Composers Ilya Levinson, Elbio Barilari, and Maragarita Zelenaia are hard at work creating brand new works for Pianissimo!'s first performances on Make Music Chicago Day. on June 21st and our Chicago Debut in the Fall of 2015. Plus we are working together on some of our own original arrangements- a big surprise!
It's been my dream for many years to create and be a part of a large, multi-piano ensemble. It's not as if I am lacking in piano partners or anything like that- I have enjoyed a long duo piano career with my husband, Steve Greene and new friend and colleague, Irina Feoktistova. But, recollections of a one-time performance of Liszt's Hexameron with 5 other pianists, and an old video of a Monster Piano Concert dating back to 1990, kept hidden in a closet, were just haunting me, but necessarily suppressed due to other ongoing musical committments over the years.
Enter a newcomer to Chicago- Yana Reznik. We met on Facebook, and then decided to meet for lunch at the Artist's Cafe in early December 2014. Displaying an abundance of energy and enthusiasm, she struck me as someone who might be interested in a new endeavor such as a large piano ensemble. And while she was telling me of her marvelous ambitions to start a TV series, I began telling her about my ambition to start a large piano ensemble. Clearly of a similar virtuosic temperament, we jointly agreed upon forming a multi-piano ensemble of just women pianists- and the choices of who to invite to join us became clear instantaneously: Irina, my current duo partner, Svetlana and Elena, another distinguished duo piano team and mutual friends, Ani, a collaborative artist with cellist Ian Maksin, and Marta, pianist of the Lincoln Trio. The biggest question for all of us active concert pianists was whether each of us would have the time or interest to join forces in another ensemble. Would we be a one-time event, or should we be a permanent ensemble? Would we even get along? What music would we play? How would we manage to get SEVEN PIANOS on a stage?
I quickly designed a website collecting photos and info about each of us, and randomly assigning us a name- The Chicago Seven, changed it to Sheridan Seven, The Windy City Seven......and went through a whole brainstorming session with the girls on January 3rd. Over glasses of wine and delicacies left over from New Year's festivities, we discussed anything and everything you could imagine and had a great time together! Svetlana came up with a great new name, Pianissimo Ensemble, which we have now shortened to Pianissimo! We delegated responsibilities, selected a date for our first professional group photo shoot (February 15th- being organized by our cutting-edge, fashion-forward member, Ani), and discussed our MUSIC! Elena and I came up with two great themes for our concert programming, and we all started working with composers and soliciting new works, arrangements and transcriptions for our big "Debut" next Fall 2015.
Our "preview" performances will take place on June 21st- the Summer Soltice, and Make Music Chicago Day!
So, come witness and be a part of the BIRTH of a NEW, UNIQUE AND EXCITING ENSEMBLE:
Pianissimo! We're anything but!
Susan Merdinger, Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Pianissimo!- along with Svetlana, Yana, Ani, Irina, Elena and Marta