Percy Grainger America
Years ago, Richard Masters visited the Percy Grainger House in White Plains, New York, a pilgrimage undertaken out of respect for Percy's gifts to the world of music. He was thrilled to play Percy's piano and enchanted by Percy's home, choc-a-bloc with its pictures, books, and music. He never forgot this visit and contacted us last year to see if we could arrange a concert. We were delighted at this request and happy to help Richard "give back" to the music world with his performance. He has dedicated all proceeds from his concert to our preservation effort. A copy of the concert program is here.
Richard is a soloist, opera coach, chamber musician and orchestral pianist based in Blacksburg, VA, where he is an Assistant Professor of Piano and Collaborative Piano on the music faculty at Virginia Tech's School of Performing Arts. He has performed solo, chamber and vocal recitals throughout the U.S. and in Europe.
As a solo pianist, Richard plays a wide variety of standard and non-traditional repertoire, including contemporary pieces written for or commissioned by him. A strong proponent of contemporary American composers, he has performed world premieres of pieces by Kenneth Frazelle, Charles Nichols, Kent Holliday, and many others. He is an enthusiastic performer of British music from the early 20th century.
Recent appearances include performances at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum's "Music at the Gardner" series, the National Flute Convention in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Conservatory, the Schola Cantorum in Paris, and concerts in Toronto and Trinidad/Tobago. In the 2018-2019 season, he will tour Texas, performing the complete songs of Henri Duparc with Ariana Wyatt, soprano, and Marc Callahan, baritone. Solo appearances will include performances in Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, and on the concert series at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California.
In addition to his performances as a pianist, Richard is active in the world of opera and musical theatre as a coach and conductor. He recently conducted performances of Carousel, Fiorello!, Oh, Kay!, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Le Nozze di Figaro, Babes in Arms, and in Summer 2018 served as associate head coach with the Pittsburgh Festival Opera, working on Wagner's Das Rheingold and Strauss's Arabella. Prior to joining the faculty at Virginia Tech, he was principal opera coach at the University of Texas at Austin.
Richard Masters holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music (DMA), the Juilliard School (MM) and the University of Colorado at Boulder (BM).
Percy Grainger - Springfield Missouri
--a brief study of Percy Grainger’s residency in Springfield, Missouri
NOTE: This presentation will be broadcast live on Marissa's Facebook page at 2 pm EDT on May 11. (Later, also posted on International Percy Grainger Society FB page.)
For residents of Springfield, Missouri, it is not uncommon to hear rumors that the world-famous composer and pianist, Percy Grainger (1882-1961), had once lived in the same city. Though it is known by Grainger enthusiasts that the Australian-born musician moved to the United States and made his residence in White Plains, New York, his “Springfield Years” are often overlooked or even disregarded altogether without explanation.
Marissa Kyser is currently writing a master’s research paper on the many questions that surround Grainger’s time in Springfield. Though many tall tales and rumors have circulated over time about the legendary composer, Marissa’s mission is to identify factual evidence regarding Percy and Ella’s decision to move to Missouri.
Why did he move to Springfield? Where did he live and how much did it cost? Did he like living in Springfield? Did he accomplish anything significant? When did he return to White Plains?
After over a year of research, Marissa’s findings construct a detailed timeline and illuminate this period of his life (1940-1943). In addition to completing an in-depth investigation of resources in Springfield, Marissa has recently returned from a quest for information at the Grainger Museum and University of Melbourne in Australia. Her studies have led her to explore many newspaper articles, letters, financial records, concert dates, and other resources that serve as key puzzle pieces to the vast jigsaw that is Percy Grainger.
Marissa Kyser is a trumpet player and conducting graduate student at Missouri State University studying wind band conducting. She holds a degree from Missouri State University (BME) and will graduate with her second degree (MM) in May of this year.
We are thrilled to welcome Penelope Thwaites, internationally recognized as an exponent and scholar of Percy Grainger’s music as well as editor of The New Percy Grainger Companion (Boydell & Brewer 2010). A copy of her program is here.
Born and current resident in UK, Penelope grew up in Australia, winning first place on graduation in Music from Melbourne University. She has won acclaim as a concert pianist, recording artist, composer, writer and editor, broadcaster and music festival curator. In 2001, she was awarded the Order of Australia for her work.
In the mid 70's, the composer William L Reed said to Penelope - "You're an Australian - why don't you play some Grainger?" She considered, and decided to include three folk-settings at the end of her next recital. She notes that she found them delightful, stimulating - and demanding, not an unusual experience for those embarking on performing Grainger. She notes that Grainger was a formidable and hugely energetic pianist.
She has now recorded more than 260 tracks of Percy Grainger's music. She was the featured solo, chamber and orchestral artist on eight of Chandos Records’ 20-CD Grainger Edition. Most recently, she recorded a fourth CD with fellow Australian pianist, Timothy Young, to add to the three existing CDs of Grainger’s music that she had previously recorded with John Lavender. All four CDs, now released as a box set on the Heritage label, contain many world premieres, including the discovery of a youthful piano concerto fragment, and provide a fascinating insight into Grainger’s pianistic output.
Her lectures and broadcasts on the composer and detailed research into his life and work led to her editing The New Percy Grainger Companion, widely recognized for its new research and insights by established performers of Grainger’s music. She was Artistic Director for two major Grainger Festivals in London: St John’s Smith Square in 1998 and a four-day celebration at King’s Place in 2011 - 50 years since Percy Grainger’s death.
"Tall Poppy" is a 2016 documentary by writer/director Rhys Devine. (The term Tall Poppy referring to a perceived tendency to discredit or disparage those who have achieved notable wealth or prominence in public life.) The documentary includes narrative by Ms. Thwaites about Percy Grainger's early life and includes film clips of Percy Grainger working at 7 Cromwell Place, White Plains. Click on the photo to view it.
Penelope muses "My preliminary skirmishes with Grainger led to a fascination with the story of his life, and I devised a program of piano works that would follow at least something of its extraordinary progress. Making a series of recordings of all the two pianos four-hand repertoire included the discovery of several works that had lain undiscovered. The process continued through many live performances as well as further solo, chamber and orchestral recordings. Some 260 tracks later I am amazed at the richness of his imagination and his understanding of the piano."
Percy Grainger’s autobiographical Museum in Melbourne, Australia was designed to present and interpret life experiences in the context of the creative process. One of the Museum’s founding principles is the concept that one needs to become familiar with the ‘culturizing influence of parents, relatives, wives, husbands and friends’ in order to understand the creative process of an individual’. For this reason Percy Grainger ensured that his wife Ella’s personal belongings were incorporated into the collection.
The Ella Grainger material includes photographs, correspondence, artwork and ephemera from across her life, including before she met Percy in 1926. As a young woman Ella led a fascinating life, with complex interpersonal relationships, but her story has been overshadowed by that of her more famous husband.
This talk will focus on the period 1914 - 1919 when Ella Viola Ström took classes at the Slade School of Art, Central School of Arts and Crafts and ateliers in Paris. Her studies were funded by her benefactor Frederick Leverton Harris, who encouraged her to pursue a career as an artist. The talk will center on photographs held in the collection at the Grainger house in White Plain. These intriguing images of Ella and her peers give a rare insight into life as an art student at that time and have provided new avenues for research.
Monica Syrette is an independent curator and researcher. Her interest in Ella Grainger developed over the ten years that she worked in curatorial roles at the Grainger Museum and she has conducted extensive research for a proposed biography.
Call or Email Us:
Office: (914) 281-1610
7 Cromwell Place
White Plains, NY 10601