Piano turns 300; time for a party


The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with the Smithsonian Institution in a birthday party, worthy of its name, for the grand piano.

Pianist-composer Billy Joel will be the host of the invitation-only concert at Meyerhoff Hall on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m., which will feature performances by Ray Charles, Emmanuel Ax, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dave Brubeck and the man credited with the invention of R&B; more than 50 years ago, Pinetop Perkins. The BSO and Associate Conductor Daniel Hege will perform Grieg's Piano Concerto in A Minor with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Mozart's Double Concerto in E-flat with Katia Labeque and Robert Levin.

The concert is part of the Smithsonian's autumn blockbuster retrospective, "PIANO 300," celebrating the invention of the piano by Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1730) in Florence 300 years ago. The Meyerhoff gala, along with interviews and historical commentary, will be recorded by Maryland Public Television for broadcast next spring.

The instruments featured in the gala will be from the Smithsonian's own collection -- including a harpsichord, a fortepiano from Mozart's time, an electric keyboard, and a modern concert grand.

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