Six pianists at the Ashe Civic Center for ‘Tickling the Ivories’

September 6, 2013

The sounds of piano music will fill the Ashe Civic Center on Saturday, Sept. 7, with the “Tickling the Ivories” concert.

The Ashe County Arts Council sponsors this annual concert event featuring seven pianists. Performing on the Arts Council’s nine-foot Steinway grand piano will be Michael Bell, Connie Hardison, Marc Hoffman, Bair Shagdaron, Betty Upchurch and David Wilson.

Tickling the Ivories will feature a diverse repertoire with selections ranging from Chopin, Bach and the classics to church and sacred favorites to contemporary and show tunes. There will be duets and four-hand selections as well as solo selections.

Michael Bell is a well-known musician here in Ashe County. He attended Oberlin Conservatory and is currently the accompanist at the Jefferson United Methodist Church. Michael has performed with the chamber ensemble Harmonia Baroque whose performers include Appalachian State University music faculty. Michael and his wife, Joanie are owners of the Greenhouse Crafts in Glendale Springs.

Connie Hardison is a retired Choral and Reading educator. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Campbell University. She is organist and choir member at First Baptist Church West Jefferson, and sings with the trio, “Three for Thee”. She is actively involved in the Ashe County Arts Council, sings in the Ashe Choral Society, and has been involved in the Ashe County Little Theatre. Connie and her husband Neal live in Fleetwood.

Marc Hoffman is a composer, performing musician, and author of educational and children’s books. A graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts with a degree in composition, Marc’s concert works, jazz charts, songs, and film music have been performed across the US and in the UK, Europe, and Israel. His original instrumental recordings include Long Way Home, JAZZ, and Late September. Vocal recordings include Christmas Time, I Will, and Dream of God, featuring the lullaby “Sleep Little Child” on which a book published by Virillion Music Publishing was based. Marc lives in his hometown of Salisbury with his wife and daughter.

Pianist Bair Shagdaron was born in Moscow, Russia and began studying music at age four. He studied at the prestigious Moscow Gnesins Music School for Gifted Children. He studied at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and graduated with degrees in piano performance and in competition. In the fall of 2007, Dr. Shagdaron joined the faculty of Appalachian State University where he currently serves as Professor of Piano.

This is the second appearance for Betty Upchurch with the Tickling the Ivories pianists. Betty continues to be involved in church and community music in Ashe County since her move to the High Country with her husband, Lewis, six years ago. Currently, she is serving as accompanist for the early service at Jefferson Methodist Church. Before moving to Fleetwood, she was accompanist for 10 years at Community Presbyterian Church in Pinehurst. Although Betty has an earned degree in music, she has delighted audiences for over fifty years with her own arrangements.

David Wilson, a native of Raleigh, is a senior at Appalachian State University, where he is majoring in music education in addition to studying both piano and voice. Outside of school, he is the choir accompanist at First Baptist Church of West Jefferson. He is heavily involved in many professional music organizations, including the College Music Society, American Choral Directors Association, and the National Association for Music Education, and is the recipient of the Bill McCloud Scholarship awarded by the N.C. Music Educators Association. He is currently conducting research regarding Achievement Goal Orientations in music classrooms and plans to present his findings at regional and local conferences. Wilson is a student of Dr. Bair Shagdaron and will be performing a piano recital at ASU at 8 p.m. Oct. 20.

Concert is at 7:30 with advance tickets available at the Ashe Arts Center or by phone with a credit card. The tickets are $12 adult and $5 students. For more information, please contact the Arts Council at 336-846-ARTS.