For my birthday this year, my three sons gave me two tickets to see the great American pianist George Winston.
The concert was last week at the beautiful and intimate Sellersville Theater, and my youngest son and I sat mesmerized for over two hours watching George play a wide variety of music on the piano, as well as on acoustic guitar and harmonica.
Here was the set list:
- Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving/ Mika’s 3/4 Blues
- Colors/ Tamarac Pines
- Linus & Lucy/ Halloween/ The Great Pumpkin Waltz
- Moon/ Lights in the Sky
- Chase (stride piano piece)
- Hawaiian Slack Key guitar medley: Hawaiian Slack Key guitar medley: Kane’s Tune/ E Lilue E/ Radio Hula /Moana Chimes / Kane’s Tune
- Prelude/ Carol of the Bells/ Cloudburst
- Returning/ The Cradle
- More Than You Know (Bouquet 1)
- Pixie #13 in C (Gobajie – A Foggy Day)
- Harmonica piece: Kai Forest 2
- Building the Snowman/ The Snowman’s Music Box Dance
- Moonlight Drive (by the Doors)
- Encore – guitar piece: You Send Me
(I’ve included videos I found online of some of these performances at the end of this post.)
For those of you who may not be familiar with some of George’s work, here are some excerpts from his bio on Wikipedia:
- George is best known for his solo piano recordings; several of his albums from the early 1980s have sold millions of copies each. He plays in three styles: the melodic approach he developed that he calls “rural folk piano”; stride piano; and his primary interest, New Orleans R&B piano.
- Among his most famous works are his recordings of the theme music Vince Guaraldi wrote for the Peanuts cartoons.
- In addition to his piano work, Winston plays solo harmonica (mainly Appalachian fiddle tunes and ballads) and solo acoustic guitar (mainly Appalachian fiddle tunes and Hawaiian slack-key guitar pieces).
George’s devotion to his music comes through quite clearly on his website, where he has one of the most extensive Q&A sections I have ever seen. He answers each question thoughtfully and with depth. He also notes that he enjoys “giving workshops when I can for any age group, time allowing and there is no charge.”
It is inspiring to see a master of his or her craft at work, and last week’s performance fell into that category. We also got to see his creative side at work; on a few of his songs he put his hand inside the piano in order to get just the right sound out of the piano and its keys.
It was a wonderful way to spend an evening, and I thank George for sharing his gift with the world.
And a big thank you to my three sons for the perfect gift.
Here are some videos of a few of the songs he played last week, as well as a couple others, including my favorite song of his, Kanon in D. Enjoy.
Here is some slack guitar:
Here is some stride piano:
George on harmonica:
Carol of the Bells (I couldn’t find a good live version of this classic piece):
and my favorite, Variations on the Kanon by Pachelbel