2013 MTNA Conference – Sunday Early Afternoon – Alfred Showcase

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The showcase, Make Every Student a Winner: New Music from Alfred, began with a breathtaking performance of Greg Anderson’s new arrangement of Ballet from Orphee et Eurydice. The performers were the guest conference artists, the Anderson & Roe Piano Duo.

This selection was taken from the new series by Alfred: Anderson & Roe Duos & Duets.

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Gayle Kowalchyk continued with an overview of the Premier Piano Course Technique Book 4, the complimentary book given to each showcase attendee. The book is comprised of Technique Tools, Exercises, and Artistic Etudes that incorporate the various technique tools.

In the “From the Heart” etude, students are encouraged to identify the “heart note” which marks the heart of the phrase. I thought this was a really creative way of referring to the climax of the musical phrase!

Next up was an overview of the Belwin Contest Winners series. These are compilations of timeless pieces of sheet music by 20th Century composers organized into books by level. Gayle wanted to share biographical sketches about the various composers, but unfortunately much of their history has been lost. Their music, however, carries on their legacy so that generations today can benefit from their imaginative pieces.

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The selections Gayle played were all wonderful and would be favorites for many students! One audience favorite was “The Viking” from book 3. Gayle wrote words to go with the left hand melody and right hand staccato chords to create a song between the “vikings” and “vikettes.” (I’m home! [he’s home] I’m home! [he’s home] I’m home and want some food! [some food] etc.)

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The next portion of the workshop was Ingrid Clarfield and Phyllis Lehrer sharing the final 40 pieces of the 100 pieces that every student should know (they introduced the first 60 at last year’s MTNA Conference in NYC). These are the pieces that make up their series, “Classics for the Developing Pianist.” Ingrid shared several things that set their series apart from other similar classical anthologies:
1. alternative fingers
2. balanced dynamic markings
3. additional pedaling
4. tempo range (rather than one specific tempo)
5. articulation and realized ornamentation

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Melody Bober continued the showcase with samples of her new series, “Grand One-Hand Solos” for Piano. Each book has eight pieces – four for the right hand and four for the left. The books get progressively difficult, with exploration of different keys. The pieces are amazing sonorous for being only one-handed!

After a couple selections from the Grand Trios for Piano series, Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe took the stage again to share several more selections from their new series.

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It was fun to watch Anderson and Roe demonstrate elements of each of their ensembles, including the very acrobatic Tambourin Chinois (Chinese Drum), that has much overlapping of parts and weaving in and out of each others’ arms! They confess that their arrangements aren’t easy, but they are highly artistic.

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Their piano duo arrangement of the St. Matthew Passion by J.S. Bach was hauntingly beautiful! The gave the audience a glimpse of the Three Waltzes for Two Pianos – A Medley of Waltzes Made Famous in Disney Films. But since the premier of the piece is Tuesday evening at their recital, we only got to hear a portion of the super fun-sounding duo. I can’t wait to hear the whole thing in a couple of days!

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