The Piano Man
Dec 30, 2011 08:54AM, Published by Style, Categories: In Print
Photo by Dante Fontana
Jeffrey Siegel began playing the piano at age five; a decade later he realized it was not just a passion, but also his calling.
“I made my debut when I was 15 as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony, and it gave me such a high that it sort of determined my path,” Siegel explains.
Siegel is a very unique musician, performing what he calls “Keyboard Conversations,” in which he explains the story behind the music he plays. Siegel shares, “I talk at my concerts because I want to make it accessible and inviting for people who don’t normally go to concerts, as well as for the experts who want their listening to be more enriched.” Three Stages Executive Director Dave Pier says, “This is actually a really good setting to watch Jeffrey and experience Keyboard Conversations, because it is an intimate venue and what he’s doing is very intimate; he’s telling you all sorts of intricacies of the music, just as if you are sitting in his living room.”
On January 14, February 22 and May 19 of this year, Siegel will return to Three Stages at Folsom Lake College to perform more of his revered Keyboard Conversations. Every show features a different composer or composers – charming masterpieces of Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky; romance-inspired music by Franz Liszt; and soaring melodies of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff – making it a great opportunity to see a myriad of musical styles in a simplistic format.
Siegel believes that now, more than ever before, we need classical music in our lives. “We are living today and particularly with this generation in the most impersonal, computerized, robotic Internet society, and what great music has to offer to a thinking, feeling person is more necessary now than ever before,” Siegel says. “The concentration span is much shorter. We belong to what I call, and I’m guilty of this too, the ‘channel changing generation.’ Listening to a piece of music, where the composer takes you on a real trip with lots of things happening, is an almost unnatural thing today.”
Siegel believes the musician needs to be just as committed as the listener. He says the performer must dedicate himself/herself to making classical music relevant to today’s society, which is why he chooses to speak informally about composers’ lives at the time they created their famous works, and intermingles the dialogue with his live rendition of their music. By adding a layer of free flowing conversation, speaking to both novices and experienced patrons, Siegel takes his show to a level that is even better than entertaining; it’s thought provoking.