The Transylvania Times -

With Philharmonic: Acclaimed Concert Pianist Gross To Perform - Brevard, NC

 

February 22, 2018

Courtesy photo

David Gross

Brevard Philharmonic welcomes the dynamic recording artist and piano soloist David Gross to the Porter Center stage at Brevard College on Sunday, March 4, at 3 p.m. Dr. Gross will join the orchestra for a piece that he says, "...has a wonderful kind of grandeur," Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto, as part of an afternoon with the theme "A Noble Endeavor."

The performance will be led by maestro Charles Jones Evans, the third candidate in this artistic director search season. The program will feature the Philharmonic playing three other equally noble pieces by William Walton, Johann Strauss Jr. and Igor Stravinsky.

Gross took a truly international route before landing in Greenville, S.C. Today he is associate professor at Furman University and a founding member of the Poinsett Piano Trio, an ensemble that has performed throughout the Southeast and extensively in New Zealand.

Born in Berlin, he traveled to this country to earn a graduate degree at the Yale School of Music. Back to Berlin after Yale, he built a vibrant professional life as a celebrated performer, recording artist and teacher in Germany, and garnered the top prize in several international competitions. But finding the call of this country irresistible, he returned and today is fully settled in.

Gross started the piano early.

"My parents loved music. It was played throughout our house. My father was not a professional but he played quite well. I remember instead of reading to my sister and me at bedtime he would play nursery rhymes on the piano to send us off to sleep," Gross said.

It was his parents' idea to send him to lessons. Although his talent was obvious and he had his first public performance at the age of 8, piano was not Gross' passion until later.

"I had to be coaxed at first, but I had the gift of a great first teacher," he said.

Gross thanks his parents for his love of music.

"They dragged me to concerts, immersing their young, reluctant son, and by the time I was a teenager I was hooked," Gross said. "I began to buy classical albums and the cheapest possible concert tickets so I could go to as many as possible."

As a matter of fact, listening is a major theme of his own teaching style.

"Besides good teachers and devoted parents, the best education proved to be my attendance at concerts of the great artists. They fueled my appreciation for the quality of sound, and my awareness of their stage personalities," he said.

Today, with his own music students, Gross calls upon the inspiration of one of his own grad school professors.

"He was able to start with the unique personality of each student, training them, stretching them, yet they ended up holding on to their own personal voice and idiosyncrasies," he said.

Gross has appeared in concert with numerous extraordinary singers, among them Janet Williams. He balks at the term "accompanist."

"We don't call a viola player an accompanist, yet he spends an entire career accompanying others. No matter what role I am playing I prefer to be called just a pianist. There is a vast difference in playing solo and playing with a singer," he said. "Listening to someone else requires skill. Responding. Steering them somewhere or allowing them to steer you. The greatest challenge is that of listening. I like using the word 'collaboration' which puts neither singer nor pianist in a subservient role."

The Beethoven Gross will be performing with the Philharmonic, Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat, op. 73, "Emperor," is one of his favorites.

"I vividly remember the cover of that vinyl album I bought with my own money as a teenager. Piano was still evolving when this piece was written and Beethoven did something really original with the instrument, creating almost a piano improvisation using all of its range, collaborating in the fullest sense with the full orchestra," he said.

The concert is sponsored by A. Stuart Fendler Family Trust.

A bonus this season is the opportunity to buy a raffle ticket for an oil painting by Brevard artist Barbara Hawk. Raffle tickets are $30 each to benefit the Philharmonic's Music in the Schools Program and its other outreach work. The painting will be on display at every concert and at the Philharmonic's new office. The winner will be announced at intermission at the last concert, April 8. You need not be present to win.

Tickets are on sale now and will be available at $25 to $35 per concert. Call (828) 884-4221 for details, stop in at our brand new office across from Brevard College at 521 N. Broad St., or use our Pick Your Seat option at brevardphilharmonic.org.

 
 

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