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A woman and her piano

Despite taking 31 years off to raise a family, a local pianist still debuted in New York City’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.
“As a musician, if you’re not playing music for people to hear, then I feel like you’re not really responding to your vocation,” said Navarro. “Music is to be heard, and it’s to be shared.”
After her success in New York City last summer, Navarro is in the spotlight again – this time on the radio.
“Reclaiming the Piano: A Celebration of Women’s Influence in Classical Music Repertoire” 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, she’ll offer her expertise on the history of women and the piano.
“It is the quintessential woman’s instrument,” said Navarro.
Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin all composed pieces of music specifically for women to play.
“When you look at piano music in the past, women accounted for most of the pianists,” said Navarro. “The whole idea of the concert pianist didn’t emerge until the second half of the 19th century.”
The program will discuss the connection between hoop skirts and modern pianos, whether “Fur Elise” should be “Fur Therese” and the countess and the composer – why Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” could also be called “The Proposal Sonata.”
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.
“When 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,” said Navarro.
This devotion to beauty wasn’t completely high minded. Part of the reason composers wrote beautiful music was to keep themselves in business.
“Women were the purveyors of that music,” said Navarro. “Women buy beautiful things. They don’t buy ugly things.”
Since the shift in classical music has turned towards the masculine and modernist, Navarro believes beauty has come up missing.
“One of the biggest problems that I think is facing classical music today is that too many composers are writing only for themselves, and they’re not considering their audience,” she said.
Navarro is not a fan of atonal music, and she isn’t surprised that many modern composers have small showings at their concerts.
“Why would people want to get up and get dressed just to be tortured?” she asked.
Rather than focusing on doing something that has never been done before, Navarro just hopes to create music people want to hear.
“I try to write music that challenges the performer and brings enjoyment to the listener,” she said.
“My 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 that’s pleasant. Even if it goes into sadder realms, I won’t let the listener fall into an abyss of despair.”
For those hoping to avoid the abyss of despair, Navarro’s compact disc can be purchased through her Web site www.renascencemusic.com.
“Reclaiming the Piano: A Celebration of Women’s Influence in Classical Music Repertoire” 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

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