By Melissa Dundis
MYER: “I started piano when I was six and I actually, I came to it sort of on my own. All of my life, my father was an engineer, but he started out in music in classical guitar. So, when I grew up he was playing classical records and he had his guitar and we had a piano in the house so when I was six I was in line to sign up for the baseball team and I told my mom what I really wanted to do was take piano lessons.”
Guest pianist Spencer Myer opens the new season tonight with Maestro Wilkins in Beethoven and Bernstein. Myer lives in New York but started making his connection to the symphony growing up in Cleveland.
MYER:”I feel so lucky that my parents were so supportive, especially having a father that decided to not doing the music career, having once tried to pursue it. And, it was funny because I grew up in Cleveland and my dad and I would always go to the Cleveland Orchestra. Whenever there was a soloist, we’d get a front row seat and watch the soloist doing their thing but until I had that conversation with my parents I never realized that that was their job. So when that switch flipped in my brain then there was no turning back and I was super focused on going to a conservatory and I don’t think I really knew exactly what being a professional pianist actually entailed, I just knew that I wanted it more than anything and I wanted music to be my life.”
While this is his first time with the Omaha Symphony at the Holland Center, Myer has special ties to music scene here in Omaha.
MYER:”The first time I can to “The Age of Anxiety” I was with Victor Yampolsky, who is the former conductor of the Omaha Symphony. So he asked me to do it at his music festival a few years ago at his Peninsula Music Festival in Wisconsin. He happened to not be the conductor for that particular concert, it was a guest. So, I went to Door County and learned the piece for it. It was a piece on my radar, I knew it had a big piano part, but it was called a symphony, but that was about it, I didn’t know much more about it. As I started to study it, it got really under my skin. It was so emotionally charged and of course the third movement with piano and percussion is so fun and jazzy, but the piece a as whole really packs a huge emotional punch.”
And this will be his second collaboration with Maestro Wilkins.
MYER:”He and I actually collaborated ten years ago in Indianapolis, he did a guest conducting spot and I played the Gershwin Concerto in F. So, we’ve collaborated on American music before and I think we just both feel it really well.”
They’ll be performing again tomorrow night in Bernstein’s Symphony No 02, “The Age of Anxiety”, a piece full of different moods and emotions.
MYER:”I think the mood that I identify with the most is in the last movement, the extreme hope because the W.H. Auden pome it’s based on is so dark and it’s basically about people questioning their identity and what’s coming next after WWII. So, it’s extremely dark but I think Bernstein really taps into the hope for tomorrow in the last movement because you are going through a rollercoaster of emotions through the piece. I think I retain that throughout. That even with all this conflict throughout and the jazzy movement with percussion, there is still that hope for tomorrow.”
Pianist Spencer Myer performs with the Omaha Symphony tonight and tomorrow evening at the Holland Performing Arts Center led by Maestro Wilkins in Beethoven and Bernstein. The performances begin at 7:30pm and you can find more information at ticketomaha.com or by calling 402.345.0606.
By Melissa Dundis