There I was, minding my own business in my office at WOSU, surrounded by CDs fresh from the School of Music at The Ohio State University. I was beginning to put together a new season of Concerts at Ohio State, and at the top of the pile was the doctoral recital given by a young pianist I didn't know. Generally-and don't tell anyone - I listen to the first three minutes of performance intended for broadcast, insuring robust musicianship and broadcast quality engineering. After that I move on, until later.
Not this time.
Whoever this was played the Schubert Impromptus for Piano as if they were written that morning, rather than in 1819, and avoided either the hyper technical gloss or the weepy sentimentality that can infect performances of Schubert's music. Schubert, was fat, ugly and syphilitic. Feeling sorry for the composer makes it making it too easy to ignore the guts, fire and fun in his piano music.
Not Orlay Alonso. That's the pianist's name. I was floored. I found out he's a young guy, living locally, teaching at Capital, pursuing a career as a pianist internationally, sometimes with his pianist brother and sometimes not. And I learned he had been born and raised in Cuba.
With Cuba becoming accessible after 50 years, and with a festival of Cuban music at Otterbein in the very recent past, it seemed a good time to plan a broadcast series on Cuban music, not including Desi Arnaz. I got in touch with Orlay Alsonso, met him, fell in love with him-listen, don't start, you would too-and as I write these words a Classical 101 Festival of Cuban Music is in the works. I've asked Orlay to provide some of his own performances, and to guide me tot the best of music by Cuban composers.
He's doing it. Boy, is he ever. On my own, I've come up with Javier Orbon, Esteban Salas, Leo Brouwer, and Ignacio Cervantes. What I've discovered is nothing compared to the riches that Orlay Alonso will bring to Classical 101. We'll be including the Westerville symphony's performance of Jose Maria Vitier's Misa Cubana.
Our Cuban Festival will air Sunday afternoons at 1 in September (I think-it may e October if we're having too much fun) as part of Music in Mid Ohio. Bring your towels. It'll be pretty steamy, and fabulous.