Benefit Piano Concert: Salvation Army School for the Blind in Jamaica

This Sunday, March 18 at 4:00 pm, Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta presents: Benefit Concert for Jamaica.  Many top local artists will be performing on the Bosendorfer Imperial in the sanctuary.  Afterwards, a freewill offering will send a piano to the Salvation Army School for the Blind.  The featured artists include Stan Whitmire, Joel Martin, Daniel Solberg and young Yannie Tan.

Yannie is an artist we have watched grow with great interest as one of our customers.  We hope you can come out and make this event successful!

Peachtree Presbyterian Church

Japan Relief Concert Wrap Up: Valentina Lisitsa & Hilary Hahn Perform!

Last Sunday, March 27th, I attended an extraordinary concert at Spivey Hall.  The concert was conceived less than 10 days prior, and so many worked tirelessly to arrange and promote this benefit concert on such short notice.  PianoWorks graciously provided the concert instrument, a Bosendorfer model 280, to be used both in support of Hilary’s violin and in Valentina’s solo work.  The entire event came together fabulously, and over $17,000 was raised to benefit the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund of Direct Relief InternationalThey were originally supposed to be on tour in Japan when it was canceled due to the tragedy there. A Japanese representative was present to thank the audience and receive personal messages of prayer and hope for the people of Japan.

My first instrument was the violin, and I was looking forward to seeing Hilary Hahn perform again, but for me a first time at Spivey Hall and especially with Valentina.  She was outstanding.  My favorite was a piece new to me by Fritz Kreisler.  Her superior technique coaxes the most from her instrument and Valentina gently supported her on the Bosendorfer.  It speaks to the quality of their shared performance that the piano almost disappeared, only refocusing attention to Hilary.

Valentina’s first solo was Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and the familiar piece gave way to my own reverie.  I silently cheered for Spivey’s audience to allow this piece to be played so intimately.  However, I was beginning to fear if the piano would ever come to life, to be tested for its other qualities.  Thankfully, I was next treated to a roaring rendition of Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu.  Such a performance; first came the appreciation of a finer aspects and then came the “wow!”  The night continued on to much applause.

The pair are next headed to Europe where I recommend any who can to set aside time for this concert.  For me, it is a memory that will last.  If you would like to continue your support for relief efforts in Japan, go here.

PianoWorks in the Community: Japan Relief Concert

 As many organizations are raising money for the victims of the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami, PianoWorks is doing their part. PianoWorks is co-sponsoring, as well as providing the piano for, the Japan Relief Concert on Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 3:00 PM at Spivey Hall on Clayton State University in Morrow, GA. The concert will feature violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist Valentina Lisitsa. Tickets are $75 with all proceeds benefitting Direct Relief International’s Japan Relief and Recovery Fund.  Don Bennett, owner of PianoWorks is happy to provide the piano for the concert.

“Valentina is such a delight, and she is truly spectacular,” says Bennett. “We’re happy to help her out any time she needs our assistance.”

Lisitsa and Hahn’s goal is to bring the music community together to raise funds.  Click here for tickets to Spivey Hall.

“Playing fundraising concerts is the very least we could do to help,” says Lisitsa. “We don’t have any particular goal in mind, we are just trying to make it easier for people to come together and help as a community.”

The piano provided for the concert by PianoWorks is a Bosendorfer model 280 Concert Grand.

Hahn and Lisitsa will be performing Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata in F major, plus additional works for violin and piano by Fritz Kreisler, Sergei Prokofiev and other composers.

An Evening of Chamber Music with LYRA, Robert Spano and a Bosendorfer

 Several weeks ago, I circled this event on my calendar.  PianoWorks regularly supplies pianos in support of many recitals, concerts and other musical events around Georgia.  This concert, I wanted to attend personally.  Last Sunday, I attended a wonderful evening of chamber music at CallanwoldeLYRA performed with special guest Robert Spano on piano.  And the outstanding conductor for the Atlanta Symphony can really play.  The quartet chose for their program pieces that really showcased Robert’s talents on a Bosendorfer concert grand piano.  Not that I ever expected any less, but that evening was a real treat for me.

Callanwolde creates a perfect setting for chamber music.  The audience gathers just inches from the performers under lamp lighting.  The strings gather almost in the curve of the concert grand piano in one corner of the elegantly appointed chamber.  Behind the chairs set out for visitors, the grand staircase serves as a balcony for latecomers.  This concert was also a fundraiser to support a strings program for students that have had music cut from their public school budgets.

