THE KEYS CONCERT SERIES ENDS WITH A FUSION OF CLASSICAL AND POPULAR MUSIC

The final concert of the Florida Keys Concert Association (FLKCA) was dedicated to the memory of Bill Key, a great philanthropist and a major benefactor of the association. Four exceptional and talented musicians played tunes from South America mixed with classical compositions from Nordic music.

Pianists Michael Brown and Orion Weiss, cellist Nicholas Canellakis and percussionist Ian David Rosenbaum have created a unique quartet to play American classical music infused with jazz and folk. Le Voyage was a concert across continents, mixing musical genres and the complexity of human feelings.

The concert opened with the composition by Aaron Copland (1900-1990) “El Salon Mexico for Solo Piano” and ended with “Cuba Overture for Piano, Four Hands and Percussion” by George Gershwin. On his first visit to Mexico, Copland went to a dance hall in Mexico City and was struck by the spirit of the place. After visiting Mexico several times from 1932 to 1936, Copland wrote “El Salon Mexico”, a symphonic composition based on four Mexican airs.

The second piece was “Three Meditation from Mass” by Leonard Bernstein and was arranged for cello, piano and percussion. The composition was commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy for the grand opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, on September 8, 1971. The mass is “primarily a dramatic staging…reflecting reactions, doubts, the protests and questions – positive and negative – of all of us who witness and perceive this ritual” (Leonard Bernstein, Composer’s Note).

“They seem so talented and focused. You can see it on their faces. You can hear his breathing (Canellakis, cello) when he gets to a difficult or important part. You can hear high-pitched breathing,” said Jim Kylis, one of the concertgoers.

Listening to “Souvenirs for piano four hands” by Samuel Barber lightened the mood of the audience. “For a professional pianist, it’s sometimes a bit lonely when practicing and traveling,” Weiss said. “So it’s very pleasant to play the piano with four hands. Four hands on the same piano, it’s very intimate to share space and keys. For those who don’t like it, it could be the worst experience in the world. It’s a chance to dance together, even if you’re not a dancer.

South American composers dominated the second half of the concert. Two of Scott Joplin’s compositions put the audience in the mood, notably his tunes “The Ragtime Dance”. The concert ended with “Cuban Overture for Piano, Four Hands and Percussion” by George Gershwin. The composition was originally called Rumba and was written after Gershwin’s two-week vacation in Havana in 1932.

The Florida Keys Concert Association has completed its 2022 concert series of six very different concerts, all very special in their own way. Each concert was interpreted by refined and very talented musicians. The 2023 season will start mid-January. As usual, the FKCA plans to produce six concerts of two productions. The first production of each concert will be played on Monday at Marathon High School. The second production of each concert will be played Tuesdays at Coral Shores High School.

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