Announcing: Basically Beethoven Festival-in-Place

In-person concerts move online for 40-year-old music series

Fine Arts Chamber Players announces its flagship series, Basically Beethoven Festival, will not be staged live in July 2020. This year, FACP will record and share Festival performances for the Basically Beethoven Festival-in-Place. Musicians will be recorded in a concert setting and the footage will premiere on FACP’s YouTube channel at the scheduled concert times: July 12, July 19, and July 26 at 2:30 p.m. 

“Because of public health concerns, the logistics to conduct public concerts this summer were daunting if not insurmountable for an organization of our size,” explained FACP Executive Director Emily Guthrie. “I will miss greeting our long-time supporters and new audience members in person. Typically, Festival concerts have an audience of over 500 people. That’s just not possible this summer.”

“A silver lining to moving online,” FACP Board President Anne Witherspoon added, “is that now our performances can be shared with family and friends outside of North Texas. And patrons will have the ability to watch the concerts at their convenience and visit the performances for repeated viewings. FACP is excited to share our vision with our audience, even if the circumstances have changed.”

“In a time where we are reeling from a pandemic, arts events have been cancelled out of necessity,” Basically Beethoven Festival Director Alex McDonald said. “And with the things that trouble us that go even deeper: from sickness to systemic racism, from lost jobs to chronic fear, this is a difficult time to have a festival. However, we at Fine Arts Chamber Players feel that music matters as much as ever. We hope that the first-ever Festival-in-Place does its part to restore and soothe us.” 

He continued, “Festival programming centers around Beethoven’s composition Heiliger Dankgesang which loosely translates as ‘song of Thanksgiving…for recovery from a recent illness.’ Since 2020 is also the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, we wanted to organize our concerts according to styles that preceded Beethoven, a celebration of Beethoven himself, and an exploration of music after Beethoven.”

Each Festival concert begins with a Rising Star Recital highlighting exceptional student musicians from the area, and continues with a Feature Performance, showcasing professionals of the highest caliber. FACP never charges admission for its programs. Donations can be made online: www.fineartschamberplayers.org/donate


July 12: Bach to Beethoven

Rising Star Regina Lin, piano, performs works by Joseph Haydn, Beethoven’s teacher; and Franz Liszt, a composer who felt Beethoven paved the way for future musicians. For the Feature Performance, cellists Andrés Díaz (SMU Professor of Cello) and Joseph Kuipers with Karen Abrahamson-Thomas (Waco Symphony Principal Harp) move from the Baroque to Beethoven’s era through the works of Bach, Boccherini, Maria Theresia von Paradis, and Paganini.

July 19: Beethoven, Basically

For the Rising Star Recital, violinist Nikki Nagavi will be joined by pianist Kyle Orth for Beethoven’s sublime “Spring” sonata, op. 24. Then, featured artists Lucas Aleman (Dallas Symphony violin), Theodore Harvey (DSO Associate Principal Cello), and Festival Director Alex McDonald, piano, will present the “Archduke” trio, op. 97. The concert concludes with Aleman and Harvey joining Grace Kang Wollett (Dallas Opera violin) and Rachel Li McDonald, viola, to perform the sublime middle movement of quartet op. 132, Heiliger Dankgesang (“Holy Song of Thanksgiving for recovery from a recent illness”).

July 26: Beethoven and Beyond!

Rising Stars Bryan Han, cello, and Ashley Tauhert, piano, present the final two movements of Rachmaninoff’s cello sonata; then, Featured Performers take the stage to explore works after Beethoven by composers influenced by the artist.


Alternative Programming: Plus One at 1

FACP is introducing a new series to help brighten your week: Plus One at 1! Each Friday at 1:00, we will share duets from FACP performers on our social media channels. This week features flutist Ebonee Thomas, who performed on our October 2019 Hallam Family Concert: French Impressions. She is joined by FACP Artistic Director Emily Levin in an excerpt of Gabriel Fauré‘s Fantasie.

