Over 450 pianists of all ages and skill levels will perform during American Grands XXIV on Saturday, Jan. 26 at the Elgin Community College Arts Center. This celebration of the piano and those who love to play it 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.
The performances on Jan. 26 will feature over 450 performers. American Grands features 24 pianists (two per piano) performing on stage at once on twelve grand pianos. Performers range in age from early elementary school to adult performers, and hail from over 50 different hometowns. The grand pianos are provided by Cordogan’s Pianoland, the event’s sponsor since its inception. Cordogan’s, located in Geneva, provides and maintains the twelve grand pianos that grace the stage at this huge annual undertaking.
This season’s musical repertoire features a variety of works including many arrangements new to the American Grands stage. Highlights include arrangements of three Scott Joplin ragtimes, “Flower Duet” from the opera “Lakmé,” “River Flows in You” by South Korean composer/pianist Yiruma, and, to honor and remember the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin’s hit “Respect.” The performances will also feature pieces previously commissioned by American Grands, “Ode to a Bass Player” and “Groove Town” by composer Kevin Olson. Per American Grands tradition, all three performances will open with the “Star Spangled Banner” and close with “Star and Stripes Forever.”
This year marks music director Larry Dieffenbach’s 23rd 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/music director at the Little Home Church by the Wayside in Wayne. He also is founder/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 23 of the 24 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 XXIV are $24 for adults and $15 for children age 12 and 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.