Piano Press

Christmas in Vienna Concert!

Christmas in Vienna SKS headerI’ve never been to Christmas in Vienna, but I am hoping to get a taste of it this week in Wayne!  This Friday evening, December 6, Saint Katharine of Siena Church is celebrating the arrival of a magnificent custom built Bösendorfer 225.  (Scroll down for complete details for the evening which includes a Family Friendly Musikfest.)  Special thanks to Rich Galassini and Tim Oliver at Cunningham Piano Company who are one of only a handful of Bösendorfer dealers in the United States.

Bosendorfer at SKS
Newly arrived Bosendorfer at Saint Katharine’s!

I realize it is only a few days away, but I was so caught up with Thanksgiving, I didn’t have a chance to send to you sooner.   I played on this piano for a Mass the day after the delivery  – I think it is my new favorite instrument – simply spectacular and the sanctuary has supurb accoustics.  I had a hard time yanking myself away from the keys!  I can’t wait for the Art Piano students to play on it – I know you will love it!


The brilliant concert pianist Hugh Sung

Hugh Sung hugh-sung-1.jpg will be giving the piano recital at 8pm with audience favorites; he is a truly delightful entertainer!  There will a black tie cocktail reception with viennese treats following the concert. Hugh also made a video of the Bösendorfer factory and how these instruments are made.

And, our very own Mary Agnes will be singing in the Choir concert at 6 PM!

If you can’t make it for all or part of the evening of festivities, please consider making a donation of any amount to help support the purchase of this instrument and please put “Art Piano” in the memo.  We have been fortunate to use this facility for the last five recitals and will benefit from an additional concert on the new Bosendorfer on February 9, 2020 for all in our Art Piano family who would like to participate (alumni and parents included!)  Also, keep your eye out as there will be a concert series launched at Saint Katharine’s in the near future – a great addition to the cultural offerings on the Main Line.  I am excited for all of the years of great music that will be made on this world class instrument in the years to come!

If you are interested in attending one or both of the events please visit: www.sksparish.org/christmasinvienna to RSVP, purchase tickets, or donate (remember to include “Art Piano” in the memo).  The Bösendorfer 225 is named after its lenth of 225 cm.  With this in mind, our goal is to have our studio contribute 10 times the length of the piano, or $2250,  towards the purchase price.

I was the first person (after the pastor) to play on this fine Custom made Bösendorfer 225 last Friday!

Hugh’s Program:

1. Rondo All Turca, K. 331 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

2. Jazz Fantasy on Mozart – Fazil Say

3. Waltz in A-flat major, Op. 42 by Frederic Chopin

4. Impromptu No. 3 in G-flat major, Op. 51 by Chopin

5. Auf dem Wasser zu singen (To Sing on the Water) – Franz Schubert (D.774)/Franz Liszt (S. 558)

6. Die Forelle (The Trout) – Schubert (Op. 32, D 550)/ Liszt (S. 564)

7. Arabesques on the Beautiful Blue Danube – Johann Strauss, transcribed by Adolf Schulz-Evler

We hope you can come on Friday!

Laura and Joe

Event Details:

Family-Friendly MusikFest 
featuring the SKS Children’s Choir, the Main Line Singers, the SKS Adult Choir, and the Cunningham Community Choir
6:00 pm – Concert in Church
7:00 pm – Family-Friendly Reception,
with Viennese desserts
This is a sponsored event
($50 suggested)
In advance: sponsorships accepted
At the event: donations accepted
Inaugural Concert
featuring eminent pianist Hugh Sung
(formal attire required)
8:00 pm – Concert in Church
9:00 pm – Cocktail Reception
This is a ticketed event
In advance: $100/individual & $150/couple
At the event: $125/individual & $175/couple

When Your Fingers Need a Break!

pianoforte giganteSomeone recently passed along to me this video of a group of piano dancers performing the Latin American song Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.  It put a big smile on my face as I remembered dancing on a Walking Piano at FAO Schwarz in NYC and the famous scene from Big (1988)where a young Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia play a 4-footed medley of Heart and Soul and Chopsticks.  I wondered:  Who are these people? How much music training did they have?  Who designed the routine?  How long did they  practice?  Is this skill offered as a class?  The questions poured out as I imagined the troupe being featured on Johnny Carson or David Letterman.  A quick search on the internet revealed a whole world of fancy footwork.  The name of the big piano band in this video is Pianoforte Gigante  and they perform all over Italy in shopping malls, public squares, wedding receptions, etc.   THIS compilation of the “Top Ten Giant Piano Performances” struck me as I noticed that  many of the songs (except Heart and Soul) have been performed on our piano recitals over the years:  Star Wars Theme, The Entertainer, Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, Jingle Bells, Bach Toccata in D Minor and this year the Liszt Rhapsody #2 (7’15”) will be played for the first time by Sanjay Aiyar.  Way to go Sanjay!

