Author Archives: PJ Ottenritter

Clarissa Bevilacqua

International Performing Artist Clarissa Bevilacqua will perform a Solo Violin Concert at Catholic University of America’s Ward Hall on Saturday, September 24th, 2022 at 4pm.

All are invited to join us we welcome Clarissa back to the United States with a very special one day concert engagement before she returns to her performance schedule overseas.

The event is free, sponsored by Jordan Kitt’s Music and the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama and Art, and will feature Clarissa’s extraordinary talents in a unique setting on campus.

Clarissa debuted at the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago in front of ten thousand people when she was nine years old. Since then, she has performed solo recitals and concerto engagements at venues throughout North America and Europe.

Recent and upcoming soloist performances include the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Cape Symphony, Orchestra della Toscana, Orchestra Filarmonica di Benevento, Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, Orchestra UniMi, El Sistema Orchestra, and the Salzburger Orchester Solisten.

Get more information or RSVP for this event here!

Clarissa at the International Mozart Competition in Salzburg

Harry Potter Cristofori Piano

Cristofori takes the stage at Merriweather with the BSO for the Music of Harry Potter !

A Cristofori CRG62L Full Grand was chosen for the recent performance of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ in Columbia, MD.

Ron Spigelman, Conductor, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra took the stage at Merriweather Post Pavilion for a special evening of music and magic to perform John William’s enchanting score for a spellbound audience.

For more information about this piano, visit https://cristofori.com, or find out more about events at Merriweather Here!

The Yamaha CFX takes the stage at the Washington International Piano Festival

Jordan Kitt’s extraordinary Yamaha CFX Concert Grand Piano took the stage multiple times during this week’s Washington International Piano Festival, going on now through August 6th in the nation’s capital.

The CFX is the centerpiece of Yamaha’s premier concert performance series, and Jordan Kitt’s was the proud provider of the instrument to the festival, as well as the first piano retailer nationally to sell and deliver one to a proud new owner.

More about these rare and amazing instruments can be found here, and for more information or tickets to the WIPF, visit here!

Frederic Chiu

JKM Master Technician Robin Olson on our friend Frederic Chiu

A nice article by Robin Olson in the recent Piano Technician’s Guild Foundation Focus Newsletter on our friend and Yamaha Artist Frederic Chiu

Frederic Chiu, featured pianist at the 2022 PTG Convention and Institute.

Yes, you read that correctly. This summer the Annual Convention and Institute will feature well-known pianist and educator Frederic Chiu participating in several activities. Besides being an excellent pianist, Mr. Chiu enjoys talking about technical aspects of piano work with piano students and piano technicians. This year’s Foundation Concert on Wednesday night will feature Chiu performing an interactive concert program called “Classical Smackdown: Heart and Soul, with music of Debussy and Prokofiev.” This concert will prove to be a fun way to look at classical piano music, and the audience will be able to vote for their favorite composer. Prior to the concert on Wednesday there will be a special fourth-period class called “A Master Class in Concert Prep.” It will be a panel discussion moderated by Eric Johnson, RPT, with four experienced masters in the concert field: Kathy Smith, RPT, Steve Brady, RPT, Ferdinand Braeu, and Frederick Chiu. Chiu and Braeu will be able to give us a firsthand account of their work together as they will have completed their preparation for the Foundation concert that
evening. An interesting fact is that the piano Chiu will be playing is a Bösendorfer 280VC
concert grand, and it will be the first time he has ever performed on a Bosendorfer VC.
The evolution of this idea began at Lancaster, when at the end of a class on concert
preparation, Eric Johnson treated us to a phone call with pianist Garrick Ohlsson, who talked about his experience performing at different venues and how a well-prepared piano is essential for a good performance. That was my first year on the institute committee, and I decided then that when I became director, I would create a similar class with a well-known pianist in attendance. And as long as we would be getting a concert pianist to come to the convention, I thought, why not have him play a concert? Then in Tucson, Institute Director Douglas Laing, who used a theme related to historical instruments, had a special Foundation concert with pianist Malcom Bilson performing on several historic fortepianos. This set a precedent for what I believe to be an institute theme-related concert on the first night of the institute. Since my theme
for this year is based on the idea that every technician can learn from concert tuning experiences, I found that selecting Frederic Chiu to perform a concert and participate in a class was fitting. Mr. Chiu has written articles and given lectures at other organizations on various aspects of piano technology and how they relate to pianists. The art of communicating with a pianist is an essential skill for all technicians, whether they are on the concert stage, at a teacher’s studio, or at the home of a serious pianist. Knowing how a pianist thinks about a piano and what we can do to facilitate that relationship will make us better technicians with happier clients. I also want to mention and thank Yamaha Corporation for providing the wonderful Bösendorfer VC and the services of Mr. Ferdinand Braeu from the Vienna Bösendorfer factory. Mr. Braeu started working in the factory in 1978 and has been a concert technician, technical teacher, manager, and director in the fields of manufacturing, product development, and artist relations. He has worked with artists such as Sir Andras Schiff, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Alfred
Brendl, Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea, and many others. His experience working with these artists and his hand in the development of the VC make him the perfect choice to be part of this special concert. For many of us, this will be our first opportunity to hear the fantastic Bösendorfer VC 280 “up close and personal.” As piano technicians, we go to piano concerts as much to hear the piano as we go to hear a particular pianist. So here is another good reason to make the trip to California this summer!
In addition to the Wednesday activities, Frederic Chiu will be part of a Disklavier
Presentation at Friday night’s Yamaha Party. On Thursday, Mr. Chiu will assist Steve Brady in a special class called “What Difference Does It Make?” In this class Steve will demonstrate, with the help of Frederic’s playing, how subtle changes to a piano can have a big effect on the feel and sound of the piano.

