. To be continued…

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Just arrived in Milwaukee yesterday (May 10) for the premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s Third Concerto this weekend. The expectation of what the piece might sound like with the piano part I’ve memorized, coupled with the orchestra part I have only conceived in my inner ear, became a reality that is hard to put into words. The colors and the energy is amazing–and having the composer in the hall listening is a great challenge, but the sense of comradry seemed to take precedence. We both attended The Juilliard School in the early 1980s, as did concertmaster Frank Almond (always an amazing violinist) and Maestro Andreas Delfs–though I vaguely remember seeing Maestro Delfs in the halls of Juilliard, and Frank was in my classes, and Lowell was a double major in piano and composition. After over 20 years, we all found ourselves in the same hall, with different parts to play–composer, conductor, pianist, orchestral concertmaster–all for the beauty of introducing a new work to the mainstream repertoire. After today’s first session, Lowell actually admitted that he thinks this third concerto might give his second concerto a run for its money! I think they are both staggering works, and it is a gratifying feeling to know that we are all part of the inception, and birth of a new concerto. Surely it will be played in the future by many-a-pianist–I certainly hope!

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