Come Perform at a Piano Showcase!
Schott Music are presenting a piano showcase in January that gives YOU the opportunity to perform in public, no matter what your level. Performing in front of an audience can be a thrilling experience. Just the act of putting your fears to one side and having to play a piece from beginning to end – without any breaks, away from the practice room, and in front of an audience – will help you learn so much about the piece and about your playing overall. It’s the kind of experience that can shift your playing up a gear, no matter what your level of playing.
Where, though, to strut your stuff? There’s always the supportive audience in your front room, your teacher’s recital evening, or your local piano club, if you have one. The latest project is a unique idea from Schott Music. On the evening of 23 January 2015, at Schott Music’s recital hall in the centre of London, we’ll be jointly presenting our first Schott Piano Showcase. Performers will get to play on a beautifully maintained Steinway Model M baby grand.
Schott has run three previous showcases and I attended the latest one in May, which was under the direction of concert pianist Samantha Ward, who is also artistic director of Wales’s Piano Week. Ward told me about some of the participants. ‘We had a man in his thirties who works at Credit Suisse,’ said Ward. ‘He played the Allegretto Grazioso by Gurlitt from Schott’s Romantic Anthology Book 1 (that’s Grade 1 standard). He was very nervous when he played the first time around, but he played it again and did really well. Then we had a woman in her forties who played a Brahms waltz from Romantic Anthology Book 3. It was the first time she had played in public. She was terrified beforehand, but she did really well. They were both so happy they’d taken up the challenge. And they played brilliantly.
‘The showcase gives adults a platform to play informally for each other, and possibly for the first time,’ Ward concluded. ‘It’s a social thing and people become friends and support each other.’
Tempted yet? First of all, it’s free – for participants and for attendees. Here’s what you need to know if you want to take part in our showcase in January. First and foremost, you can be at any level, though you must be over the age of 18. You’ll choose a piece from a wide-ranging repertoire list, which, again, covers all levels. You don’t have to memorise your piece; playing from the score is fine. Space is limited – we expect to be able to accommodate anywhere from 20 to 30 people on the night – so you will want reserve your place now by going to the link for the easy-to-use website listed at the end of this article. You can bring along a friend, family member, anyone you like By the way, you also can attend purely as an audience member – though numbers are limited.
So what kind of music will you find on that repertoire list? Schott has devised a very diverse list and includes a lot of familiar pieces and some less-usual pieces that are well worth exploring. I talk through the list with Wendy Lampa, Head of International Publishing at Schott, who explains the thinking behind the list: ‘We are highlighting our main authors and composers, such as Hans-Günter Heumann and his The Classical Piano Method [Heumann is the teacher behind Pianist’s current Keyboard Class]. Other books with arrangements by Heumann are the Get to Know Classical Masterpieces series, which includes Carnival of the Animals, Peer Gynt and Carmen. They’re not for complete beginners – I’d say intermediate level. Some are easier than others, though, and we find that teachers often use them for students’ recital pieces.
‘Then there is the On the Lighter Side series by John Kember, which includes Latin, ragtime, blues, spiritual, rock and soul pieces. Kember also has a beginner book called Starting Out. Another choice, with all original pieces, is Nils Franke’s Classical and Romantic Anthology series, with four books in each, by level, with two grades in each book. We also have Tim Richards’s blues, jazz and Latin piano series. They all include some standards within those styles as well as his original compositions. There’s a lot of diversity, as you can see! The Discovering Rock Piano books, for example, by Jürgen Moser, are great for teenagers. They give chord progressions and so on, and if students are interested in composing their own works, they’re helpful. There’s also a series called Classics Meet Jazz and Tango Meets Jazz. In those you get the original piece, and then there’s a jazzy version or a tango version. There are some duets too that we’re offering, and some great contemporary collections such as Dances of Our Time, consisting of pieces by all the Schott contemporary composers. There’s the World Music series – Scottish, English, Irish, Welsh, Brazilian and Argentinian. We will have a Klezmer piano book too very shortly.’ Goodness – there’s got to be something there that inspires!
You can study the repertoire list for yourself at the showcase website listed below, but make your choice soon and get your name on the list soon. Remember, this event is on a first-come, first-served basis, and the end of January is not so far away – that means you’ll want to get practising soon! This is going to be a friendly and supportive event, and if you’re looking to perform, it’s the perfect event. As Lampa says, ‘Performers can be complete beginners, as long as they’ve practised their piece (for their sake as well as the audience!). If someone’s been learning for just a few months, and they want to play, that’s great. It’s motivating for them, and the audience is sympathetic and encouraging.’
For my part, I will be proud to see some of my loyal readers play. Remember, this is not a competition. You can play the simplest 12-bar prelude, or the hardest 10-page etude. Don’t be shy. I’ll be there to spur you on. And we can all have a catch-up over a glass of wine afterwards!
THE PIANO SHOWCASE
23 January 2015, from 6pm to 9.30pm
Schott Music Recital Hall
Schott Music Shop
48 Great Marlborough St
London W1F 7BB