September 10, 2009

NEC Pianist Russell Sherman to Inaugurate New Steinway Grand at Free Jordan Hall Recital, Sept. 24

Distinguished Artist-in-Residence, Turning 80 This Year, to Play Program of Preludes by Chopin, Debussy

By training and by personal good fortune the piano is my weapon, that all-purpose instrument capable of reproducing the patterns and colors of exotic rugs, rugged mountains, and mounted butterflies.  Never was a man happier with this accident and metaphor of life that fell into his hands.—Russell Sherman in Piano Pieces

Russell ShermanRussell ShermanNEC's Distinguished Artist-in-Residence Russell Sherman will dedicate the Conservatory's new Steinway piano in a recital of Chopin and Debussy, September 24 at 8 p.m.  The program, in NEC's Jordan Hall, focuses on Preludes by the two composers—Debussy's Book II and the complete 24 Chopin Preludes Op. 28.

Sherman will perform on one of two new instruments the purchase of which was made possible by funds raised during NEC's 2009 Feast of Music gala. The new piano was selected at the New York Steinway factory in May by a delegation of NEC piano faculty, including Sherman.

Music is a revolt against Time—time as the chronicle of equal moments and of mortal spans.  Music aims for transcendence, for the gathering of rosebuds and the rendezvous with eternity.  Music turns the mundane moment into a bower of infinite pleasure and redemptive understanding. –Russell Sherman, Piano Pieces

ChopinChopinSherman, who turns 80 later this year, has recently recorded the Debussy Preludes Book II on the Avie Label ( ) He previously recorded the Chopin Preludes and has returned to them frequently throughout his career. Like Bach's example of Preludes and Fugues in the Well-Tempered Clavier, the Chopin Preludes follow a sequence of the 24 major and minor keys.  However, as Sherman observes, the Prelude form in Chopin's hands became "an entirely new genre, each prelude an autonomous revelation unique in character and sonority, thereby capturing and authenticating transient feelings otherwise ephemeral.  Scriabin and others followed in this tradition, but Debussy consummated the task and paradox of making the moment both momentary and indelible."

DebussyDebussyComposed between 1911 and 1913, the Debussy Preludes Book II is comprised of 12 short pieces.  Although Books I and II contain a total of 24 Preludes, the composer made no effort to write in all the keys.  He also appended atmospheric titles at the end of each piece that evoke nature, landscapes, dance, character portraits. Among the most famous are the sultry habanera La Puerta del Vino and the brilliantly pyrotechnical Feux d'artifice.

There are two kinds of musicians: creationists and evolutionists.  The former believe in the fixed identity of each piece in the literature, according to the established characteristics of the given composer and era.  These are the Platonists.  The Aristotelians (and Zen Buddhists) have no such divine map.  The work of art, though bound by its genetic markings and indelible fingerprints, is boundless in the infinite elaborations of its destiny, and therefore in the range of its interpretations.—Russell Sherman, Piano Pieces

Russell Sherman's recital is free and open to the public.

For further information, check the NEC Website at:
Or call the NEC Concert Line at 617-585-1122.  NEC’s Jordan Hall, Brown Hall, Williams Hall and the Keller Room are located at 30 Gainsborough St., corner of Huntington Ave. St. Botolph Hall is located at 241 St. Botolph St. between Gainsborough and Mass Ave.


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music and jazz.

NEC presents more than 600 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, 106-year old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory