For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dr. John Salmon, he has been a faculty member of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro since 1989. John is also a fine pianist who has performed throughout the world as a classical and jazz artist. His own piano compositions can be heard on a CD, “Salmon is a Jumpin’“. He has recorded the works of Dave Brubeck (John Salmon Plays Brubeck) and Nikolai Kapustin (Kapustin Sonatas, Preludes, and Etudes). His music volumes include Add-on Bach, Jazz Up the Inventions and Jazz Standards arranged by John Salmon.
On Monday, March 5, 2018, we treated the professor to a gourmet lunch of lemon dill baked salmon steaks (“I get to eat myself”, John chortled.), roasted butternut squash and other seasonal veggies followed by coffee and lemon squares. Yum!
After the feast, John entertained us with impromptu improvisations on our Mason & Hamlin 1903 parlor grand and Roland D-2000.
It was a treat to have mein Vati (my dad) call in from Las Vegas to chat in German with John and share musical stories. We eavesdropped on my dad regaling John with a story about his cello teacher, back in the day, who ended each lesson with a mean martini. Well, well!
After sharing stories and deep philosophical discussions around the themes of tempus fugit and the seemingly magical randomness of wonderful encounters like ours, it was time for John to head back to our esteemed colleague, Dmitry Rachmanov‘s home to prepare for the evening’s concert.
CSUN’s Cypress Hall hosted two Steinway concert grand pianos that evening.
Dr. Salmon opened the program with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita in B-flat Major, BWV 825, followed by Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata in G Major, Opus 14, No. 2. Watching and listening to John’s performances was a master class in technique and style.
Next up we were treated to John’s brilliant and soulful performances of four Dave Brubeck pieces:
Glances – Overture, Struttin’, Blue Aria, Doin’the Charleston
In Your Own Way
It’s a Raggy Waltz.
The evening would not have been complete without Dr. Salmon’s witty and joyous duet arrangements of four Johann Sebastian Bach Inventions. Dr. Dmitry Rachmanov played “straight man” to John’s reparté.
No. 8 in F Major, BWV 779 – with added continuo part by John Salmon
No. 8 in F Major, BWV 779 – “Great Bach’s Afire” version
No. 14 in B-flat Major, BWV 785 – with added line by John Salmon
No. 14 in B-flat Major, MWV 785 – “Bachy Boogie” arranged by John Salmon
These fun and challenging pieces can be found in Dr. Salmon’s Add-On Bach music publication. According to John, “Adding notes to Bach doesn’t have to be limited to an occasional trill or mordent! Bach was prolific and daring. Why shouldn’t modern keyboardists have the same spirit of adventure?”
Video clips of Great Bach’s Afire and Bachy Boogie can be found on Pastimes for a Lifetime’s Facebook page. Please excuse my amateur video skills… It was all I could do to hold the iPhone upright while gleefully chuckling.
To learn more about Dr. John Salmon, visit his website and Facebook page. Subscribe to his YouTube channel for the latest performances.
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For more on Pastimes for a Lifetime’s Piano Curriculum and founder/instructor Linda Wehrli, visit the website.
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