Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Chopin 'Prelude' Gives Pianist Roy F. Eaton '...the same sense of transcendence as when I meditate!”

[The Meditative Chopin; Roy F. Eaton, piano; Rhahm Music, Inc. (2008)]

John Schaefer hosted pianist Roy F. Eaton for the May 13, 2010 broadcast of Soundcheck on WNYC in New York City. As we have posted recently, Roy F. Eaton turned 80 on May 14, 2010.

“Roy Eaton grew up in the vibrant jazz scene of Harlem’s Sugar Hill. He went on to win a major classical piano competition in 1950 and then spent three decades breaking the color barrier as one of the first African-Americans to make it big in the advertising business. Eaton joins us in light of his 80th birthday to play live music from the African-American ragtime pianist Scott Joplin, and a classical favorite by 200-year-old birthday boy Chopin.”

The segment opened with Roy Eaton's performance of the Chopin Fantasy Impromptu. He and the host then discussed his strong attachment to the works of Frédéric Chopin. At, the pianist notes: “Roy Eaton, winner of the first Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Award in June 1950, made his American debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing Chopin's F minor Concerto under George Schick in 1951.”
Roy Eaton told John Schaefer that he practices transcendental meditation. He recalled that he was practicing a piece by Chopin in his forties or fifties and was amazed to find “...the same sense of transcendence as when I meditate!” The program notes for Roy Eaton's CD Meditative Chopin are online at “1986 marked his return to the concert stage with a unique Alice Tully recital exploring the spiritual dimension of Chopin’s music called 'The Meditative Chopin'. The N.Y. Times Tim Page said: 'The cumulative effect was deeply satisfying. One came much closer to the heart of Chopin—and by extension, to music itself.' This CD is a live recording of selections from that recital.”

One of many newspaper articles heralding the arrival of 2010 as the year of the “Chopin Bicentennial” appeared in The New York Times on Jan. 1, 2010. In Arts Beat, Larry Rohter wrote:
Poland officially began commemorations of the bicentennial of the birth of its most celebrated composer, Frederic Chopin, on Friday with a ceremony at his birthplace, Zelazowa Wola, about 50 miles west of Warsaw, and a concert in the capital featuring the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. More than 2,000 events, nearly half of them to be held outside Poland, are planned during the bicentennial, including films, jazz performances, exhibitions and the 16th annual Chopin International Competition. Warsaw will also host a Chopin festival that begins this week with a performance by the Chinese pianist Lang Lang; Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich will be featured performers later in the year.”

The radio broadcast ended with a brief discussion of Scott Joplin, who is profiled at Eaton contrasted the “pure joy” overtly expressed by Joplin's music with the sadness the pianist senses in works such as Solace, which he played on the show. Roy attributes the sadness, at least in part, to disappointment at Joplin's inability to stage any of his three operas during his lifetime.

Comment by email:
Thanks Bill, It's a beautiful article. Your continuing support is something I am profoundly grateful for.
Love, Roy

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