Look closely and you will see these two artists recorded their segments separately, while sheltering in place at their homes!

We hope the music brings you joy until we can be together in person again. In the meantime, make sure you are on our mailing list and follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Cancellation notice: March 28, 2020

In keeping with the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines, our next Hallam Family Concert, Musica on March 28, has been cancelled. Our host, the Dallas Museum of Art, has cancelled all special events and activities through April 3.

We are disappointed to miss the opportunity to share with you the considerable talent of Elmer Churampi, DSO trumpet; Pepe Valdez, guitar; and Augusto Longas Garcia, percussion. However, we understand the DMA’s decision and care about the health and safety of our audience.

Click here for the CDC’s recommendations. The DMA’s statement can be found here. We will keep you informed about any future changes to our season. If you are on social media, please follow Fine Arts Chamber Players on FacebookTwitter, and/or Instagram.


Now Hear This: an Interview with Erin Hannigan

If you have attended a performance at the Dallas Symphony, you have heard Erin Hannigan: if not a solo line within a major work, then at the very least you have heard the clarion call of her oboe sailing above the din calling the players to tune. Join us for an afternoon of oboe-centric works by British composers on Saturday, February 29 at English Sentiment, a Hallam Family Concert.

Erin Hannigan, Principal Oboe of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra

What piece on the program are you most excited about? What should we listen for?    I’m really excited to perform the Bliss Oboe Quintet for the first time! All of the pieces on the program are major staples of the oboe repertoire, but the Bliss seems to be performed less often than the Bax or the Britten. The Bliss is full of memorable tunes: everything from the most beautiful and lyrical theme to an Irish jig!

Is chamber music for oboe a big part of the repertoire?    The oboe has been around historically since Bach’s time, the 1600s, so there is a LOT of music written for it. I always consider myself lucky to have repertoire that spans the ages, both orchestral and chamber!

How old were you when you started playing oboe? Why did you choose it?    I started playing the oboe when I was 7 years old; just before third grade. I later found out that this its highly unusual to start on the oboe, and that playing it too soon disrupts brain development due to back pressure! I seem to have turned out ok, I think…When I was trying to decide which instrument to play my dad mentioned his love of the oboe, so I looked it up in the dictionary. It looked like a challenge, so I decided that was what I would do!

What’s it like having a professional music career in Dallas?    Dallas is an amazing place to have a career in the Arts. I have felt embraced through my Symphony position, but I have also felt so much support behind my community outreach initiative. Dallas is such a creative and artistic city! Another angle to my professional life is that I’ve been able to maintain a high-powered oboe studio at SMU. Finding a place where one can have truly top-level performing AND teaching is rare. My work here keeps me exceptionally busy, but I’ve been afforded the ability to accept playing opportunities in other places, such as the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, St Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, and others. It’s good to travel to other cities and engage with other orchestras and artists. It keeps me aware and in sync with the artistic world at large!

What type of music did you listen growing up? What do you listen to now?    Growing up I listened only to classical, but now I have a far broader appreciation for all types of music. I can be found listening to everything from Bach to Christina Perri!

Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To play?    Johann Sebastian Bach is my all-around favorite to listen to and to play!

What advice would you give 14-year-old Erin?    If I could rewind time, I would tell myself to worry less and enjoy the process more. That doesn’t mean to work less hard because I feel that’s a necessity, but to stop more often and enjoy the journey.

What advice would you give a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college?    I tell my high school students who express an interest in majoring in music that they need to make sure that they truly love music and the art of playing the oboe. Pursuing music performance is challenging and extremely competitive and everyone, no matter who, will face challenges and disappointments. The love of it is what will carry them through.

