FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 30, 2022
MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Passey | [email protected] | 480-874-4626
After 44 Years, Keyboard Conversations Still Helping Arizonans to Love Classical Music
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Watching Jeffrey Siegel’s Keyboard Conversations® is like going to a lecture from your favorite professor, except this classical music historian also provides captivating entertainment.
That’s the magic of Keyboard Conversations, a series of concerts plus commentary that Siegel has presented at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for 43 consective years. The latest series — with performances on Dec. 13, Jan. 17, Feb. 21 and March 14 — will mark Siegel’s 44th season at the center.
“Year after year, Jeffrey fascinates and educates audiences with the stories of composers and the beauty of classical music, and we are honored to continue this special, decades-long partnership,” said Abbey Mesmer, director of programming at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.
Siegel has been doing Keyboard Conversations even longer than his four-plus decades in Scottsdale. In his native Chicago, Siegel will mark his 54th season of Keyboard Conversations.
What keeps audience members returning year after year? Perhaps it’s the format, uncommon for classical concert halls, that prominently features remarks from the performer. There’s plenty of gorgeous music too, but Siegel presents it in a way that enables audience members to appreciate it even more. New listeners discover an informal, entertaining and instantly accessible introduction to the vast repertoire of the piano and to classical music, in general. Seasoned music lovers discover an enriched, more focused listening experience.
The format is similar from show to show. Siegel briefly introduces the theme of the show, followed by some remarks about the first piece. Then, he sits at the piano and begins to play while continuing his lecture, noting details he wants audience members to listen for when he plays the piece through in full. Finally, when the audience is prepared with educated ears, Siegel plays through the full piece, sparking excitement in the listeners when they recognize certain elements from his remarks.
The process repeats for additional pieces at each show, leading to a brisk question-and-answer session following the performance. Throughout it all, from the opening remarks to the audience’s answered questions, Siegel’s encylopedic knowledge of classical music, professional charisma and trademark wit are all on display.
Scottsdale audiences have the added bonus of a camera positioned directly above Siegel’s keyboard so you can watch Siegel’s hands dance across the keys.
This season’s series includes four unique shows: “American Pianistic Treasures” (Dec. 13), “Immortal Impromptus” (Jan. 17), “Musical Valentines” (Feb. 21) and “Mozart and Friends: Beethoven and Haydn” (March 14).
“American Pianistic Treasures” is a rousing program of American musical favorites, including George Gershwin’s rarely heard solo piano version of “Rhapsody in Blue,” Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” and an unpublished piano work of Leonard Bernstein. Then, moving into 2023, “Immortal Impromptus” will feature the works of Chopin and Schubert.
While it will be a week past Valentine’s Day, audience members are still sure to find a little something sweet with “Musical Valentines” as Siegel waxes romantic with the love-inspired music of Liszt, Chopin, Schumann and Brahms. And the last show of the season, March’s “Mozart and Friends” explores the connections between the legend and his equally famous contemporaries Beethoven and Haydn.
“These are concerts with commentary, in which every musical masterpiece is briefly introduced and then performed,” Siegel said. “Bring the joy of great music into your life: attend Keyboard Conversations!”
Though he’s best known for his Keyboard Conversations, Siegel has been a soloist with the world’s great orchestras, from London, Berlin and Moscow to New York City, Boston and Chicago. He has appeared in radio interviews on classical music stations across the United States and has been a frequent guest on the popular BBC program “In Tune in the United Kingdom.”
“Keyboard Conversations: Piano Treasures,” a Time Life production, has been broadcast by PBS to more than 150 cities nationwide while Siegel’s recording of Gershwin’s complete works for piano and orchestra, with Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony, continues to be a best seller.
All Keyboard Conversations performances take place at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. 2nd St., Scottsdale, Arizona. Tickets are $25 to 45. Visit ScottsdalePerformingArts.org/events or call Scottsdale Arts Guest Services at 480-499-TKTS (8587) for more information.
Scottsdale Arts is continually striving to increase our accessibility offerings to provide enriching arts opportunities for everyone in the community. For more information about services we offer, please visit ScottsdalePerformingArts.org/visit/accessibility.
Keyboard Conversations with Jeffrey Siegel is sponsored by the Dr. David and Joan Goldfarb Trust.