Nearly 450 pianists of all ages and skill levels will perform during American Grands XXIII on Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Elgin Community College Arts Center.
The "piano event of the year" will be held at 1, 4 and 7 p.m. in the ECC Arts Center's Blizzard Theatre located in Building H on ECC's Spartan Drive Campus, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin.
A celebration of group piano performance, American Grands features 24 pianists performing on stage on 12 grand pianos (two per piano).
Performers range in age from early elementary school to adult performers, and hail from over 50 different hometowns. Cordogan's Pianoland, located in Geneva, provides and maintains the pianos that grace the stage at this huge annual undertaking. Cordogan's has sponsored the event since its inception.
This season's musical repertoire includes an exciting and wide range of works including arrangements of "Clocks" and "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay, "City of Stars" and "Another Day of Son" from the movie "La La Land," Arabesque No. 1 by Claude Debussy, Sonata in D Major K. 381 by W.A. Mozart and "Beauty and the Beast" by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken.
Per American Grands tradition, all three performances will open with the "The Star-Spangled Banner" and close with "The Star and Stripes Forever."
"After 23 years, I love that we're still discovering new repertoire. We're so grateful that composers, arrangers and music publishers are publishing contemporary piano duets like the pieces we have this year from 'La La Land' and by Coldplay," says music director Larry Dieffenbach. "Including current music trends alongside the many classics we perform really connects our players (especially the younger ones) to the music and the performance."
This year will mark Dieffenbach's 22nd year with American Grands and 15th as its music director. He is on the music faculty at ECC, teaches privately in Geneva and is the organist and music director at the Little Home Church by the Wayside in Wayne. He also is founder and director of the St. Charles International Piano Competition. Dieffenbach made his orchestral debut under the baton of New York conductor Broch Macelherin.
Colin Holman returns as conductor, a role he has held for 22 of the 23 American Grands concerts. He maintains an active career as conductor and musicologist in the Chicago area as music director of the Loyola University Orchestra, Fox Valley Concert Band and the international award-winning Chicago Brass Band. He has lectured at both the undergraduate and graduate level at several area universities including Northwestern University, Northern Illinois University, North Park University and Wheaton College.
Tickets to American Grands XXIII are $24 or $15 for children, age 12 or under. Tickets for all performances in the ECC Arts Center are available online at tickets.elgin.edu or at the ECC box office located in the arts center. Box office hours are noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday. To purchase tickets by phone, call (847) 622-0300. All major credit cards are accepted.