What’s your favorite sound?    Ocean waves   Your least favorite sound?    Nails on a chalkboard

When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear?    Bach B Minor Mass


Hallam Family Concerts: Season Announcement

New name, new leadership for new season

Free classical music concert series packs an artistic punch with exciting programming

DALLAS (August 28, 2019) – Fine Arts Chamber Players (FACP) unveils the 2019–2020 season of its free Hallam Family Concert Series at the Dallas Museum of Art: seven virtuosic programs featuring Dallas’s top professional musicians. Emily Levin, Principal Harp of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, serves as Artistic Director of the series. Ms. Levin was appointed in March 2019 after Rogene Russell, FACP’s Co-Founder and Artistic Director, had announced her retirement and an executive search was held.

“In my first season as Artistic Director of the series, I wanted to craft programs that highlight the incredible talent here in Dallas, and feature music that connects to the art, culture, and writing of its time,” Ms. Levin explains. “At each concert, the audience will be able to hear great music performed by great musicians and will also be invited to explore the broader world surrounding each piece.”

The season is varied in instrumentation and musical character. The Hallam Family Concert season, outlined below, features known and obscure works for the harp, oboe, bassoon, trumpet paired with guitar, and groupings of string musicians. FACP is honored to have several preeminent members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and other local ensembles featured throughout the series. 

Hallam Family Concerts, 2019-2020 Season

  • Saturday afternoons: October 5, November 2, January 25, February 29, March 28, April 25, May 9
  • All concerts begin at 3 p.m., doors to the auditorium open at 2:30 p.m.
  • Horchow Auditorium in the Dallas Museum of Art (1717 N. Harwood St., Dallas 75201)
  • FREE. No tickets required. General admission to the DMA is also free. Families with children welcome.

October 5, 2019: FRENCH IMPRESSIONS 

Hallam Concerts Artistic Director Emily Levin is joined by flutist Ebonee Thomas and violist Sarah Kienle in a program of stunningly colorful trios that pay homage to the French Impressionist era of Monet, Debussy, Renoir, and Ravel. The afternoon also includes music by Toru Takemitsu. Of note, the DMA recently re-opened its European art galleries with a reinstallation of treasurers, including masterworks of French Impressionism gifted to the museum by Margaret and Eugene McDermott. FACP’s program will reference the DMA’s collection.

November 2, 2019: WOOD MUSIC

In this concert featuring “wood” instruments, Poulenc’s trio, a quintessential piece for oboe, bassoon, and piano, is paired with two other works for these instruments  by Francaix and living French composer Roger Boutry.

January 25, 2020: TALES OF THE MACABRE

The great American writer Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809. Come celebrate his 210th birthday with an afternoon of his most chilling short stories, dramatically told through music for harp and string quartet alongside Schubert’s eerie masterpiece “Death and the Maiden.” Emily Levin will perform with PLUS Quartet, a string ensemble whose members come from the DSO.

February 29, 2020: ENGLISH SENTIMENT

Experience the lush harmony and beautiful colors of three extraordinary British composers in a musical journey across the pond that showcases the Dallas Symphony’s Principal Oboist, Erin Hannigan, and members of the DSO strings.

March 28, 2020: MUSICA 

Trumpet wunderkind Elmer Churampi is featured in an incredible afternoon of virtuosic and vibrant trumpet and guitar music from his native Peru. Mr. Churampi appears courtesy of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, where he is a member of the trumpet section.

April 25, 2020: A TRAGIC GENIUS

Tchaikovsky’s epic masterpiece for violin, cello, and piano takes center stage this month, in a touching tribute to the teachers of Jolyon Pegis, DSO Associate Principal Cello; and DSO violinist Shu Lee, who performed this same work when they were college students.

May 9, 2020: STARS OF TOMORROW, the Charles Barr Memorial

The Charles Barr Memorial Concert showcases the best and brightest of Dallas young musicians. Don’t miss the next generation of musical virtuosi.


