The showstopper will be the moment when Willis Delony plays “Tiger Rag” on the Steinway.
But this won’t be just any version of “Tiger Rag,” played on just any Steinway.
“It will be his transcript of Art Tatum’s performance of ‘Tiger Rag,’” Stephen Beck said. “It’s difficult, and it’s amazing. That, alone, will be worth the ticket price.”
Now imagine the sounds of Art Tatum emerging from a mass of brilliant color that forms the background for blue dogs, and the experience doesn’t exactly become surreal. But it does bear a sense of otherworldliness, to say the least.
That’s what happens when a musician performs on the Rodrigue Steinway, the piano painted by Louisiana’s artist laureate in support of the LSU School of Music’s scholarship fundraising efforts.
The piano made its debut on Nov. 10, 2012, at the Tiger Athletic Foundation pre-game party preceding the LSU-Mississippi State football game. Now it will make its official premiere at an official LSU School of Music event when the school stages its annual Concert Spectacular on Friday, Feb. 1, in the LSU Union Theater.
The concert offers nonstop music by vocal and instrumental soloists, ensembles and groups from throughout the School of Music. Musicians will be stationed in all parts of the theater, which accounts for the show’s continuous flow.
The audience, as always, will be asked to hold its applause until the end.
And among these performers will be Delony, Aloysia Barineau Professor of Keyboard Studies and Professor of Jazz Studies, playing Art Tatum’s version of “Tiger Rag,” which, of course, is one of LSU’s fight songs.
Now, when thinking about it, it’s inaccurate to label his performance a showstopper, since this show doesn’t stop.
“It’s the great thing about this show,” Beck said. “And it’s fun for us in the School of Music, because it’s probably the only time when we’re all together in one place and we can stop and listen to what everyone else in the school is doing.”
Beck is the School of Music’s director, as well as the Haymon Professor of Composition and Computer Music. He also directs the Laptop Orchestra of Louisiana, which will perform in the concert.
Genres in this concert will range from classical to jazz, choirs to operatic tenors, and the musical theater class’ dancing and singing troupe.
This year’s concert will feature music by the LSU Symphony Orchestra, the internationally acclaimed A Cappella Choir, Schola Cantorum, the LSU Jazz Ensemble, the LSU Wind Ensemble and Hamiruge, the LSU Percussion Ensemble.
“It’s our fundraiser for the LSU School of Music, and all the proceeds will benefit our scholarship fund,” Beck said. “We want to attract the best students to our program, and we need scholarships to do that.”
Still, as the school’s new director, Beck wants to do more.
“As a great music program, we want to produce good musicians and music educators,” he said. “But we also want to produce music advocates and music lovers. We need people to go out and talk about why music is important and advocate for us.”
And Concert Spectacular is a great first step, for it offers a something for everyone.
What’s not to love?