Ramon Salvatore | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Ramon Salvatore


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Ramon Salvatore is a champion of American piano music, the unjustly neglected repertoire he's already highlighted in two well-received CDs (the second of which is on the local label Cedille). For this free recital, sponsored by the Chicago Historical Society in conjunction with its ongoing exhibit on the Columbian Exposition, Salvatore's compiled a sampler from the Newberry Library's collection of solo piano pieces and transcriptions written by composers who visited the 1893 fair. For instance, there's the "Exposition Waltz," commissioned from Carl Koelling by maestro Theodore Thomas for his Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Gustav Luders's "An Afternoon in the Midway Plaisance" was inspired by the fair's picturesque national "villages." New Englanders George Chadwick and Arthur Foote, some of whose choral and orchestral works were performed in Chicago a century ago, are represented; so is Arthur Farwell, whose youthful "Pawnee Horses" and "Navaho War Dance no. 2" are believed to have been among the first classical works to incorporate American Indian melodies. Also included is a 1905 ragtime by Scott Joplin, who, of course, was not invited to play at the fair but had a jolly good time entertaining patrons of whorehouses along the Midway. Joplin, I'm told, was involved in a couple of scandals, the details of which, along with other juicy gossip, will be part of the commentary by music historian Ann McKinley of North Central College in between pieces. Sunday, 2 PM, Arthur Rubloff Auditorium, Chicago Historical Society, Clark and North; 642-4600.

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