For the most recent Sky Concert we hosted at the Bowes Music Center, just upstairs from our sister station KDFC in San Francisco, Lara Downes welcomed pianist Jeremy Denk for a conversation about, and music by “American Pioneers.”
Among them, Charles Ives, who became a successful executive in the insurance business, after his early musical efforts proved to be a bit too ahead of their time. Denk plays “The Alcotts” movement from his Concord Sonata, by way of introduction to Ives’ style of pulling together bits and pieces of familiar tunes and reframing them to make something entirely new.
We’ll also hear a performance of “The Battle of Manassas,” a virtuosic piece written (and originally performed by) Blind Tom Wiggins, an autistic and enslaved pianist and composer from the late 19th Century. It also wove together a series of familiar and patriotic tunes depicting the armies coming together to fight in the Civil War.
Lara and Jeremy Denk wrap up the performance playing a bit of music by Samuel Barber, a pas de deux from Souvenirs (Ballet Suite) for four hands one piano.