August 8, 2022

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When Neighborhood Concert events Introduced Don Shirley to Small Cities

Performers, too, had gripes. The pianist Seymour Bernstein, who toured with a trio within the Nineteen Fifties, nonetheless remembers the paltry pay, poor acoustics, overheated resort rooms, treacherous journey and clueless locals who, at receptions after the concert events, bored them with small discuss and bogarted the canapés. Then there have been the “nightmarishly poor pianos,” usually shared with highschool bands. When he got here to Putnam, the pianist Malcolm Frager introduced, to the mortification of my mom and her colleagues, that he was dropping an emphatic piece by Prokofiev for one thing higher suited to the rickety native piano. (My mom promptly started the drive that procured one thing sturdier — “a secondhand Baldwin that was nearly first charge,” as she put it.)

Lorin Hollander, who’s now 78, was a baby prodigy when he started taking part in for Neighborhood Concert events in 1958 at age 14; he has fonder recollections of this system. “A few of my most emotional, most liberating, most daring, most inventive, most — I’ll use the phrase ‘impressed’ — performances passed off in such a milieu the place I didn’t must concern myself with ‘what are the critics going to say?’ or individuals who had heard these items 50 instances,” he recalled.

“I gave my all at each live performance and didn’t suppose, ‘Effectively, it is a small city, I can simply merely do that,’” he mentioned. “I carried out no otherwise for the viewers in Putnam than I did for the viewers in Carnegie Corridor.”

The after-parties at our dwelling started when my mom discovered to her horror that one other pianist, Eugene Listing (who had performed for Churchill, Truman and Stalin at Potsdam), had been noticed following his efficiency consuming forlornly by himself at certainly one of Putnam’s greasier spoons. From then on, all the time with my physician father in tow (“So that they wouldn’t suppose I used to be a groupie or designing girl or one thing”), she’d head backstage at intermission to ask the performers whether or not they want some nourishment and conviviality as soon as their labors have been accomplished. Hungry, drained and possibly a bit lonely, they normally accepted.

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