Pianist Michelle Cann takes the Rosen House Music Room stage to perform works by Margaret Bonds, Florence Price, Clara Schumann, Johannes Brahms, and Frédéric Chopin. Here, Cann gives insights into her powerful program.
Interview by Yelley Taylor
Can you tell us how this program brings to life the piano as a solo instrument?
This program is full of songs and melodies. The piano is such a wonderful instrument to imitate the human voice. Even though it’s a percussive instrument, with the right touch and approach, you can sing through the piano in such a wonderful way. At the same time, the thing that’s also really great about the piano is its ability to imitate the orchestra. We can fill the space — we can give you the big bass lines and the intimate soprano melody. With the Florence Price sonata and even parts of Chopin’s Ballade, what’s really exciting is the ability to fill the space completely and to be our own orchestra in the music.
It’s long overdue. There are pieces that I’m playing that most people have never heard, and that to me is really a tragedy — it’s almost as if I’m doing a concert of New Music. Publishers didn’t publish their music so a lot of their music was lost or only recently disseminated. They deserved it in their lifetime to be a bigger deal. It’s up to us as musicians — if we find something we’re passionate about — if we find great music, no matter who wrote it, if it’s great, it should be shared. This music is powerful. The music is beautiful. And their race and gender was what stopped you from hearing this great repertoire.
Pianist Michelle Cann performs Sunday, March 20 at 3:00pm. Purchase tickets here.
Yelley Taylor is the Artistic Director of D-Composed, a Chicago-based Black chamber music collective whose mission is to uplift and empower society through the power of Black composers.