Lane instructors raised scholarship funds while showcasing their creativity and a variety of skills at Piano Mania in Ragozzino Hall on May 6.
The night began with five grand piano players pounding out Wolfgang Mozart’s “Overture” from The Marriage of Figaro, arranged by Piano Mania Coordinator Barbara Myrick.
“What better way to start this unique concert than with Mozart’s sparkling overture?” Myrick said. The introductory piece was conducted by symphony instructor Hisao Watanabe, who wore an 18th-century suit, complete with a powdered wig, as Mozart would have.
After the ensemble left the stage, a crew emerged to rearrange the pianos for the upcoming duet. Second-year Lane music student Cassidee Fosback helped as a stagehand.
James McConkey, Ragozzino Hall stage manager, used tape to mark how pianos would be arranged during each set. “We just had to roll the pianos to their blocked positions,” Fosback said.
After the introduction, two pianos remained. Genevieve Mason, a part-time instructor at Lane and UO graduate from France, performed “Andante and Variations, Op. 46” for two pianos by Robert Schumann with Myrick. The piece was originally composed in 1843.
Trills ran back and forth between the two like a conversation.
“The piece grabbed me with its emotional contrasts and subtle dissonances,” Myrick said.
The staff then rotated, performing variations of solos and duets of their choosing. Sandy Holder and Vicki Brabham started the transition with a few jazz tunes. At one point, Brabham feigned a few kicks to the piano as she played. Like a jukebox skipping, she repeated the first ending of her tune until the final kick fixed the problem, bringing her improvisation to its conclusion.
“I played around with it and tried to create a mood. I play from a lead sheet, which is just the melody and the chords,” Brabham said. “I just improvised and threw in things that I was thinking of.”
As the concert resumed after a short intermission. More pianos were gradually returned to the stage until all five were present for the finale.
Seth Mulvihill conducted his arrangement of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” adorned in Nordic attire, complete with helmet and staff.
The concert finale concluded with ”Stars and Stripes Forever,” composed by John Philip Sousa, arranged by Myrick and conducted by Lane instructor Ron Bertucci. At its climax, Myrick was handed a flute and a trombone that was literally constructed for Bertucci. Red, white and blue lights added to the showmanship as they played, while some audience members waved miniature American flags.
Myrick concluded by thanking the audience, her colleagues and all those involved in the event.
McConkey attributes a portion of the concert’s turnout to successful advertising through social media.
“We put three videos up on Lane’s social media and got more than 1,250 hits in a three day period,” he said.
“It was a good crowd,” Lane instructor Larry Clabby said. “It makes it easier to perform when you have an enthusiastic audience. It’s like you’re connecting; there’s a give-and-take.”
The revenue from all concerts held on Ragozzino’s stage are used to provide scholarships for the performers’ area of study.