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“Piano Man: Musician shares history, song in ‘narrative concert’,” by Lynn Carey


Art that relishes innovation ad generates excitement best describes “The Piano Story” as it was told recently at Rogoway’s Turquoise Tortoise Gallery in Tubac.

As a contribution to Tubac’s annual “Art Experience,” owners Deborah Barrios and Jacqueline Zeitler hosted the “narrative concert” on Nov. 6-7. Argentine concert pianist Mario Merdirossian told and played the captivating story of the piano; from its invention more than three centuries ago until today.

He used charts and examples to demonstrate how the piano evolved from the harpsichord, clavier and pianoforte.

Merdirossian explained that all musical instruments were developed in an attempt to mimic the human voice, the most versatile instrument of all. By the judicious selection of the pieces he played, he was able to demonstrate the difference in sound and texture between a piano and its ancestor the harpsichord. His talk was peppered with wonderful anecdotes about life at court, in the days when only royalty could afford the very expensive handmade pianos. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that pianos were mass-produced and available to all.

The event featured three baby grand and grand pianos from a privately owned Steinway vintage collection. These Steinway pianos, all professionally restored, dated from 1892, 1912 and 1938. They were built during Steinway’s “golden era.”

Besides being a highly entertaining lecturer, Merdirossian proved to be a virtuoso performer. He made his professional debut at the age of 11 and went on to graduate and earn a master’s degree from the National Conservatory of the Province of Buenos Aires. He became a professor of music history and theory and taught many who went on to soloist careers. He has given concerts throughout North and South America.

In telling “The Piano Story,” he played selections from Chopin, Khatcharian and Listz, among others. An enthusiastic crowd filled the gallery to capacity. His performance was met with animated applause throughout and ended with a standing ovation. Although the experience lasted three hours, many were sorry to see it end.

Zeitler said that the impetus for the event was to show the relationship between music and the visual arts. In that they were most successful and hope to host the event again.