I want to thank the PTG Foundation for their generous financial contribution to this
event, and RPTs Fred Sturm and Douglas Laing for their enthusiastic support of this idea. Many thanks to Barbara Cassaday for her efforts in working on all the details to arrange for the funding for this event. I also want to thank David Durben, RPT, of Yamaha Corp. for his enthusiasm with the project and his help in making this a reality.
I hope this article will give you another reason to want to attend the 2022 PTG
Convention and Technical Institute this summer. The institute committee has created an excellent array of classes and instructors covering all aspects of piano service.

June 22 Foundation Focus
PTG Anaheim 2022 Artist in Residence
By Robin Olson, RPT, 2022 Institute Director

Eastern Shore

Steinway dedication at Eastern Shore Chapel

Jordan Kitt’s was pleased to provide the new piano to Eastern Shore Chapel in Virginia Beach.

The recently acquired Steinway model B will be dedicated in the sanctuary of Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church, Virginia Beach.

Hampton Virginia native, Donald Lee, III, will share his gifts and talents on Sunday, July 31. He will share a musical offering in our 10:30 a.m. worship service, and
he will present a 90-minute concert at 4:00 p.m. that afternoon.

Please save the date, and plan to spend your morning in worship followed by a
lovely afternoon concert in our beautiful worship space listening to classical and
sacred piano selections.

Mr. Lee currently serves as the pianist / conductor for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
He is an alumnus of James Madison University and the University of Cincinnati
College-Conservatory of Music. He is also a proud alumnus of the school and
church music programs he experienced as a child and youth.

The dedication will take place at:

Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church
2020 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach, Virginia
July 31, 2022, 4:00 PM

Yamaha CFX Grand

The Yamaha CFX Concert Grand at the 2022 NAMM Show

Here is some brief video from the 2022 NAMM show of the Yamaha Premium CFX Series Grand, the hand-crafted, top-of-the-line grand piano from this storied Japanese piano maker.

The Yamaha CFX 9′ Concert Grand, now in its second generation that was recently unveiled at the international music industry’s annual trade show in Annaheim, CA, is the culmination of nearly 20 years of research & development and 30 prototypes for collecting artist feedback has resulted in this world-class concert instrument.

Jordan Kitt’s Music was proud to be the first company in America to deliver a Yamaha CFX to a performance venue near the nation’s capital.

For more information about the Yamaha CFX, visit here!

The 2022 Washington International Piano Festival is coming!

The 12th edition of the Washington International Piano Festival is coming from July 30 – August 6 at the Rome School of Music at Catholic University of America.

