The year 2019 is now over, and it was quite an eventful year. Two of my pieces, Scenes from Istanbul and Scenes from Lisbon were performed in Lisbon on September 4. They were written for two pianos and played by Duo Harmonia which consists of two outstanding pianists named Pinar Basgoze and Susana Pinto. Pinar grew up in Turkey and Susana grew up in Portugal, so the titles appropriately reflect each of their native lands.
Duo Harmonia is located here in Minneapolis, where Pinar and Susana are colleagues and friends of mine. We teach at MacPhail Center for Music which is a non-profit organization that has about 16,000 students enrolled, making it one of the largest - if not THE largest - community school in North America.
There is now a third piece that accompanies the other two selections, and it’s called Scenes from Minneapolis. All three pieces will be performed Friday, March 13th at Hamline University in the beautiful Sundin Music Hall auditorium. This third piece forms the completion of a Triptych, a three-movement piece depicting our unique heritage as performers and composer:
I. Scenes from Istanbul (Dedicated to Pinar Basgoze)
II. Scenes from Lisbon (Dedicated to Susana Pinto)
III. Scenes from Minneapolis (celebration my own heritage as a Minneapolitan).
These two pieces (SFI and SFL) were also performed on November 16 for the Spotlight Series held at MacPhail Center for Music as well as the Thursday Musical Artist Series on January 16, 2020
Here’s a little background on Scenes from Minneapolis that I think is quite interesting. I actually wrote this piece nine years ago for an overture to an opera that I never finished. It is subtitled “Busking On The Mall” (The Mall refers to Nicollet Mall which is located in downtown Mpls. There’s a recording of it located under Piano Works in case you are in hearing it). Recently, I played this recording of it for my wife, Akiko, whose ears for music are tremendous as she hears many things that slip past me. As we were listening, all of a sudden she said, “Hey, this piece could be your third movement”! I said “what a great idea” and I shared it with Pinar and Susana and they both loved it! Originally it was written for only one piano, but I spent the following week and re-wrote it as a two-piano piece. They are rehearsing it as I am writing this blog.
Another project I am working on is putting together a book of all the scores and songs I collaborated on with my dear friend David Livingston. David is the Music Director for Nativity Lutheran, where I met him 20 years ago. He hired me as the keyboardist. He is a woodwind specialist and a master of the recorder. My experiences working with him have been so rich in variety. He programs some of the usual Sunday morning-type hymns, but his main focus employs a universalist kind of music that includes a vast range of musical styles such as Jazz, Celtic, Baroque, Renaissance, Classical, Global, popular songs, Broadway musicals, and a body of eclectic titles that makes one breathless with so many divine offerings, invariably preserving and honoring the sacred messages that each musical selection is guiding us towards. His musical choices are a sermon onto itself. They celebrate the sacred and divine uniqueness that we all share, making us whole and renewed if this is what we are seeking.
Together we created at least 50 works of music, with David mostly writing the words while I wrote the music. I’m in the middle of cleaning up all the scores to make sure they are presentable in the clearest and most pleasing way possible. I dearly love the work we’ve done together and hope our music will enjoy “a place at the table“ among the mighty volumes of inspired sacred music.
Gregory Theisen Music-log
Some of my music related activities.