l-r: David Carnes, Joseph Akins, Pam Asberry, Wayne Gratz, Lee Bartley
I am a lucky woman; I got to attend not one but TWO solo piano concerts over the weekend.
Playing on a beautiful Bosendorfer grand piano at Piano Works in Duluth, Georgia were Joseph Akins, Lee Bartley, David Carnes, Stanton Lanier and Wayne Gratz. Saturday night, there was even a bonus performance by Philip Wesley, who happened to be in the audience and graciously agreed to share a piece with us.
Both concerts were positively delightful. These artists come from diverse musical backgrounds and their music - often referred to as "New Age" or "neoclassical" - is as individual and unique as their personalities. Influenced by traditional hymns, the classics, pop, rock, jazz and native music, their compositions range from slow and contemplative to quick and spirited, sometimes even humorous. Regardless, as emcee Joseph Akins explained, whereas all pianists play with their fingers, Whisperings musicians play from their hearts.
These concerts tend to be very intimate and somewhat informal. Each artist plays a total of four pieces, and shares a bit of back story about each before beginning. Some of my personal favorites were Butterfly Ride by Joseph Akins, First Snow by Lee Bartley, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by David Carnes,Captivating by Stanton Lanier, and Natalie by Wayne Gratz. I also got a kick out of Joseph's arrangement of Jingle Bells, soon to be released as a single. (Click on any of the artist's names to visit their websites and find out more about them and their music.)
In between sets, there was a brief intermission and the opportunity to purchase CD's and sheet music from the composers, who were readily available for an autograph or just a handshake. These men are warm and accessible, and I am always grateful for the way they encourage young people to practice and perform and create. My high school students especially enjoy playing this style of music, and some have even been inspired to compose original works of their own. Who knows? One of my piano students may end up being a Whisperings artist of the future!
At the conclusion of each program was a grand finale, beginning with one artist improvising at one piano, growing into two pianists at two pianos, and ending with all four musicians using eight hands at two pianos. This was a hand-clapping, toe-tapping good time for everyone; I could have listened for hours. All that was left to do afterwards was give the performers a richly deserved standing ovation - both nights.
I strongly encourage you to go to a Whisperings Solo Piano concert if you ever have the opportunity. Click HERE to find out about events in your area, or HERE to stream Whisperings Solo Piano Radio for free.