This Sunday, Jan. 29, at 2:00 p.m., Laura Ward and I will present a two-piano concert. I first met Laura in 1996 when she served as rehearsal pianist for the Sanctuary Choir’s preparations for Verdi’s “Requiem.” From the first notes she played I felt a strong musical connection! Years later we formed a two-piano team, making our debut concert at BMPC.
One might think that two people playing two pianos at the same time would be relatively easy and straightforward. However, ensemble work, be it two pianists, a string quartet or a choir, can be tricky. Singers must breathe together, follow a conductor, match vowels, and place consonants in the right place. String quartets require incredible listening skills and nearly non-stop eye contact. Pianists are faced with the reality that the piano is a percussion instrument… i.e. if our hammers don’t strike the strings at the same time, chaos ensues. It takes teamwork and a commitment to shared musical ideals. In short, it means being in “intentional community” with one another.
Being “in community” is a tangible process. It requires a shared purpose and set of values. It requires mutual respect and a willingness to engage in meaningful, positive dialogue. For Laura and me, this means agreeing on tempo, how loudly or softly we play, how we articulate a particular passage, when we release the sustain pedal, and when we engage the soft pedal. In short, “teamwork!”
It’s a fascinating process for sure. At our first rehearsal this past Tuesday, we played through the first page of Francis Poulenc’s dazzling “Sonate for Two Pianos.” We stopped and Laura burst out with, “Oh my gosh, this is SO much fun!” In short, “teamwork!”
If you’re looking for a bit of joy in this winter days, please join us this Sunday at 2:00 p.m. We will perform works by Rameau, Jongen, Ravel, Poulenc, and perhaps a surprise as well. A freewill offering will be received to benefit the important work the Homeless Advocacy Project is accomplishing for Philadelphia’s immense homeless population. After the recital, a reception will be held in the art gallery to celebrate the recital and the opening of the newest art show, a dazzling exhibition of the works of Suzanne DuPlantis.