Virtual piano concerts
BRATTLEBORO- The Vermont Jazz Center presents its fourth annual Solo Jazz Piano Festival the weekend of April 24 and 25, in live streaming format. Each of the artists will be performing from the comfort of their own home or a close-by piano studio using digital streaming technology to present their sets live, directly on the Vermont Jazz Center’s webpage.
The festival will be run using the same format as past years: Friday and Saturday evening feature concerts, Saturday daytime classes and emerging artist concerts, and a late afternoon panel discussion amongst all the artists. The performers will be NEA Jazz Master Toshiko Akiyoshi, Manuel Valera, Orrin Evans, and Shamie Royston as headliners as well as emerging artists Franz Robert, Maya Keren and Matt Twaddle. Helen Sung will moderate Saturday afternoon’s panel discussion.
The event will be free and open to the public, donations are encouraged and can be made on line via the VJC’s website.
This year is particularly special. With the precautions taken due to COVID-19, arts organizations are limited to communicating their messages via online services. This virtual solo piano festival promotes the VJC’s mission, continuing the thread of learning and community engagement by spreading the thrill of jazz piano world-wide using resources new to the VJC’s production experience. The jazz center is working directly with web designer John DiGeorge of Good Bear Productions and videographer Michael Hanish of Free Lunch Media to incorporate various platforms that, when combined, create a well-rounded visual/audio experience to virtual audiences. The festival will be live streamed on Vimeo while incorporating the mass appeal of Facebook and the power of Zoom meetings to create a facsimile of a live experience.
Now in its fourth year, the Solo Jazz Piano Festival has become a treasure for lovers of music in general, not just pianists. Some of the greatest minds of the jazz world will teach and tell stories relaying personal narratives during the event. Attendees will communicate virtually with these artists via Q&A sessions at the end of their master classes.
These master classes offer windows into the history and processes of playing jazz piano: touch, tone, technique, repertoire and lots of stories. They are a playful doorway into the lives and fascinating minds of musicians. It will also be an opportunity for viewers to find out how musicians are handling the paradigm of the new gig economy: what are they doing with their time, how are they managing financially, how are they finding purpose in their creative lives?
In 2017, the VJC presented its first annual festival to honor solo jazz piano. It was inspired by the donation of a world-class quality Steinway Concert Grand piano to the Vermont Jazz Center. Gifted by the McKenzie Family Charitable Trust and fully rebuilt by technician William Ballard. This piano was initially owned by the concert pianist and virtuoso Lorin Hollander. Festival attendee Steve Merriman wrote about his experience: “The combination of master classes and formal performance was a truly wonderful way to organize this event. The opportunity to discover a community of kinship established through a shared love of the solo piano genre and demonstrations of that genre by a fabulous array of superlative players channeling their gifts through an extraordinary instrument make for a weekend of true piano jazz bliss.”
Stream this event on Friday and Saturday, April 24 and 25, at vtjazz.org.