It’s a week of immersive piano experience from Artistic Director Nikita Fitenko featuring artists such as Brian Ganz, Paul Bratcher, Alexander Tutunov, Yoshio Hamano and Marie Kiyone, Katerina Zaitseva, Michael Bulychev-Okser, Misha Tumanov & Others

For more information, visit washingtonpianofest.com

Workhouse

Jordan Kitt’s Music partners with the new Workhouse Arts Center

potomaclocal.com

Enrollment for new music program at Workhouse Arts to begin


 

Workhouse Arts Foundation and Jordan Kitt’s Music partnered for a new music education program.

The partnership will provide convenient access to both private lessons and group classes for residents of Fairfax County and Prince William County. Classes will be initially held in existing studios at the Workhouse at 9518 Workhouse Way in Lorton.

“Workhouse is thrilled to partner with Jordan Kitt’s Music to bring world-class music education to Fairfax County, South Fairfax County, and Prince William County. This collaboration will elevate the independently-scheduled lessons and classes previously offered at the Workhouse Arts Center campus” said Leon Scioscia, president, and CEO of Workhouse Arts Foundation.

“We’re delighted to announce this collaboration between Jordan Kitt’s Music and Workhouse Arts Center. We feel strongly that our expertise and experience in the music education space is a perfect match with the Workhouse mission to provide high-quality arts education and community engagement,” said Jordan Kitt’s President and CEO Chris Syllaba.

Enrollment for the new courses is expected to begin this summer with classes beginning in September.

Workhouse Arts Center (Workhouse) is housed in the former Workhouse prison facility of the DC Correctional Complex in Lorton that opened in 1910. After its closure in 2001, its founders, in cooperation with Fairfax County leadership, transformed the site into a community arts center where people could learn about and participate in art-making; be inspired by the region’s and nation’s best artists; experience visual and performing arts talent; and come together for festivals and community building.

Jordan Kitt’s Music was founded in 1912 and, this year celebrates 110 years in business. The first store was located at 13th and G Streets NW, Washington, D.C., just down the street from the White House.

Find out more here!

Key Figure: The Piano Takes Center Stage

Music history is rife with piano-playing frontpeople of all kinds. There is, of course, the tradition of pianist singer-songwriters like Carole King, Billy Joel, and Fiona Apple. At the same time, the piano is the main instrument of arena act vocalists like Chris Martin of Coldplay and Queen’s Freddie Mercury. All these artists take advantage of their piano prowess to craft their songs. Yet they also command the spotlight because of their skills on the keys. Now, there’s a new generation carrying the torch, bringing the legacy of piano-playing frontpeople into new genres and formats.

The Piano Path

For many young people, the piano serves as an entry point into music. Its tactile, intuitive layout—from the lowest note to the highest without pitch repetition—make it a perfect first instrument. However, the piano’s familiarity sometimes overshadows its depth. This is why virtuosos who can multi-task on piano and vocals continue to dazzle audiences. Seasoned performers like Elton John and Tori Amos can croon effortlessly while pounding out a complex piano pattern.

Creating a Moment

Still, a frontperson needn’t sit behind the piano for an entire set. A well-placed piano number can create a standout moment in a live show. These dynamics give singers the freedom to abandon the center microphone and increase impact. For example, two-time GRAMMY-winning R&B artist H.E.R. performed her ballad “Sometimes” using the Roland Facet Grand Piano at the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards®. The sight of H.E.R. emerging from behind the prototype Facet to launch into a passionate guitar solo added to the show’s dramatic flair.

The Leader of the Band

And it’s not only solo artists who gravitate to the piano. The appeal of the piano-playing frontperson crosses all stylistic lines. Witness the way Josh Katz of hard-rocking hitmakers Badflower shifts from guitar to a Roland GP-609 grand for spooky flourishes on their song “Cry.” 

In this particular case, the instrument’s imposing presence onstage gives the tune an added sense of emotional gravitas. During a 2021 livestream, Katz performed from the piano bench while the rest of Badflower set the dark mood around him. It’s an intense, compelling performance—and at its heart is the piano.

Chance Inspiration

For Greyson Chance, there was always a lot of Ray Charles playing in his house growing up. At a young age, Chance went viral playing the piano and garnered millions of streams and music video views. He first began to plunk around on those 88 keys at four years of age.

He insists his family didn’t push him to play; it was something he wanted to do. His first memories include awe and astonishment for the instrument—and Ray Charles himself. Chance saw in him an artist who sat behind the piano to play, write, and perform his way to becoming one of the most important musicians ever.