Overview – Fine Arts Chamber Players

  • Hallam Family Concerts: monthly, FREE chamber music concert series on Saturday afternoons, October – May (excluding December); performed in the Horchow Auditorium at the Dallas Museum of Art; 3 p.m.; newly appointed Artistic Director of the series is Emily Levin (pronounced luh-VEEN)
  • Basically Beethoven Festival: FREE chamber music concerts on Sunday afternoons in July at Moody Performance Hall; 2:30 p.m.; the Festival celebrates its 40th season in the summer of 2020; the Basically Beethoven Festival Director is Dr. Alex McDonald
  • Music Education Programs: FREE education programs including Musical Residencies at two Dallas ISD high schools and at an east Dallas charter school; FACP Teaching Artists lead individual and small group lessons in voice, piano, and violin to students with financial need; instruction provided at no cost to students and schools

FACP was founded in 1981 with the FREE Basically Beethoven Festival, which quickly became Dallas’ premier summer chamber music festival. In 1984, FACP began the Bancroft Family Concert series performing in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art. Starting with the 2019-2020 season, that series has been renamed the Hallam Family Concert series under its new sponsorship. FACP also maintains educational programs via musical residencies in select Dallas schools, masterclasses, and a troupe who creates original educational material for school performances. To date, FACP has served more than 250,000 children with education programs and performed quality classical music for over half a million North Texas citizens – all completely free of charge.


Now Hear This: an interview with Margaret Fischer, flute

The 39th annual Basically Beethoven Festival concludes this Sunday, July 28, with an afternoon of music for flute and strings. Local artist Margaret Fischer is a featured performer and she’s participated in this interview for our audience to get an insider’s look at the concert.

When did you start playing the flute? Why did you choose the instrument? Did you learn other instruments?    I started playing the flute when I was 10 in my elementary school’s 5th grade music elective class. The woman who ran the program became my private flute instructor from 6th grade until I started college. Unlike here in Texas, where the kids get to try out instruments under the watchful eye of pros to determine what they’re suited for (I think of it as the “instrument petting zoo”), I was just told to pick one of a bunch of instruments on a table. The flute was the shiniest, so that’s what I chose! Luckily for me, I took to it well. Piano was my first instrument but I only took lessons for less than a year – it was evident that I was never going to be a pianist! I haven’t had any formal training on other instruments but I can play basic guitar chords. 

When did you decide to become a professional musician?    I think I was around 15 years old when I decided that I wanted to pursue music as a career. There was no one magic moment or lightning bolt where everything changed – I just woke up one day and realized that I couldn’t imagine spending my life doing anything else.

Does being a classical musician influence what music you listen to for fun?    Because I’m exposed to so much music for work reasons, sometimes I fall in love with pieces that I never would have encountered any other way, and I will crave listening to it even when the performance is long over. I listen to lots of non-classical music as well, and I don’t think it’s weird to have a diverse playlist. It’s like having a wide variety of food in your diet – music is food for the ears!

There’s no “standard” ensemble on today’s program, such as a woodwind quintet or string quartet. How did you decide what to include on your program? Did you decide on ensembles first, or build an ensemble around the pieces you chose?    Alex McDonald had asked me if I had any “wishlist” pieces that I wanted to play, and the one that immediately came to mind was the Mozart flute quartet in D Major. I played many woodwind quintets while in school, but it’s a rare opportunity for me to get to collaborate with strings, so I jumped at the chance. The Debussy was another wishlist piece for me (in its flute/piano incarnation), so it was very exciting to discover this arrangement for the exact instrumentation that we already had for the Mozart! To balance out the program, we thought it would be nice to feature the ensemble in duos.

What piece or recording should everyone have in their music library?    Ah, this is such a hard question! There’s one specific CD I’m rather attached to – it’s a 1983 recording of Leonard Bernstein conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Barber’s Adagio for Strings. The climax of that piece has an unbelievably vocal quality to it, it astounded me when I first heard it! The recording is on Spotify, but it’s better experienced from the CD.

What piece on the program are you most looking forward to sharing with our audience, and why?    I’m excited for the entire program! But, I think the Mozart will be a particular treat. I hope the audience has as much fun listening to it as we are having playing it!

