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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

Guided by improvisation, Donal Fox will "Confound the Genre Police" at the Gilmore Piano Festival

Donal Fox
Lou Jones
Donal Fox

Boston-based pianist, composer and improviser Donal Fox says his training as a composer made him curious to "take things apart" and look at music from different angles — which leads to improvisation and originality. He'll perform a program called Confounding the Genre Police at 12 pm on Thursday, May 12 at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre as part of the Gilmore Piano Festival. Fox spoke about it with Cara Lieurance.

Classically trained from a young age but with an unquenchable thirst for improvisation, Fox says one of his mentors was the leader of the New England Conservatory of Music, Gunther Schuller. Schuller required jazz students to learn Mozart and classical students to learn Charlie Parker. Improvisation was the classical way in Beethoven's time, says Fox. He loves that jazz audiences may not know about Renaissance composers John Dowland and Orlando Gibbons, but they dig his jazz settings of their music.

As for his program, Fox suggest going in with open ears and leaving the printed program closed. He'll be focusing on making good music of all kinds.

Cara Lieurance is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered on 1021 WMUK and covers local arts & culture on Let's Hear It on 89.9 Classical WMUK weekday mornings at 10 - 11 am.
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