I was recently invited to Birmingham, Alabama to attend a taping of a Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio concert. The concept, recording piano concerts that can be heard by all for free on the internet, is the brainchild of piano composer David Nevue and many, many intrepid artists, who for the most part have gone largely unnoticed (not by your author however) by the mainstream marketing machinery.
The idea is to band together a body of artists who have a common interest. Mutual support, ideals, and building marketing power are their foundation. Their love of music and its performance is the mortar that holds them together. The combination has built a tower of strength.
In Birmingham's Forbes' Piano Showroom one hundred people sat with rapt attention as five solo piano artists from across the country pounded out their dreams and hearts in a two hour presentation. Their main goal was not how many CDs they could sell after the performance. It was their fervent hope that they could play with skill and passion enough to influence their listeners to support their genre, there and then and in the future. I think they accomplished their goal on that rainy winter's night.
First up was Philip Wesley of St. Louis. He performed tunes from his albums In A Lifetime and Finding Solace. He captured the audience with the song State of Grace. It was his explanation about being in a state of grace and his musical interpretation that won our hearts and applause. Wesley believes in and practices the healing arts using music. Judging from his music, he is a great healer.
Next up was the local boy, Michael Dulin. Living in Birmingham, a city of remarkable American history, must be a great inspiration to Michael. He played songs from his albums Atmospheres and The One I Waited For. He sat comfortably at the piano, extended his long, sinuous fingers over the keyboard and began to play. It was the last I saw of him for about fifteen minutes because as he played he disappeared into a different dimension where music skills and passions dwell. He returned briefly to introduce his music and was gone again in an instant. His music was quite beautiful and his delivery from the heart. I have never seen anything like it. (See my review of Michael Dulin on the Sounding Board.)
The very emotional Oregonian David Nevue took the spotlight next. If ever there was a man who should be blessed with parenthood, it is David. The light in his eyes and the tremor in his voice when he talked about his source of inspiration, his children, sent waves of emotion through the audience. He sat at the piano, his stance wide, his head bent almost to the keyboard, his elbows askew and then he played the most beautifully sweet tunes from his new release Sweet Dreams & Starlight and Postcards from Germany. We sat awestruck.
Then, fresh from the rocky mountains of California, came pianist Scott B. Davis. Scott combines his love of nature and his passion for music in his compositions and his performance. His exuberance and originality were invigorating and his upbeat attitude was contagious. He performed music from his CDs Tahoma and Winter Journey. He musically created a violent thunderstorm in the room. It was quite impressive since he used only his two hands and one grand piano.
Finally, Atlanta based pianist George Skaroulis performed. George, a veteran of many live concerts, admitted to being a bit nervous as he announced his selections. His unpretentiousness was refreshing and it put us at ease. His skill and power of composition was incredibly exciting. He played tunes, many with proud ethnic themes, from his albums Generations, Return to Homeland and Second Nature.
If you like the genre, as I do, there could not have been a better evening spent. You can relive that night and many, many more exciting hours of solo piano by fresh new artists by tuning into www.solopianoradio.com.
RJ Lannan - March 2005