Vijay Venkatesh

Pianist

Three Pianos, Six Hands at the McCallum!

Posted by on Dec 6, 2016

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The three performers, all Americans, were:

  • Scott Cuellar, age 26,  a WIPC first-place winner in 2013.
  • Evan Lin, age 20 – was a prizewinner in 2011.
  • Vijay Venkatesh, age 24, was a 2007 winner.

In addition to their world-class talent, the three young performers displayed astonishing professionalism by meeting only days before the show, with only three rehearsals and practicing only three times before a performance that required split-second timing.

Among the demanding numbers performed were Bach/Reger – Toccata and Fugue in D minor, arranged for three pianos by John Bayless.  Other numbers included Overture to Barber of Seville, and a six-hands arrangement of Mozart/Ulrich’s Magic Flute .

Speaking of Christmas

The first part of the show was devoted to concert performances but, for the second part, the performers changed from their formal clothing into casual clothes and Christmas sweaters to perform numbers which included Carol of the Bells, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Sleigh Ride, and another performance by the Opera Guild’s Anna-Lisa Hackett singing Ave Maria Op. 52. No 6.

The Christmas show ended with a breathtaking six-hand performance of White Christmas, and a playful encore of the pianists having fun with their own versions of Hava Nagila, which they dubbed “the Jewish answer to White Christmas.”

SPEAKING OF SPONSORS The reasonable ticket prices for this delightful event ($17 to $67) were made possible by underwriting from Dr. Betty & Cash Baxter, Mary Ellen & Cooper Blanton, Peggy Cravens, Dorothy Goldstein, Suz Hunt, Paula and Bill Kroonen, Monte Marts, OgnianaMasseer & the Michael Masser Foundation, Dixie & Dr.Joseph Schulman, Craig Vickers, and  JoAnn Wellneer.  Sponsor Ogniana Masser jokingly said she just wanted to “lend a hand” by hosting  a sophisticated cocktail reception for the three performers, supporters and committee members.

– Betty Francis, The Desert Sun