The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) kicks off its Ward Virts Concert Series at 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 13 at its Prince Frederick Campus with a free performance by classical pianist Brian Ganz, who is widely regarded as one of the leading pianists of his generation.
Ganz is on the piano faculty of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he is artist-in-residence, and is also a member of the piano faculty of the Peabody Conservatory. He is the artist-editor of the Schirmer Performance Edition of Chopin’s Preludes (2005).
As reported in an article titled “Ganz ready to tickle ivories at CSM” in the Oct. 9, 2019 edition of The Calvert Recorder and reprinted here with permission:
There will be some rocking and rolling going on this weekend, but if you’re looking for more relaxing musical entertainment, pianist Brian Ganz will perform 3 p.m., Sunday at the College of Southern Maryland’s Prince Frederick campus, 115 J.W. Williams Road in Prince Frederick.
“I love this event,” the 59-year-old Virginia resident said. “It’s a great night in a great setting, it’s always a very speaker-friendly audience and I love hearing their thoughts about the pieces they’ll hear. It’s a very warm environment. Every year it’s one of the highlights of my year.”
The performance is part of the Ward Virts Concert Series, which celebrates the life and talent of Ward Virts, a talented Southern Maryland pianist who died suddenly in 1993.
The free concerts are performed on a world-class handcrafted Austrian Bösendorfer Grand Piano, a gift to the college’s Prince Frederick campus from the Ward Virts Piano Project.
“It’s a very beautiful piano with a very brilliant sound, a powerful sound, so it’s easy to make it sing,” Ganz said of the piano. “It’s got a kind of purity of sound, so it’s kind of like playing a light and sometimes you have to dim that light, so it’s not too brilliant for the listener so you tend to play it with tenderness and delicacy. It’s a real pleasure to have a piano that speaks so clearly so easily.”
Ganz said he will play 18 pieces, primarily by Chopin, along with some nocturnes and waltzes during the two-hour concert.
“I think it’s an adventure in understanding and appreciating the storytelling behind great music,” he said.
Ganz said he found his calling while listening to his parents’ classical music albums as a 9-year-old.
“I felt immediately drawn to that world, and I knew within a few weeks that’s what I wanted to dedicate my life to,” said Ganz, who later attended the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore.
And he also knew he wanted to play the works of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin.
“I just got really attracted to his music,” Ganz said. “There’s something about the harmonic language to me. It’s very mysterious and very bold and maybe even strange for that time, and I found that compelling. Chopin was a superb storyteller and I love good stories and I connected with his language of storytelling and found it immensely engaging.”
Ganz, who is on the piano faculty of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, has scaled back his schedule to about two concerts per month.
Asked if he has any superstitions, he said he is “certainly careful with knives” and also avoids caffeine up to 48 hours before a performance.
“Caffeine does something to my concentration,” said Ganz, who also enjoys nature, meditation, cooking and astronomy. “You want all of your inner tumblers facing in the same direction like a combination lock, so you kind of enter that altered state of consciousness with intense concentration is harder and in some ways not even possible with caffeine.”
For more information, go to www.csmd.edu/community/the-arts/music/ward-virts-series/index.
CSM Ward Virts Concert Series: Pianist Brian Ganz. 3 p.m., Oct. 13. College of Southern Maryland, Prince Frederick Campus, Building B, Multipurpose Room, 115 J.W. Williams Road, Prince Frederick. Pianist Brian Ganz will perform. Ganz is on the piano faculty of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he is artist-in-residence, and is a member of the piano faculty of the Peabody Conservatory. Free. www.csmd.edu/community/the-arts/music/ward-virts-series/index.
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