I am on my way back to New York City after my debut at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival. I had a fantastic experience at the festival and hope that I will have a chance to return again! Several months ago, Gilmore reached out to Concert Artist Guild and asked them if I would be interested in performing some works on toy piano and prepared piano. I jumped at the opportunity instantly because most venues try to discourage me from preparing their concert pianos. At the Gilmore Festival, there are numerous Steinway pianos being used for the festival. There is even a Steinway on-site manager that looks after the tuning and condition of the instruments. Since I was performing a prepared piano work, Perilous Night by John Cage, as well as a acoustic piano piece, Nothing is Real by Alvin Lucier, Gilmore provided me with two Steinway Grands models D and O. I will mostly likely never have the opportunity to do this program again unless I find another venue/festival that is as generous with their pianos as the Gilmore Festival.
The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival has established itself as one of the most prestigious keyboard awards and festivals. Every four years they award a pianist of any age and nationality for their promising career as a concert pianist. This year, the award went to Kirill Gerstein who performed last night. Given the kind of classical piano festival this is, I was really honored that they were willing to incorporate me as a toy pianist, recognizing it’s unique place in the keyboard world. I found the audience members to be curious, knowledgeable of keyboard music and aware of contemporary arts/music. It was the first time several people after the concert mentioned to me that they thought my concert was inappropriate for young kids and found it amusing that people decided to bring their kids to a toy piano concert. I think because of the nature of the festival, audience members seem to “get it” a lot more than other venues where people automatically think the toy piano is for kids. I wouldn’t say that the toy piano concert is not for kids, but I would say it is as kid-friendly ( or non-kid-friendly,for that matter) as any other classical music concert.
Tomorrow I begin my rehearsals for the world premiere of Karlheinz Essl’s new toy piano piece, Whatever Shall Be that will be premiered this weekend at the Look &Listen Festival. Read more later this week to keep up!