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BYU's American Piano Duo to perform Jan. 12

On Saturday, Jan. 12, the American Piano Duo will treat its audience to the rhythms of Cuban dance, dreams of the elements, a composer’s intimate reflections and a tour through the planets in a concert at Brigham Young University.

The duo is comprised of BYU faculty member Jeffrey Shumway and guest artist Del Parkinson, who have performed together since 1984. They met while attending the Juilliard School of Music in New York, and have since performed together throughout the United States, Mexico and Europe.

The performance will being at 7:30 p.m. in the Madsen Recital Hall, Harris Fine Arts Center. Admission is free.

The concert, titled “By Special Arrangement,” will feature two-piano performances of George Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture,” Claude Debussy’s three Nocturnes, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise,” “It’s Lovely Here” and “Floods of Spring,” and three movements of Gustav Holst’s "The Planets."

Gershwin’s "Cuban Overture" was inspired by a pleasure trip to Havana the composer took with some friends in February 1932. Fascinated with the native music of Cuba, he used Cuban percussion instruments (bong, stick, gourd and maracas) in this mix of Cuban rhythms and the composer’s own style.

Debussy wrote his three Nocturnes for orchestra in 1898-99. Ten years later, his compatriot, Maurice Ravel, arranged them for two pianos. These three paintings are dreams of nuage (clouds), fêtes (festivals) and sirènes (sirens), which represent air, earth and water — the three physical elements that frame all life.

Rachmaninoff's 85 songs for voice and piano were so intimate to the composer's intertwined life and art that he ceased composing songs during the painful years of his exile from Russia. He dedicated “Vocalise,” which he wrote in 1915, to the great Russian singer A. V. Nezhdanova.

Holst’s two-piano version of "The Planets" is unlike most keyboard versions of an orchestral work—it is not an arrangement from the full score. Instead, the piano piece was used to create the full orchestral score. Each of the movements in the piece embodies the characteristics of the Roman deity for whom each planet is named.

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Writer: Marissa Ballantyne


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