Submitted by Raue Center for the Arts
Grammy Award winner Melissa Manchester will headline Raue Center for the Arts' first Piano Weekend. The weekend begins at 7 p.m. Friday, June 29, with Fox Hills Grands.
Saturday, June 30, includes workshops and master classes taught by established musicians Melissa Manchester, Kurt Bestor and Danny Wright followed by the "America Celebrates the Piano" concert starring all three performers at 8 p.m.
The Children's Interfaith Concert marks the end of the piano celebration at 11 a.m. Sunday, July 1. This performance also features Danny Wright with special appearances by Melissa Manchester, Kurt Bestor and a children's choral group.
Richard Kuranda, executive director, and Bobbi Paul, conference artistic director, have built the conference with education as a top priority.
"This is much more than a concert. This is a multiday event where artists can come together and learn from each other while providing insight to students," Kuranda said. The Piano Conference will welcome an estimated 125 students, 45 pianists and more than 1,000 fans.
In addition, the weekend will include an "America Celebrates the Piano" themed bake-off in conjunction with Williams Sonoma in Algonquin Commons, as well as a piano marathon with an almost round-the-clock live feed of various pianists interspersed with the aforementioned programming. Both of these events are free to the community.
"America Celebrates the Piano" master classes are $100 for those age 15 and older starting at 1 p.m. June 30. Price includes one ticket to each Piano Conference event as well as admission into each master class. Everyone accepted into the master classes will be required to attend all master classes, as well as the Saturday night and Sunday morning concerts. Enjoy a day of tightening up your piano skills. Master classes will be taught by master performers Melissa Manchester, Danny Wright and Kurt Bestor. Participants must feel comfortable singing and must exhibit basic piano proficiency. Open auditions will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 24. Call the box office at (815) 356-9212 for more information and to schedule an audition time. Download an application at rauecenter.org.
For the master classes, Kurt Bestor will speak from 1 to 1:50 p.m. June 30. Bestor is an Emmy Award-winning composer, who for more than 30 years has composed an incredible variety of music in myriad styles and genres. From more than 40 feature-length films, 16 popular CDs, numerous television themes, and mix of live shows, he has established himself as one of America's most prolific and versatile composers. As a gifted performer, Bestor has performed his popular holiday shows for more than 24 years to sold-out audiences throughout the western United States. People from Seattle to Dallas have enjoyed his easygoing manner and rapport with the audience. Bestor has also performed internationally, conducting and performing with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, the Estonian National Orchestra, among others.
Danny Wright will lead the master class from 2 to 2:50 p.m. June 30. With 31 recordings and millions of albums sold, Wright is a talented pianist who has sold over 5 million CDs since his debut album in 1986. Twice named by Billboard Magazine as a Top 10 artist in his genre. Three of his albums were included in Billboard's Top 10 New Age Albums 3 consecutive years. The National Association of Record Merchandisers as the Best Seller has twice nominated him in his category.
Melissa Manchester will instruct the class from 3 to 4:30 p.m. June 30. Grammy Award-winning artist Melissa Manchester has combined her talents of singer/songwriter through hit songs and records and performances at Radio City Music Hall and Carnegie Hall. Manchester has combined her acting and singing talents in starring roles in Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Song And Dance" and "Music of the Night." She also wrote the musical "I Sent a Letter to My Love," based on the acclaimed Bernice Rubens novel of the same name. She performed the leading role in a National Public Radio broadcast and the staged musical premiered in Boston at the North Shore Music Theatre in 2002. She returned to the stage in Stephen Sondheim's musical masterpiece "Sweeney Todd" at The Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles with Kelsey Grammer and she recently starred in the Chicago premiere of "HATS!," a new musical that contains several songs she cowrote with Sharon Vaughn. Manchester has received the Governor's Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for her contributions to the music and recording arts, and her body of work to date as a singer/songwriter was a featured exhibit at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum.
The "America Celebrates the Piano" concert featuring Melissa Manchester, Danny Wright and Kurt Bestor will be at 8 p.m. June 30. Tickets start at $30. Music is for all ages.
Children's Interfaith Concert is at 11 a.m. July 1. Tickets start at $19. The final event of Raue Center's Piano Conference is an interfaith concert featuring Danny Wright and special guests.
Fox Hills Grands tickets for the June 29 concert are $10 for all ages. Tickets are on sale for each of the events online via rauecenter.org, and through the box office at 26 N. Williams St. or by calling (815) 356-9212.