Friday, October 7, 2011

Tony Caramia: Making musical memories with 'An American Journey'

Tony Caramia, Professor of Piano at the Eastman School of Music, will be giving a concert in Lincoln as part of the 2011 Nebraska Music Teacher’s Conference taking place at Wesleyan University. The concert is Thursday, October 13, at 7:30pm at O’Donnell Auditorium. The concert is open to the public and tickets are $15 at the door.
Caramia has performed on NPR’S “Piano Jazz,” the Rochester International Jazz Festival, and three National Conferences on Keyboard Pedagogy. Besides performing, Caramia conducts workshops in Jazz piano for Music Teacher’s National Association (MTNA) Conventions, International Workshops, and has lectured at conferences on several other continents as well. Besides Jazz and Piano Pedagogy, Caramia is passionate about “theme recitals” and the use of multi-media in performances.
An American Journey
Recently, Caramia shared a little of what has gone into programming this concert, which is entitled An American Journey. “I have a lot of fun planning recitals. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I think I have more fun planning a concert than in practicing for it.”
For starters, Caramia explains, “I come up with an idea, a concept, and it takes me on a journey of discovery.” He said that the title of this concert has several meanings—for it also took him on a journey. It began when “I came across some music that I had purchased, I don’t remember when. It was 1940s sheet music from a publisher who specialized in publishing ‘Modern Piano Compositions.’ I found this title ‘Accent in Rhythms’ and bought it for the title. Then, I noticed an ad for other publications and it featured ten selections with America in the title.”
From there, Caramia had his inspiration. Meredith Wilson, later to become famous for composing the Music Man, had commissioned these original pieces for his orchestra on a 1930s radio show. Four of these pieces have been newly arranged for piano by Caramia and will be published by Alfred Music Publishing very soon.
He began searching for other pieces that were American themed. “Themed recitals lead me to find composers that I haven’t played before, or to find lesser known pieces by well-known composers.” He found a Spanish composer who had written an homage to Chaplin, a Rag from 1915 entitled “American Beauty Rag,” pieces that feature American cities in the title, and others.
A Musical Journey
“I teach at the wonderful Eastman School of Music, which has an open-mindedness to recital programming.” Caramia explained that this “open-mindedness” means realizing the importance of finding a balance between the old familiars and the new. At the Eastman School of Music, there are performances of the core of Classical music repertoire, “but there is also a Jazz program which encourages Jazz performances and contemporary and new compositions are likewise explored.” Caramia stated that he hopes to see more national performers branching out from the old and trying something new.
For aspiring performers, Caramia has this advice: “Use different aspects of your creativity. If you speak well, speak; if you are artistic, incorporate powerpoints or pictures with your performance—redefine what performing means! Don’t just do the same-old, same-old. I want to encourage as much creativity as possible.”
Caramia’s performance in Lincoln on October 13, will demonstrate not only the theme of An American Journey, but also his use of multi-media. As the audience enters the auditorium and during intermission, they will be hearing original recordings of the American pieces as performed by the Meredith Wilson Orchestra. During the performance by Caramia, a slideshow of sheet music covers that are artistic in their own way and feature the American theme will play.
Come, enjoy An American Journey!
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