While some associate the frontperson role with singers or guitar players, piano players have a long history as bandleaders. That legacy made an impression on Chance as a child. Inspired by Ray Charles, Chance decided to become a piano-playing frontperson.  

A Place of His Own

As Chance puts it, the stage is his happy place, a safe zone in a world that can otherwise feel chaotic and confusing. When Chance is on stage, singing and playing piano, he feels a responsibility to be proficient, entertaining, and welcoming. An eclectic performer, Chance plays several piano models including the RD-88RD-2000, and GP609 grand, but is partial to the LX708 upright. 

“In the moments of the set when I’m just playing the piano, there is a feeling of rootedness for me.”
-Greyson Chance

“I feel the most at home and the most in control when I am on stage,” Chance says. “It’s as if my entire world falls out of focus and I can be the most present with myself and my fans for that hour and a half.” The experience grounds him. “In the moments of the set when I’m just playing the piano, there is a feeling of rootedness for me,” he shares. “It feels as if I am letting the crowd into my own home, to let them watch the process of it all.”

Gaga for Gaga

At 24, the Oklahoma-born Chance has an innate connection to both his art and his audience. Still, he’s always looked to others for bolstering. First, it was Charles, and other players like him, as he grew up. Later, he discovered his all-time fave, the piano-playing Lady Gaga. He covered her song “Paparazzi” as a young teenager. This led to his online fame, including retweets from celebs like Ryan Seacrest, Ashton Kutcher, and Ellen DeGeneres. 

“Even at a young age, I remember seeing something that was intentional,” Chance says. “Everything that Gaga does has a purpose and a greater vision behind it, and that is something that I now apply to my own art. Every artist should study her, she’s perhaps the best living artist on the planet.”

One FrontpersonMany Keys

About 2,000 miles from Oklahoma, Seattle-based artist, Julia Massey, fronts her Emerald City band, Warren Dunes. The group has performed live on the famed radio station KEXP and enjoyed features in national magazines. Warren Dunes’ songs blend several melodies simultaneously, many of which emanate from Massey’s two keyboards. As the frontwoman, Massey sings, plays synth bass and traditional electric piano all at once, both arms outstretched. 

“Because I’ve always had the piano as my main instrument, I never wondered if it was strange that I was leading projects behind a keyboard.”
-Julia Massey

For Massey, it was never odd to front a band as a keyboardist or piano player. “Because I’ve always had the piano as my main instrument, I never wondered if it was strange that I was leading projects behind a keyboard,” Massey admits. “Players like Tori Amos and Elton John lodged in my brain that piano players could also be pop stars, but I was never conscious of it. It’s always felt like, ‘This is the instrument that feels most natural to me, so let’s stick with it.’”

One player, in particular, left a strong impression. “I was specifically inspired to play more than one instrument by a Medeski, Martin, and Wood show I attended years ago,” Massey says. “John Medeski was surrounded by a bazillion keyboards. Although he didn’t sing, his performance bewitched me.” Her keyboard collection, including her beloved JUNO-DS synthesizer, speaks to Medeski’s influence. 

Piano in the DNA

For Chance, his rise to success was the result of others seeing what he did, valuing it, and sharing it. The praise he received was a testament to his artistry. It also revealed that music fans appreciate piano-playing singers. Perhaps it’s in human DNA. Before mics and amps, distortion pedals, and Elvis Presley shaking his hips, people gathered around the family piano. 

For a rising star like Chance, his career as a piano-playing singer is now surpassing his childhood dreams. “My life changed overnight,” says Chance. “I took my first plane to Los Angeles from Oklahoma after the video went viral,” he recalls. “Within weeks, I was in a studio signed to a major label. 12 years later it all feels like a blur.”

“Writing music and performing is the only way I know how to get through my own life.”
-Greyson Chance

Future music fans may look to Chance’s work with the same reverence he had for Ray Charles and the great Lady Gaga. “Writing music and performing is the only way I know how to get through my own life,” Chance says. “It’s the only consistent roadmap I have, and at this point, I will always stick to it.”

Like piano-playing frontpeople before him, Chance uses the 88 keys to connect with audience members and inspire others. He’s not alone. With artists like himself, Massey, Badflower, H.E.R., and others out there, the cultural resonance and relevance of the piano will continue to thrive. 

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