Shining Through

Sergei Babayan
Theater Jones

Blue Candlelight Concert Series continues to present internationally acclaimed performers that you can’t hear otherwise. So it was last weekend when the Armenian/American pianist Sergei Babayan dazzled the audience with is impeccable technique and musicianship.

Babayan was born in Gyumri, Soviet Armenia, began his musical studies at age six, and has racked up an impressive list of prizes in distinguished competitions, such as first prize in the Busoni International Piano Competition. It is easy to see why. Whether playing Bach or Chopin, his hallmark clarity was always evident at this recital on Nov. 4. But what was the most remarkable was his ability to switch styles from Baroque precision to Romantic rubato while still maintaining his own unique musical identity. ... »

TSO, guest pianist shine in Mozart and a symphony without an end

Anne-Marie McDermott
Arizona Daily Star

Mozart's Piano Concerto 27 is a musical conversation of sorts. 

The piano talks to the strings and winds, and they talk back, sounding at times like they are trying to get in the last word.

Then the winds and brass chime in and the strings quiet to a whisper until the piano asserts itself into the conversation.

That's how the piece played out Friday night at Tucson Music Hall with Ann-Marie McDermott at the piano and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra in fine form under the baton of guest conductor James Judd. ... »

At last, they’ll rehearse: Pianist, director reunite for Tucson Symphony Orchestra concert

Anne-Marie McDermott
Arizona Daily Star

Anne-Marie McDermott has a funny story about the guest conductor who will lead her and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra this weekend.

A few years ago, she got a phone call from her manager. She needed to be on a plane in a couple hours and fly from home in New York to Florida to perform Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto.

Thing is, the celebrated pianist hadn’t played the piece in more than a year. But she raced home, packed a suitcase and was off to the airport. For the three hours that the plane sat on the tarmac, she played air piano in her lap, going over the piece again and again. ... »