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updated: 1/25/2014 8:32 PM

Diverse music highlights Elgin piano concert

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  • More than 1,000 people attended all three shows of American Grands XIX, a concert featuring 462 pianists performing on 12 grand pianos, on Saturday at Elgin Community College.

       More than 1,000 people attended all three shows of American Grands XIX, a concert featuring 462 pianists performing on 12 grand pianos, on Saturday at Elgin Community College.
    Lenore Adkins | Staff Photographer

  • American Grands XIX featured 462 pianists who played a diverse musical selection Saturday at Elgin Community College, including tunes by Beethoven, Woody Guthrie and Lady Gaga.

       American Grands XIX featured 462 pianists who played a diverse musical selection Saturday at Elgin Community College, including tunes by Beethoven, Woody Guthrie and Lady Gaga.
    Lenore Adkins | Staff Photographer

 
 

Piano players of all ages and skill levels performed a diverse catalog of songs by artists including Lady Gaga, Beethoven and Woody Guthrie at the American Grands XIX concerts Saturday in Elgin.

The event, held at Elgin Community College, featured 462 pianists performing on a dozen grand pianos.

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Organizers arranged the program by ability, which made for interesting combinations onstage.

"You literally might have a 6-year-old sitting next to somebody who's 76 and, for me, that's one of the joys of the program," said Colin Holman, the American Grands conductor. "It's a very intergenerational, community-building event where people come together and make great music, regardless of what their backgrounds happen to be."

Most songs featured 24 performers, two per piano, performing onstage at the same time.

Each show started and ended with the "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Stars and Stripes Forever," respectively.

The music was selected last summer via committee, and the pianists had been practicing since October, said Larry Dieffenbach, the concert's music director.

A total of more than 1,000 tickets were sold for the three shows on Saturday.

Two of them went to Donald and Gloria Slomiany of Plainfield. They said they've been attending for the past three years to support their granddaughter, Avery Slomiany, 10, of Rolling Meadows.

They also marveled at all of the young people who were playing such beautiful music.

Gloria Slomiany said she was especially looking forward to the Lady Gaga piece, an arrangement of "Bad Romance" in the style of Bach, because she's seen the singer perform before on "The Voice."

"She's way out there; she's all over the place," Slomiany said.

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