Modern ‘maniacs’ honor masters; Instructors demonstrate professional piano skills

The practice rooms under Ragozzino Hall, many of which have pianos, are available to students and faculty during school hours.Photo: Chris Piepgrass

The practice rooms under Ragozzino Hall, many of which have pianos, are available to students and faculty during school hours.
Photo: Chris Piepgrass

In an effort to raise money for Lane music program scholarships, Lane instructor Barbara Myrick has brought Piano Mania back to the stage.

Everything from classical to jazz to contemporary music will be played on grand pianos by solo instructors and ensembles alike. They will be performing in Ragozzino Hall in order to raise funds for students in Lane’s music department on May 6. These ensembles will range from duets to quintets.

The show is expected to start with a bang with all five of Lane’s grand pianos on stage playing at once. The show will then play through a series of solos. After intermission pianos will return to the stage, culminating in a finale when all five pianos will be played simultaneously once again.

“The money we make frommall of our concerts, faculty and student, goes into an individual scholarship program,” Myrick said. “We require our majors to take private lessons here. This money helps those out that have a problem with that. The amount of money we get depends on the audience, so the more people that come, the better.”

Music classes on campus require the pianos on a daily basis. Everytime the faculty rehearses, they have to move the pianos from separate rooms into the centrally located bandroom on the first floor of Building 6, under Ragozzino Hall. After rehearsal pianos, must be put back so classes can use them the following day.

“The three piano pieces and the five piano pieces we really have only started a few weeks ago. We put them together very fast because we can’t get five pianos together very often,” Myrick said.

Faculty members helped bring the performance together. Rick Canter is one of them. He has donated his time, frequently tuning the pianos for the performance.

“That’s huge. It’s a lot of work. He’s an unsung hero in our book because its awful if they’re not in tune,” Myrick said.

Faculty in collaboration with James McConkey will set the stage so each piano will be facing the audience, displaying the intricacies of the more complex pieces.

Myrick and the music department established rules early to maximize the concert’s entertainment level.

“Pianists, especially accompanists, get used to being in the background. They always have to wear black and be unobtrusive,” Myrick said. We have rules for this concert. One is be prepared, the other is dress to the nines and the third is have fun. You’re going to see some things in this concert that you wouldn’t normally see in a piano concert.”

Seth Mulvihill, a music theory and songwriting instructor at Lane, also contributed by rearranging “Ride of the Valkyries” for five pianos.

“We don’t have as many opportunities to play together as much as we would like, because we all have our own things we’re doing in the community,” Mulvihill said. “We’re all friends. We just don’t get to play together.

Eowyn Miller, a sophomore music major at Lane, will be attending Piano Mania. She is eager to see her teachers play. “The communication between them will be really cool to see,” she said. “They’re all really amazing musicians.”

Miller anticipates being inspired by faculty performing.

“I think it will really impress students and really inspire us to keep up the goowork. It doesnt matter how gifted you are; it matters how hard you work and how much you love music,” Miller said. “That’s what keeps you going.”