What advice would you give 14-year-old you?    Slow down and practice your fundamentals more!! It’s not about how fast you can play today, it’s about how well you can play years from now. You’re in this for the long haul, so take the time to do things right.

Bonus question: flutist or flautist?    A rose by any other name would smell as sweet! I don’t have a preference, but “flutist” seems to be more commonly used in America while “flautist” seems more commonly used overseas.


Now Hear This: an Interview with Alex McDonald, Festival Director and pianist

Dr. Alex McDonald is well-known to our audience as the Basically Beethoven Festival Director: if you’ve attended the concerts you have heard his introductions, his phenomenal playing, and his groan-inducing musical puns. Here he gives our audience insight into the 2019 Festival and the June 21 program in particular, when he will be one of the Featured Performers.

Where did the name Basically Beethoven come from?   When FACP Co-Founder Rogene Russell founded the concert series, Mostly Mozart had been making waves in New York City for more than a decade. I think that’s where the alliterative part of the name came from. As to why ‘Beethoven,’ I think he was chosen because of his incredible appeal, passion, and his role at a turning point in the development of art music.

Why come to Basically Beethoven? What if someone doesn’t know much about classical music?                Firstly — its free! But perhaps more importantly, Basically Beethoven has great music of all kinds! We hope to have something for everyone: from the humorous to the profound, the sweet to soulful, sad to joyful. Our programming features both treasured classics to new, award-winning works. And, as an added bonus, our world-class artists are local. If the performance inspires you to want to know more or even pursue your own musical journey, the performers live relatively close by! 


Is there a specific piece being performed for the Festival this year that you’re particularly excited about?            I am excited to present Schumann’s piano quintet – which is a long-time favorite. And the chance to perform Beethoven’s  Piano Trio op. 1, no 1 (his first published work) is very exciting to me. 

What’s your job like as festival director? Do you have a favorite part of the gig – programming, performing, people, etc.?     This is an easy one. My favorite part by far is just listening to the music! Moody is such a great performance space, and the artists are such incredible communicators. The repertoire they choose is a wonderful extension of who they are as people. It feeds my soul and challenges me to go practice!

There are a lot of composers featured throughout the festival other than Beethoven. How do you decide who and what to program every week?     I always like to hear from the artists about what they want to play. To me, this helps keep the sense of creativity and interest and variety.

2020 will be Beethoven’s 250th birthday and the 40th annual Basically Beethoven Festival. Are there big plans in the works, and can you offer a sneak peak of anything to come?    There are big plans! No hints yet – but stay tuned. We are beyond excited at what is to come. 


Now Hear This: an Interview with Evan Mitchell and Jonathan Tsay, piano

Evan and Jonathan not only share a stage but a piano at the second concert of the 2019 Basically Beethoven Festival on Sunday, July 14. The program features music for “piano four hands” which is when two pianists share one instrument. They’ll be sharing the stage as performers for the first time for our Festival audience! They sat down after a rehearsal for our Q&A to give an insider’s look at what they’re doing and how they got here.


How old were you when started studying piano, and when you realized you could be a professional musician? JONATHAN: I started studying piano at 5 ½ years old – the realization that I could be a professional musician happened well after it probably should have, right after undergrad when I got my first significant paycheck from doing outreach concerts with The Cliburn (for the Cliburn in the Classroom program) for the first time. EVAN: I started at age 7. I was fortunate never to have had teachers or my parents say I couldn’t be a professional musician. I started to consider it more seriously in seventh or eighth grade after attending a competition held at a conservatory, when it hit me the students there pretty much did this full-time.

On the 14th, you two will be playing several pieces originally written for full orchestra. Can you explain what an arrangement is? EVAN: An arrangement is basically when someone has taken a piece of music and rewritten it, without changing the notes, for different performing forces. Sunday’s program all went from orchestral to piano settings, but the opposite happens frequently as well, where a piece (Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, for instance) starts as a piano work and is expanded for a larger ensemble. 

