gilmore keyboard festival

Sehvilla Mann | WMUK / photo of Emmet Cohen by Taili Song Roth

Pierre Van Der Westhuizen, executive director of the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, joins Cara Lieurance to open the 2020 festival brochure and discuss the various artists, styles, venues and extra-musical experiences the festival will offer between April 22 - May 10. Van Der Westhuizen created different categories with multiple events for 2020, including "A Celebration of Beethoven," "Blissfully Baroque," "Keyboard Deep Dive," and "Jazz." The festival will be held in venues in Kalamazoo and surrounding communities from April 22 - May 10. 

One of the pianists singled out in the discussion is Sergei Babayan, whose career as a teacher has kept him under the radar as a soloist. He's one of the few pianists whose Chopin playing can bring Van Der Westhuizen to tears, he says. The festival will also celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth with a number of concerts, including 2018 Gilmore Artist Igor Levit playing an all-Beethoven program.

The Twin Cities-based choral group Border CrosSing, founded by Dr. Ahmed Anzaldua, a graduate of Western Michigan University, will offer a free community sing and a public concert in Kalamazoo this week. 

In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Anzaldua explains that the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, which is sponsoring the Border CrosSing tour, was one of the reasons he chose to apply to school in Kalamazoo, where he earned a master's degree in piano and another in choral conducting. For his PhD in choral conducting, Anzaldua moved to the Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota. That's where he founded a choir to showcase the rich music of Latin American composers from the 1500s to the 2000s, drawing on his personal and scholarly background. Border CrosSing was recognized as an important project from the start, as a model for how music and community can learn from each other. 

C. Lieurance

In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Rob Weiner and Jeremy Koch, two of the founders of Farmers Alley Theatre, share their anticipation for the seven Signature Series productions, three Spotlight Series shows, and three Theatre For Young Audiences offerings in the 2019-2020 season. At season 12, says Weiner, their vision and model is reaching new stages of experience and growth, thanks to a growing reputation nationally and the good word of performers from New York and Los Angeles cast in Farmers Alley productions.

The Spotlight Series begins Oct 4 with a re-envisioned chamber setting of the Lerner & Loewe musical Camelot, followed in late November-December by It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. The ripped-from-the-headlines dramedy The Cake and Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers follow, in February and March. Farmers Alley Theatre will partner again with the Gilmore Keyboard Festival in spring to present an intimate look at Billie Holiday's life, in Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grille. Then in June, they'll present the first regional production of Bright Star, written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, followed by High Fidelity in July-Aug, adapted from the 2000 film.


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The Gilmore Keyboard Festival will present five solo recitals this Sep - Jan, representing an array of talent  making waves in the classical world. Executive director Pierre Van Der Westhuizen joins Cara Lieurance to talk about how he and the festival  discover, support, and showcase the next generation of great artists.

Tiffany Poon is the first to perform, on Sep 22. A "vlogger," she makes popular videos of her practice sessions on YouTube, reaching over 130,000 subscribers. On Oct 6, two Lang Lang Scholars, Alia Alsafa and Jeffrey Chin, offer a joint recital. The Russian-Lithuanian Lukas Geniušus, from a family of venerated classical musicians, appears on Oct 20. Charles Richard-Hamelin, a Canadian who won the silver medal in the 2015 International Chopin Piano Competition, will perform on Nov 10; and Wei Luo, a 2018 Gilmore Young Artist, closes the series on Jan 19.

Renee Fleming - Andrew Eccles, DECCA; Evgeny Kissin - Andrew Sebastian Hãnel

On Wednesday, April 15, 2020 in Chenery Auditorium, two classical music stars - American soprano Renee Fleming and Russian-born pianist Evgeny Kissin - will perform a program of songs and solo pieces as part of a handful of appearances in the United States, including stops at Carnegie Hall in New York and the Symphony Center of Chicago. Pierre Van Der Westhuizen, the executive director of the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, talks about the special qualities that made each performer a legend in classical music, and share some of the behind-the-scenes preparation that his organization carries out to help the artists perform at their best.

Tickets for this event will be made available to Gilmore Keyboard Festival donors on Nov 3, 2019, and to the general public in January, 2020.


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