Pianist Randall Frieling knows a lot about the piece he will play at the Anderson Symphony Orchestra’s 2009-10 season opener Saturday night.
A music professor at Anderson University for 23 years, Frieling has naturally studied his craft backward and forward.
His deeper knowledge of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto, however, proves the old adage: It’s not what you know, but who you know.
"Percy Grainger was a pianist of note that Grieg really liked," Frieling said last week. "Grieg was going to be the conductor, and Grainger was going to be the piano soloist. They were going to tour with an orchestra in 1907, but Grieg died.
"He and Grieg had worked before on ‘Concerto for a Summer,’ and Percy Grainger was my teacher’s teacher. So I studied this as it was handed down to me."
While all of that sounds inordinately impressive, Frieling quickly sticks a pin in it.
"Not to say that I’ve got the only way to play it," said Frieling, 47. "But I heard a lot of things from Percy Grainger, who of course got them from Grieg, through my teacher. It’s all (a game of) Telephone, but it’s still kind of fun."
The Grieg, he said, is a familiar work that many don’t know by name.
"It’s a piece that I think people will recognize, especially the opening chords, because a lot of them have heard it on ‘Hooked on Classics,’" he said. "They’ll know the opening chords and go, ‘Oh, yeah,’ but they won’t know the whole concerto."
Richard Sowers, ASO’s musical director and conductor, said he will enjoy sharing the stage with Frieling once more.
"This is the third time I’ve worked with Randy," Sowers said. "He’s just a really fine pianist. The audience is in for a real treat. He plays this piece so beautifully."
The concert also features Dvorak’s "In Nature’s Realm" and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, The Pastoral.
"All of the pieces have to do with nature in some way or other," Sowers said. "The Grieg, of course, captures Norwegian scenes with mountains and fjords and that kind of stuff."
"I love the concerto, and the last movement is really fun and dance-like," Frieling added. "It sort of keeps that two-step going. It’s a toe-tapper.
"Grieg was so attached to nature that you just sort of hear an overlapping of lots of bird calls, especially in the second movement. You know, it’s grand and majestic."
Frieling spends his free time as music director and organist at Central Christian Church and pianist for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Indianapolis.
He’s glad to be back on stage with Sowers and the ASO.
"Last time I played with them, I did ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and the Gottschalk ‘Grand Tarantelle,’" Frieling said. "It was just a blast.
"It’s an excellent orchestra. I’ve played with other orchestras, but this one is very, very fine."
‘In Nature’s Realm’
What: Season-opening concert by the Anderson Symphony Orchestra
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19
Where: Paramount Theatre, 1124 Meridian Plaza, Anderson
- "In Nature’s Realm," Antonin Dvorak
- Piano Concerto, Edvard Grieg
- Symphony No. 6 (“Pastoral”), Ludwig van Beethoven
Tickets: $18-$25, with student and senior discounts available
Information: 644-2111, (888) 644-9490 or online at www.andersonsymphony.org.
—Rodney Richey is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credits: John P. Cleary. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.