This is the first in a series of 5-piano concerts that would become one of the most popular concerts of the season in Sarasota. Five of us rehearsed practiced at home, then together at Pritchard’s, and then at the Sarasota Opera House, and then performed to a sold-out crowd. And it was so much fun!
- Star-Spangled Banner
- Twinkle Wrinkles
- In The Hall of the Mountain King
- Slavonic Dance No. 2
- Waltz of the Flowers
- Beautiful Galatea Overture
- Bohemian Dance
- Blue Danube Waltz
- Sabre Dance
- The Entertainer
- The Stars and Stripes Forever
- Sempre Fidelis
Five pianists team up for ‘Piano Grand’ at Sarasota Opera House
From left, Don Bryn, Joseph Holt, Andrew Lapp, Rich Ridenour and Jonathan Spivey will take the Sarasota Opera House stage with five Steinway & Sons grand pianos for the “Piano Grand” performance. PHOTO BY BARBARA BANKS
Posted Sep 30, 2016 at 10:00 AM
The Artist Series Concert season will begin with a five-way high-five on Oct. 9, as five world-class pianists team up with five Steinway & Sons grand pianos to bring about favorite classical works, arranged for the group.Joseph Holt, director of artistic programs for the series, said that the concert is centered around arrangements that span ten hands and feature works by 13 different composers, including Grieg, Bizet, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, Rimsky-Korsakov and Joplin.
“I wanted this year to open up with a bang, and I felt like this particular performance has all the earmarks of something that is totally unique,” said Holt. “The way it’s written, you never know which piano is playing the melody or harmony or rhythms, and it dances around from piano to piano.”
Holt will play along with Don Bryn, Andrew Lapp, Rich Ridenour and Jonathan Spivey at the Sarasota Opera House at 3 p.m. The team is quite established. Holt is now artistic director of the Gloria Musicae and Faith Lutheran Church; Bryn plays more than 300 shows a year and splits time between playing, writing and teaching; Lapp has appeared as a soloist with the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, Venice Symphony Orchestra and Sarasota Pops Orchestra; Ridenour established a career as a Steinway artist performing his own musical arrangements of classical masterworks; and Spivey is the Sarasota Orchestra’s principal pianist as well as a founding member of Tampa’s Arioso Trio.
The afternoon will see light plays of familiar songs such as “The Blue Danube” waltz by Strauss, Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and the “Waltz of the Flowers” from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite.”
‘Piano Grand!’ 3 p.m. Oct. 9, Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. Tickets are $45 and available at 941-306-1202 or artistseriesconcerts.org. Student tickets are available at the door.
“The pianos are set up in a circle on the stage, so a majority of people in the audience will have some view of the piano and the pianists’ hands,” Holt said. “The lids will be off the pianos too, allowing the sound to go straight into the hall. In the midst of everything else we have here in Sarasota, this certainly will stand out as a novel and unique experience that you will not hear again.”
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT SUNDAY, OCT. 9, 2016
Music review: Five grand pianos equal crowd pleaser
The Artist Series Concerts Piano Grand! delights audience both musically and emotionally.
by: June LeBell
It’s been done before. Carnegie Hall and Eugene List used to present Monster Concerts featuring a multitude of pianos with lots of grand hands playing great music, from Gottschalk to Grieg. But it’s rarely been done with such finesse and fun as the Piano Grand! concert that opened the Artist Series Concerts on Sunday afternoon to a packed crowd at the Sarasota Opera House.
Five Steinway concert grands were imported from New York City — one of them a model signed by Tony Bennett — and five super Sarasota pianists, Joseph Holt, Don Bryn, Andrew Lapp, Rich Ridenour and Jonathan Spivey, put their hands together for a scintillating concert, with personalized comments by Holt, for performances that brought down the house.
This is the kind of concert that could result in a lot of banging and clanging, but the music never got away from the controlled precision of these five fine musicians. In fact, with all the fun that was thrown at the audience, it was an amazingly understated, balanced performance that made us laugh but also touched us, musically and emotionally.
From a rousing rendition of the National Anthem arranged for a piano quintet to a charming arrangement of Mozart’s “Ah, vous dirai-je maman” (aka “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”), the programming and playing were top notch. Grieg’s famous “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from “Peer Gynt,” Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers,” from “The Nutcracker,” and the Gypsy Dance from Bizet’s “Carmen,” all began with nice, slow tempi that were later expanded into whirlwinds of sounds.
We had a chance to hear the pianists in duets and solos, as Bryn joined Holt for a sensitively played Slavonic Dance in E minor by Dvorak and Holt with Lapp in a stunning performance of Rachmaninov’s “Romance.” There was a wonderfully in sync rendition of the Brazileira from Milhaud’s “Scaramouche” and a jazzy, off-kilter tango (“Libertango”) played by Ridenour, joined by his wife, Stacey Ridenour.
“The Blue Danube” Waltz tinkled along with the grace of the great river and Joplin’s “Entertainer” was stylish and hilarious as the pianists played a game of musical pianos, changing seats mid-phrases.
There were the guaranteed crowd pleasers, too: “Stars and Stripes Forever,” Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance,” and a corn ball overture by von Suppe. But even those were played with both panache and restraint so you never had the feeling this was pure bombast.
We could use more concerts like this; concerts that not only sell out the house but also bring the audience to its feet in a real standing ovation that’s well-deserved. If this is a sign of what’s to come for the Artist Series Concerts, we’ve got a lot to look forward to this season.