Do you all have experience arranging music yourselves? JONATHAN: I guess that’s sort of a yes and no answer for me. The extent of arranging for me is taking a piece that has already been reduced for piano (usually concerto accompaniment reductions) and adding or subtracting elements here and there based off of what I think sounds closer to the original orchestral texture. There’s a bit more leeway with the actual notes on the page when dealing with arrangements/transcriptions than say, a Beethoven Sonata.

What is different about learning/performing pieces like this (originally written for large ensembles) than for a more standard piano work? EVAN: With one person playing a solo piano work, there’s a degree of flexibility often built into the way the music is written — especially in the Romantic period — and sometimes added at the performer’s discretion. A large ensemble, though, has such inertia that changes in speed need to be really proportional. Think: the difference between a jet-ski and a cruise ship. To play in a fluid way and evoke all the colors of the orchestra, without some of the flexibility you’d normally have when interpreting music at the keyboard, is tricky.

How did the two of you meet and start collaborating? JONATHAN: Evan and I met while doing Cliburn in the Classroom (Evan as the pianist and me as host), and while we had been doing different concerts together for The Cliburn and Ensemble75, this concert Sunday will be the first time (out of many, hopefully) that we share the stage both as performers.

What makes playing piano four hands (two pianists sharing a keyboard) unique or special versus two pianists on two pianos performing one piece? JONATHAN: Real estate. Pianists are so very used to having the entirety of the keyboard (and the bench!) to themselves that once another body is added to a single keyboard, all of the angles (arms/hands/feet relative to the piano) change. Quite often there will be passages that require one person to play a note and then cede the note to the partner much quicker than if they were to be playing alone — a significant part of rehearsal is spent working out the choreography/traffic jam. On the plus side, the individual parts are usually a bit easier to learn and I have learned quite a bit from Evan during rehearsals, which is one of the main reasons I collaborate with people. EVAN: You really have to play as one, which is harder in some ways than playing as two polished performers in dialogue. The way you have to balance sounds across one keyboard, sometimes while contorted into pretty uncomfortable positions, is deceptively difficult.

Last year we had a program featuring two pianists on two pianos. Why would a composer choose to write something with pianists sharing one keyboard? JONATHAN: Like, pianos are expensive, man. Composing/arranging for one piano (whether it’s for one or two pianists) rather than two pianos increases the likelihood of it being performed. EVAN: But a full orchestra is expensive-er. And that’s exactly why many of these pieces were arranged for four-hand piano in the first place; before the advent of recorded sound, this was the only way for most folks to experience this music aside from hearing an orchestral performance.

The pieces you all will perform are all connected in a few ways: they have been in movies or TV shows, were all written in the 19th century; how did you choose your program for Basically Beethoven this year? JONATHAN: Very basically, I asked Evan about some pieces that would be a good fit with the Debussy (which I had performed before, but the two-piano version) and we negotiated around some works and they all happened to share the “outdoorsy” theme. EVAN: They’re all crowd-pleasers, which makes it fun for the audience. They also all happen to rely a lot for their effectiveness on orchestral colors and different timbres, which is a rewarding challenge for us to have to recreate on the piano.

What type of music did you listen growing up? What do you listen to now? JONATHAN: I listened to lots of things growing up — I think if you look up my Now Hear This from 2016 there’s a Dolly Parton story in there (Editor’s Note: indeed, there is!). It ranged from classical to alternative rock to whatever Taiwanese karaoke hits my parents sang. My current collection in my car (SD card reader is amazing) includes Radiohead, Hiromi Uehara, OutKast, Bill Evans, The Roots, other random collections of songs made for various road trips from artists I couldn’t name, as well as CDs of music of Lowell Liebermann, Evgeny Kissin’s 1984 debut performing both Chopin concerti, and the Cezanne Quartet’s album of music by Kevin Puts, Mendelssohn, and Bartok. That’s some of what I listen to when/if I’m not listening to a podcast. EVAN: I grew up right outside New York and loved going to jazz clubs throughout middle and high school, and whenever I’m back that way to visit. Classical’s always been part of it, especially from my high school years onward. I recently made a trip to Houston, and I’d say the drive was divided between Punch Brothers, Nas, and Tchaikovsky.

