Annapolis is Lucky to Have Brian Ganz

Brian Ganz in performance
The first time I ever heard Brian Ganz play the piano was at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, where I am a member, and I knew I was hearing something special. Many talented musicians are members of the congregation and give freely of their time to perform as part of morning services and to also accompany hymns, but when Brian’s fingers touched the piano keys, the percussive stringed instrument began to sing. The phrasing of the notes, the pressure on the keys, and soulfulness of whatever piece he was playing told me a story. I was in love. I immediately wanted to know who was this pianist and when was he going to play again.
Over the years, Brian has treated the UUCA to concerts raising money for a variety of causes and he has been accompanist for The All Children’s Chorus, and the last half of 2010 he filled in as accompanist for the UUCA choir (too bad I’ve had to drop out of the choir due to lack of time to attend rehearsals). He does this all in addition to his teaching posts at St. Mary’s College, Peabody Conservatory, and his regional concert performances.
Now Brian has embarked on a new endeavor–performing ALL the piano works of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) within a ten year period. He got off to a good start this past Saturday evening at The Strathmore in North Bethesda. Pairing early works (some written by Chopin at the tender age of seven) with mature works in the same musical form. While he began with Waltz in E Major, written when Chopin was 19, and paired it with Waltz in E-flat Major, Opus 18, written just two years later; later in the performance he moved on to the Polonaises in G minor and B-flat Major written when he was seven and paired it was Polonaise in A-flat Major, Opus 53, written when he was 33.
Brian took a great deal of time, in between pieces, to share his knowledge with the audience. While some may have found this annoying, I enjoyed learning more about what I was going to hear. His next performance at The Strathmore, with the National Philharmonic, will be the Grieg Piano Concerto on March 12th. Take note that all children attend National Philharmonic concerts for free. As for another Chopin concert, you’ll have to wait until February 2012. Remember that everything is committed to memory, and it has to be exquisite. Read more about the Chopin project on our WhatsUpMag.com website.

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Arts Council Annie Awards Start New Decade


The Eleventh Annual Annie Awards took place last night at the Severn School in Severna Park. Created and produced by the Anne Arundel County Arts Council, the awards endeavor to highlight and support the achievements of local arts patrons, educators, performers, writers, and artists. One category sadly missing, is one to credit the work of historians and preservationists in our county rich with colonial era history. That omission was remedied last night when Donna Ware, current Executive Director of Historic Londontown and Gardens was given the lifetime achievement award. I have Donna’s book,Anne Arundel’s Legacy, The Historic Properties of Anne Arundel County on my bookshelf and I still consult it often, even if I don’t have as much time as I once did to write on historical subjects. Donna has many accomplishments, too numerous to list in this blog, but looks to young to be honored for “lifetime achievement” since she is still vitally active in her field and has many working years ahead of her. But, she greatfully accepted her award and the honor, as did all of this year’s winners, who each had meaningful and entertaining remarks to share with the audience.
Having been a past and founding member of the Annies Committee for nine years, and a recipient (in the literary category) last year, it was a treat to sit back this year in the auditorium and be an observer. I was impressed by the number of sponsors, including the providers of food and drink, and the large attendence. Particularly moving, and remarked upon by many afterwards, was the poem read by this year’s Literary Annie recipient, poet Temple Cone, an Annapolis resident who teaches literature at the U.S. Naval Academy. I longed for more sharing of the various winners’ talents as part of the entertainment and slideshow. But maybe next year. Well done work, Arts Council and Annie Committee. When we get all the photos, we’ll post them online at wwwWhatsUpMag.com. But until then, mark your calendars for their Bag Lady luncheon and Sale next month, Sunday November 7th at the Loews Hotel. You’ll probably see some Annie winners there!