As we press forward with online piano lessons and prepare for our first digital recital at the end of this month,  I hope this video puts a smile on your face too.  Joe and I have been delighted with the great strides that you have been making during the quarantine.  Many of our students are finding peace and comfort through the piano and the guitar.  Families are playing duets and even siblings are sharing the bench for 4-hand music.  Students who were struggling to balance high school demands and piano practice have been given the gift of time and have been able to accomplish much more than normally would during “exam period”.  We are very much looking forward to the day when we can resume our in-person interactions with you.  In the meantime, may the gift of music continue to lift our hearts, light our days and fill us with joy during these challenging times.  And, if your fingers need a break, we might consider adding a big piano FEETure to our offerings!

Nik Walling Goes to Carnegie!

On Sunday January 28, our very own Nik Walling, auditioned for and won a spot on the annual Andor Kiszely Honors Recital.  The wiNiknners of this competition are usually given the opportunity to perform in a recital held at Temple University’s Rock Hall.  However, this year the competition was amped up as the hosting organization, the Philadelphia Music Teachers’ Association (PhMTA) announced last June that the recital will be held at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in New York City.  Additionally, the PhMTA opened up the competition and invited students whose teachers are not members of the association to audition as well, thus increasing the pool of applicants considerably.  It was a busy fall for Nik as he prepared assiduously (and successfully) for this tryout of a lifetime.  In the words of one of his judges, his rendition of the Bach Italian Concerto was “flawless”.  Both judges awarded Nik a perfect score of 50/50 points, and one judge gave Nik the “special recognition” distinction on his performance.  Please join me in congratulating Nik in this accomplishment.  We are all extremely proud of his hard work and are inspired by his passion and zeal for music!  Bon Courage, Nik; we wish you well!

If you would like attend the concert and support Nik, he will be sharing the stage with 25 other talented young pianists from the Philadelphia area on Saturday April 7th at 1:00 PM in NYC.  Joe and I will be in attendance.  It promises to be a spectacular showcase!

Tickets are available online:  Click HERE to purchase tickets

Piano on the Beach?

piano on the beachAh, summer!   No school, longer days, beach days, grilling, gardening, swimming, reading, riding bikes, time with family and friends, and time to decompress (I could go on and on…)  It’s no wonder the kids start counting down the number of days left of school before May comes!

The question is:  Should a child (or adult) be expected to take summer piano lessons and maintain a practice schedule during the summer?  As a piano teacher and parent I say, ‘yes, definitely’ and as a piano teacher and parent I also say, ‘absolutely not’.  We LOVE it when  our students take summer lessons and practice.  Since summer is less scheduled, there is more time to practice and advance, the lessons are more relaxed and there is extra time to explore different styles of music and to focus on theory and technique.  It’s a time too where  we can chat a bit more with the child and their family before and after the lesson.  All in all, summer can be a time for strong musical growth.

And, kids need a bit of structure.  Freedom is wonderful but an idol mind is not.  A diet of only TV and friends is unhealthy to say the least.  Parents need to moderate and encourage brain work.  Since music is a language, if it is not used it’s lost.  When a student does not take summer lessons, depending on the age of the child, it can take up to a month to retrieve skill and establish a practice schedule.

But a child absolutely needs a “break” during the summer!  So this year we will be changing up our summer piano lesson structure and give our our students a refreshing break from routines while maintaining progress and motivation.  Each week we will have a different summer theme.  “Road Trips”, “Popsicle Piano Practice”, “Piano Museum”, “Sight-reading Sunglasses”, and “S’more Chords” to give students a little pizzazz and to keep them learning.  And, back by popular demand is our Piano Olympics Camp for students entering grades 5-8

PS If you would like to sign up for summer lessons, here is the link to register online:

Register for Summer 2016 Lessons

Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival

Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival – Sponsored by the Philadelphia Music Teachers Association.

October 2, 2016 (Sunday, 1:00 – 5:30 p.m.)
Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival
Preliminary Auditions
Rock Hall, Temple University
1715 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122
Register on our website by September 10, 2016

November 5, 2016
Dorothy Sutton State Showcase Recitals
West Chester University
Swope Music Building
700 South High St, West Chester, PA 19383
Register on the State website by October 14, 2016