Our guest blogger today is concert pianist Sylvia Maiuri.
I’ve been playing the piano at the IMA for over 30 years in several different capacities. I recently came across some old programs from several chamber music concerts in the 1980s and a solo recital I played there in 1982. Through the years, I’ve played for several openings, including an exhibition of work by Félix Vallotton (an artist currently featured in the exhibition Snapshot), and in the galleries. For 20 years I was the pianist for the Cameo Trio, which gave many concerts at the IMA and became Piano Trio in Residence there a few years before it was disbanded in 2003. In addition, I played the harpsichord for “Christmas at Lilly” for six years.
When Ellen Lee invited me to play for the exhibition Snapshot, she mentioned the name Misia Natanson. This was a great clue for me to follow when selecting music to play for this exhibition. While Misia – a pianist who hosted an artistic salon in Paris – was a muse to visual artists (she’s featured throughout the exhibition in works by Édouard Vuillard, among others), she served as inspiration for composers, as well. Misia’s piano teacher, Gabriel Fauré, introduced her to Maurice Ravel, who was a student of his at the time. Ravel later dedicated a composition, Le Cygne, to Misia and his work Sonatine is dedicated to Misia’s brother and his wife. Also present was Claude Debussy, whose works Misia loved. Ravel and Debussy were friends of Erik Satie, who later dedicated his ballet, Parade, to Misia. I selected music by these composers to play at the opening event and in the galleries, and it was a treat for me to add to the ambience of this wonderful exhibition. If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating woman, a good resource is the publication Misia by Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale.
For more information on performances inspired by Snapshot, visit the IMA’s events page.