Latest “Piano in the Arts” Event Highlights Classical Music

Madison Watkins, Staff Writer


Dr. Benjamin Warsaw performs during “Piano in the Arts” concert. Jan.19, 2017. Photo by Madison Watkins

On the night of January 19, the Department of Art, Music, and Theatre put on the third
show part of the ongoing “Piano in the Arts” concert series in the Fine Arts Auditorium. Armstrong’s very own Dr. Benjamin Warsaw put these concerts together because he wanted to have a concert series here that focused solely on piano. The theme for that night was “Classical, Traditional, Original.”

Warsaw and his longtime friend, Elissa Alvarez performed the music showcased that evening. Warsaw provided all of the instrumental music throughout the night on the piano and Alvarez provided the vocals. Alvarez is known for her outstanding soprano voice.

Throughout the concert they presented a variety of musical styles. The first half of the show had classical songs presented in Spanish, French and German. The second to last song, entitled “Icarus,” performed by Warsaw and Alvarez before the intermission was an original piece written by Warsaw himself. The song was written specifically for Alvarez to be performed. They ended the first half of the show with three different traditional Hebrew medleys. After the intermission, Warsaw performed three songs on his own by artist George Gershwin that he had completely memorized. Then he welcomed Alvarez back to the stage and they performed the last few songs together. All of the songs they performed in the second half were American songs written by artists in the 1800s and 1900s.

Alvarez stated that her favorite songs to perform at first were the Hebrew medleys, but as their rehearsals went on, “my opinion changed to the final song we performed, ‘From This Moment On.’” Warsaw had a different answer, “my favorite song we performed was ‘Icarus.’ It is my favorite because it is the song I wrote for Elissa a few years ago. It is always fun to perform.”

Considering the small amount of rehearsal time they had, they did a fantastic job together. After Alvarez flew into Savannah they rehearsed from Sunday until Wednesday to be ready for the performance. Warsaw said, “it didn’t take us long to rehearse since we have known each other for nine years.” When asked about how long it took him to learn the pieces he played by memory, he said “I learned the Gershwin pieces in a week.” Concerning their busy schedules and Warsaw’s teaching job at Armstrong, the fact that he and Alvarez were able to learn new music, memorize most of it and perform it all within four to five days is highly impressive.

Freshman vocal major, Damon Banks said, “I really enjoyed the varying contrasts of music tonight. I thoroughly feel like there was something here for everyone.” Freshman Jacob Ivester, who has had Warsaw as a professor, thought, “the skills presented by Warsaw and Alvarez were very well done. I think it’s great how Armstrong hires staff that not only comes and teaches classes but also goes beyond and participates by orchestrating these kinds of events.”

There will be two more shows presented in this concert series by the end of the semester. The next show is called “Beyond the Piano” and will feature the pianist and songwriter Evelyn Davis along with Amma Ateria on the hardware electronics. It will be on Feb. 23 in the Fine Arts Auditorium.