The concert starts 7 p.m. in the Diana Wortham Theatre in Asheville. Wortham is where Tavernier each fall has his biggest benefit concert of all. This is his fifth annual World Masterwork Series Benefit Concert, put on by the Music Foundation of WNC to honor legendary composers and raise money for local causes. Skyland Auto Group is the event sponsor. WLOS-TV anchor Darcel Grimes hosts, as usual.
Merely about 50 of the 520 seats remain as of last weekend, event organizer and promoter Bob Tavernier said. “We expect it to sell out” in advance.
This performance is tabbed The 3 B’s: 3 Pianos, 3 Pianists, 3 Composers. The composers are famed Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). Four of their compositions will be performed.
The beneficiary shifts to the Hendersonville High School junior’s hometown of Hendersonville, and to fellow musicians. HSO Music Director Dr. Thomas Joiner, in his 20th season, will conduct. The benefit is a week ahead of the start of HSO’s five-concert season.
“I feel like it’s a great way to give back to the community for the opportunities I have been given over the last few years,” Christopher said. “Especially the orchestra, for all of the wonderful concerts it puts on year-round.”
Christopher has played piano duets on stage before. But this is the first time he will be among three playing the same composition together. The other two N.C.-based pianists are Jesse Davis and Dr. Vance Reese.
Christopher said of rehearsals it is quite “interesting” to both hear “more than two pianos being played simultaneously, with me included” and the “different inner voices changing between the pianists.”
All three play together in both concertos of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) in the program. They are Concerto No. 1 in D Minor for Three Pianos, BWV 1063 and as the closer Concerto No. 2 in C Major for Three Pianos, BWV 1064. Both concertos have up-tempo “allegro” first and third/final movements, sandwiching in pulsating Alla Siciliana in Concerto No. 1 then slow Adagio in Concerto No. 2.
Christopher, 16, will play solo on Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53. The prelude is the Chamber Orchestra performing Brahm’s 16 Waltzes, Op. 39.
Bob Tavernier stated how “even on the world-stage, three-piano concerts of this nature are rare, technically challenging and beautiful beyond compare.”
“We are doing something that is very seldom done anywhere in the world,” Music Foundation founder Joann Freeburg of Freeburg Pianos said. “You won’t have to be a classical music fan to enjoy this concert. You can appreciate it from a historical, technical and performance perspective. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Young Tavernier sounds better than ever, many who heard him play this year say. More than ever, he subtly lift his arms and torso up then leans head forward, and hands propel downward with greater velocity and force into strokes. This produces crisper notes, and fuller sound.
He was among merely six Brevard Music Center student competition winners between its summer students. They played solos with the full BMC Orchestra July 23. He enjoyed his BMC summer studies, and socializing with other musicians with “similar (professional) ambitions.”
Playing with dozens of seasoned professionals for a fuller sound is an “exciting experience,” he said. “It’s one that is hard to forget, and you want more of.” He has played with large orchestras before including HSO April 29, as reward for winning its Young Artist Competition. He also won the youth contest of Asheville Symphony Orchestra (ASO).
He looks forward to again playing with HSO this Saturday, and with the other two pianists. Lanky 6-foot-4 inch Dr. Reese has been a WNC pro musician for 21 years. He teaches music at Brevard College. He is an ASO’s double bassist, Christ School’s chapel organist, and works with Asheville Lyric Opera.
Reese co-founded Opera Creations that in part puts on comedic musicals. His music phD. is from Indiana in 1997 specializing in organ, sacred music, and music history.
Davis has performed with orchestras and in recitals as a soloist, from Paris to Moscow to New York’s Carnegie Hall. He has played triple piano concertos before, including with his wife Leslie. Davis is music director of the First Baptist Church of Pinehurst. His master’s in music is from Baylor, his bachelor’s from UNC-CH.
He won the 2001 Vienna International Pianists Academy and several other competitions. The Fayetteville resident teaches privately, including a master class for gifted youths in Sicily.
N.C. native Davis debuted with the Tar River Philharmonic at age 16 two decades ago. Tavernier also debuted with TRP, at 13 in 2013.
HSO began in 1971. The 70 member professional orchestra serves nearly 4,000 patrons annually, including 2,000 area third and sixth graders with special concerts. Its Youth Orchestra, Children’s Choir and Summer Strings Workshop educate more than 150 students per year.
HSO is “providing world-class performances” and pivotal education, Mrs. Freeburg said. Benefit concert proceeds ensure that “quality musical performances and education will continue enhancing lives.”
All three pianists will perform on limited special edition Perzina Grand Pianos imported from Amsterdam, and provided by Freeburg Pianos of Hendersonville. They are tuned to Equal-Beating Victorian temperament of the 1800s, which many top performers use today for a extra vibrant sound.
Tickets cost more ($36 each) than prior MasterWork concerts but less than many HSO concerts such as its opener the following Saturday with a $40 regular rate. The aim is to coincide with HSO pricing and avoid undercutting HSO’s own upcoming concerts, Bob Tavernier stated. This also raises more money for HSO.
HSO opens with a trio of fiddlers-violinists in “Celebration!,” Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Blue Ridge Community College’s Concert/Conference Hall. For tickets, check http://www.hendersonvillesymphony.org/portfolio/hsoevents/.
For 3 B’s tickets, call the Wortham box office at 257-4530 or go online to: https://www.dwtheatre.com/Online/seatSelect.asp.