The night began with the strings, Franz Shubert’s Trio No. 1 in Bb Major for Violin, Viola and Cello, D. 471.  This set the mood and I began to know the players.  Spano joined for Mozart’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, KV 478.  After the intermission, I enjoyed Piano Quartet in Eb Major, Op. 47 by Robert Schumann.  The 3rd movement of this piece was my personal favorite.

Afterwards, I spoke with the both Robert Spano and LYRA founding member, Raymond Leung curious about their impressions of the visiting instrument, our Bosendorfer concert grand.  Among other positive comments, Robert Spano stated the piano was, “absolutely wonderful” and Leung delighted how much better suited this piano was for them over their second choice instrument.  I hope to have video to share in a future update.

PianoWorks in the Community: Spring 2010

We do many things to help support the piano community, and I think we make an impact.  We recently joined Facebook to better share our business because we really do have a lot going on.  We support community events like Gwinnett Piano Ensemble, we host meetings for the Piano Technicians Guild, but I also notice as I spend time with our friends on Facebook just how many have pictures in our store, at our pianos, and at our events as moments important to their lives.

Last weekend was the Gwinnett Piano Ensemble Concert held at Lawrenceville Church of God…

Not long ago, I got an interesting phone call.  A local teacher had booked a photographer for her and her fiance.  They wanted to have part of that session here at PianoWorks because the piano is so central to who she is.  The photos, taken in our performance hall, turned out wonderful.

As I make more friends on Facebook with our customers and area teachers, I see so many photos from the hundreds of recitals we host every year.  I’m proud of our role in creating positive memories for so many people.

It is not uncommon for a piano store to host a local chapter meeting of the Piano Technicians Guild; we usually host a couple each year.  We often host these meetings in our Restoration facility which provides interesting opportunities for technical programs at these meetings.

Much of our impact on our community is hard to measure.  Not long ago I captured a video of one of our customers visiting our store and just playing pianos for his pleasure.  We’re always flattered when our customers remember us and stop by to visit.  Not all of them are as talented as Dr. Sarzen, but they are working at it!

PianoWorks Sponsors Gwinnett Ensemble Piano Concert…for 5 Years Straight

Last weekend was the Gwinnett Piano Ensemble Concert held at Lawrenceville Church of God.  We brought in 4 grand pianos and a professional upright to all be placed on stage for this concert.  Most songs had 2 players on each piano (and one song had 3!) and a conductor leading the keyboard orchestra.  This is our 5th year supporting this endeavor which brings so many students and teachers together.  Ensemble performance is a unique challenge for an instrument that is usually solo.  But before the performance, we also provided rehearsal spaces and instruments for weeks of practice leading up to the concert.  The concert has great attendence as you will see in the video.

North Dekalb MTA Sonatina/Sonata Competition Wrap-up


This afternoon, PianoWorks hosted the Winners Recital from the North Dekalb Rachel Howard Sonatina/Sonata Competion.  Yesterday we hosted the actual competition…272 contestants, 6 judges, over 20 volunteer piano teachers as organizers and many supporting parents and family members steadily came from 8 am to 7 pm.  Here’s a big round of applause for the hard work of all the competitors and the many devoted teachers.  Thank you to the volunteers and supporting families.

The overall turnout was great, surprising even.  This is the third installment of this biannual event, and the event grew almost 60% from two years ago.  This was a good competition as well.  Top prize for the advanced group was $400 of the appoximately $3,000 in total awards.  In the spirit of the day, PianoWorks added a drawing for $350 worth of door prizes.

North Dekalb Music Teachers Association did a great job of stretching the small entry fee.  Other than the cost of the judges and supplies (awards, signs, applications, etc.) they kept the organizing costs down.  PianoWorks provided the facilities, 6 judging rooms, 4 freshly tuned grand pianos and 2 upright pianos and a few warm-up instruments + registration & waiting areas.  In addition to our staff, the piano teachers came through with at least 10 teachers “on duty” at all times.  This allowed the judges to award about 75% of the budget in prize money.  Make no mistake, the checks awarded helped motivate the competitors as evidenced by the proud smiles on the winners’ faces.

I witnessed many performances this weekend, and these kids worked hard at their music.  I find this wonderful and reassuring to see these values passed on.

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