Today I am mourning the loss of Edmund Battersby, an important mentor in my life. He was a charming, warm and funny person who cared deeply about his students pianistically and outside of music as well. And his musical mind was truly something to behold. Lots of happy memories coming back today, I was very blessed to have had his guidance and support during those bumpy and sometimes scary years of college. He will be missed by many.
Here is the press release from Indiana University and below is a video of him playing Beethoven's Diabelli Variations. I remember seeing him play this monster of a piece at a recital at Indiana University. The Diabelli Variations are about 50 minutes of continuous music (there are 33 variations), but in the hands of a true master - you get sucked in, and every moment is compelling. 50 minutes feels like 5!
I had the honor of playing at three colleges within the past few months. Here's the scoop :
At the University of North Carolina-Pembroke I played some Fats Waller tunes as part of a concert called "Harlem Renaissance: Songs and Stories." Lots of great music-making by the students - the future is looking bright.
At the University of Mount Olive, I gave a solo concert in their beautiful old concert hall. I also enjoyed a pre-concert party at the home of a faculty member who shared with me his delicious homemade brandy. Since the University is a "dry" campus, this faculty member will have to remain anonymous!
Finally I made it down to the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega for another solo concert. The concert was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed hobnobbing with, among others, Professor Esther Morgan-Ellis. The "Prof-esther" (as I call her) is a musicologist who is an expert on American Popular Music from the early 20th Century. She is writing a book about movie theater sing-alongs that were popular in the 1900s-1920s.
Got some sun in Tucson, Arizona! There I joined forces with soprano Melinda Whittington. Melinda was in town to sing the role of Donna Anna in Arizona Opera's production of Don Giovanni. On a day off in between her performances we did a private Downton Abbey-themed program, as the PBS show was heading towards its finale.
Melinda and I have had a lot of fun the past few years giving Downton Abbey-themed programs. The show consisted of opera (including some Puccini that was performed on the show), and several songs from the 1920s that appeared on the Downton Abbey soundtrack.
For several songs, we changed the lyrics to make jokes about the show. As you can see from the photos, Melinda and I can do the serious thing, but most of the time we like to joke around.