What piece or recording should everyone have in their music library? EVAN: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli playing the Rachmaninoff Fourth Concerto; Murray Perahia playing anything by Mozart or Bach. JONATHAN: Carlos Kleiber – Tribute to a Unique Artist.

Which piece are you most excited to perform on the 14th? EVAN: Probably the Mussorgsky. A Night on Bald Mountain is lots of fun, and with such a catchy opening, it’s one of those pieces that everyone, even musicians, thinks they know but may not actually be all that familiar with all the way through. JONATHAN: The Rossini. I have basically one moment that I need to get around (the first part of the Lone Ranger theme – harder than I expected!) and then I get to sit back and watch Evan sweat out all the hard parts.


Now Hear This: an Interview with Shields Bray, piano

You may know Shields Bray as principal keyboard of the Forth Worth Symphony Orchestra (he’s held the position since 1986) and as host of the FWSO pre-concert discussion series (since 1993). Get to know him this Sunday, July 30, as a critical piece of the chamber music ensemble for our final Basically Beethoven Festival concert “Americana!”


Bray, Buddy 2017 bwWhat piece on the program are you most excited about? What should audience members listen for? They’re all such beauties, but I’m especially attached to Jennifer Higdon’s Piano Trio. It appeals to musicians because it’s so well-written, and to audiences because it communicates so directly. That’s true of all her work. The Bernstein clarinet sonata is perfect in front of the trio: it’s one of his earliest pieces, and one of his most appealing. He knew the character of instruments, and how to bring that character forth. Copland was one of Bernstein’s mentors, so I like having that connection in the program. Appalachian Spring is, of course, one of the great achievements in American music. It started life as a ballet for Martha Graham, and it really has never been out of the mainstream since. 

As a pianist, what do you love about chamber music? How is it different from playing in a large symphony or solo? Learning to play the piano is such a solitary pursuit, and pianists don’t generally have large-ensemble experience when we’re young. It’s why I love playing with instrumentalists and singers. I love that shared experience. It’s also why, after 30 years, I still really love orchestral playing. I like being part of a bigger effort.

How old were you when you started playing piano? Why did you choose it? Did you learn other instruments? I was 8 when I started, which is about four years late, really. I think it chose me. I’ve never wanted to do anything else.

What type of music did you listen to as a kid, and what do you listen to now? I listened to top 40 until midway through high school, and then I suddenly didn’t listen to the radio anymore. Now I do, but to NPR. For music, I listen to singers, mostly. There’s something about the human voice – the immediacy of it, the warmth.

You are based in Fort Worth. What would surprise out-of-towners about Fort Worth? I love Fort Worth. I love that, as a city, it gets behind its arts and stays behind them. I love that Forth Worth has a feeling for its history, too. 

It’s not unusual to hear of humorous stereotypes for certain musicians and their instruments in an orchestra. What’s a typical pianist like? I wonder if there IS a typical pianist! We do practice an awful lot, and most pianists talk about pianos and what goes on under the hood. 

Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To play? To listen to: Mozart. That’s perfection. I played him a lot when I was young, and I hope I’ll get back to him when I’m 70 or so. He’s a lot to live up to. For the past 15 years or so, I’ve jumped at every chance to play Messiaen. He’s a real original, and I’m fascinated by him.

What’s your favorite sound (musical or non-musical)? Least favorite? My favorite sound is the ocean. My least favorite sounds are sirens of all kinds.

Once you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert are you looking forward to? I want to hear Mozart play the piano!