Despite taking 31 years off to raise a family, a local pianist still debuted in New York Cityâ€™s Carnegie Hall to three standing ovations.
Maria Navarro, a pianist and composer, spent her youth being classically trained by distinguished teachers. While raising two children, she continued to play and compose, but rarely performed.
â€œAs a musician, if youâ€™re not playing music for people to hear, then I feel like youâ€™re not really responding to your vocation,â€ said Navarro. â€œMusic is to be heard, and itâ€™s to be shared.â€
After her success in New York City last summer, Navarro is in the spotlight again â€“ this time on the radio.
â€œReclaiming the Piano: A Celebration of Womenâ€™s Influence in Classical Music Repertoireâ€ will play on Sunday at 6 p.m. on WDAV 89.9 FM and www.wdav.org.
Navarro will not be playing her own compositions. Instead, sheâ€™ll offer her expertise on the history of women and the piano.
â€œIt is the quintessential womanâ€™s instrument,â€ said Navarro.
Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin all composed pieces of music specifically for women to play.
â€œWhen you look at piano music in the past, women accounted for most of the pianists,â€ said Navarro. â€œThe whole idea of the concert pianist didnâ€™t emerge until the second half of the 19th century.â€
The program will discuss the connection between hoop skirts and modern pianos, whether â€œFur Eliseâ€ should be â€œFur Thereseâ€ and the countess and the composer â€“ why Beethovenâ€™s â€œMoonlight Sonataâ€ could also be called â€œThe Proposal Sonata.â€
Along with these historical tidbits, the program will include classical works written for women performed by Ivy Zohra Adrian, a New York City concert pianist.
â€œWhen you look at the repertoire of classical piano music in the past, the classical music, it always had a very harmonious and beautiful texture to it,â€ said Navarro.
This devotion to beauty wasnâ€™t completely high minded. Part of the reason composers wrote beautiful music was to keep themselves in business.
â€œWomen were the purveyors of that music,â€ said Navarro. â€œWomen buy beautiful things. They donâ€™t buy ugly things.â€
Since the shift in classical music has turned towards the masculine and modernist, Navarro believes beauty has come up missing.
â€œOne of the biggest problems that I think is facing classical music today is that too many composers are writing only for themselves, and theyâ€™re not considering their audience,â€ she said.
Navarro is not a fan of atonal music, and she isnâ€™t surprised that many modern composers have small showings at their concerts.
â€œWhy would people want to get up and get dressed just to be tortured?â€ she asked.
Rather than focusing on doing something that has never been done before, Navarro just hopes to create music people want to hear.
â€œI try to write music that challenges the performer and brings enjoyment to the listener,â€ she said.
â€œMy music has more of a story telling effect where it changes from mood to mood, scene to scene. It takes the listener on an acoustical journey thatâ€™s pleasant. Even if it goes into sadder realms, I wonâ€™t let the listener fall into an abyss of despair.â€
For those hoping to avoid the abyss of despair, Navarroâ€™s compact disc can be purchased through her Web site www.renascencemusic.com.
â€œReclaiming the Piano: A Celebration of Womenâ€™s Influence in Classical Music Repertoireâ€ will play on Sunday at 6 p.m. on WDAV 89.9 FM. Listeners can also tune in at www.wdav.org.
by Sarah Grano