May 8 Performance Will Feature “Variety Program” by 10 Award-Winning Pianists
SEATTLE –– Ten sensational concert pianists and dozens of talented young musicians will take the stage at Benaroya Hall at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 8 for the eighth annual Ten Grands Seattle benefit concert. Concertgoers will be treated to a musical variety show featuring classical, jazz, boogie-woogie, R&B, pop, original compositions and more. The virtuosos—all from Washington and Oregon—perform on a multi-tiered, rose-covered stage, playing as soloists as well as in various combinations, including all 10 playing simultaneously.
Tickets, starting at $42, are now on sale for this one-night-only event, which has sold out for the past four years. Proceeds support the Seattle Symphony’s education and community programs and other select nonprofit musical arts and education organizations.
Ten Grands Founder and Creative Director Michael Allen Harrison and Ten Grands Executive Director Kathy Fahlman Dewalt co-created the Seattle concert in 2008. The concert is also held annually in Portland, where it originated in 1999. Since inception, the concerts have helped offset budget constraints affecting music and performing arts programs in local schools and communities.
Fahlman Dewalt, a Bellevue resident and music educator, taught music for many years in public schools before establishing her own studio. She was instrumental in bringing the Ten Grands concert to Seattle’s Benaroya Hall and in adding the Seattle Symphony as a presenting partner in 2013. “We are especially grateful to our dedicated musicians and title sponsor RBC Wealth Management for helping us bring the gift of music to children in our communities,” she stated. “Together with generous donors and sponsors, we’re taking music education opportunities for local students to an exciting new level.”
“Presenting Ten Grands is a wonderful way for us to help raise funds for music education in our community,” added Seattle Symphony President & CEO Simon Woods. “The heartwarming spirit and enthusiasm of both performers and audience is incredible, and supports the vital importance of making music and music education more accessible for all.”
Participating musicians are Ten Grands founder and artistic director Michael Allen Harrison, a Yamaha Signature Artist from Portland, Oregon. He is known for his classical contemporary style, his creativity, his love of teaching and his giving spirit (largely through The Snowman Foundation, which he established in 1999). “Music education is one of the most powerful learning experiences we can offer our children,” he emphasized, adding, “With its ability to provide a sense of joy and healing, music should be accessible to all children.”
Nine other world-class pianists will be featured with Harrison: Colleen Adent, Yelena Balabanova, Shannon Cassady, Tom Grant, JJ Guo, John Nilsen, Arthur Migliazza, William Chapman Nyaho and Mac Potts. Adent, Cassady and Migliazza are making their Ten Grands debuts.
Several young musicians will also be showcased, both onstage and during pre-concert performances in the Samuel & Althea Stroum Grand Lobby and at private VIP receptions. These young musicians include winners from the 2015 Washington State Solo and Ensemble Contest which takes place just prior to Ten Grands.
Also during the performance, which takes place just before Mother’s Day, the Seattle Symphony’s Lullaby Project will be spotlighted as an example of the Seattle Symphony’s numerous education and community programs. In the Lullaby Project, teaching artists work with homeless mothers to compose personalized lullabies for their children, which are performed and recorded by Seattle Symphony musicians for the mothers.
On the morning following the concert, approximately 1,100 long-stemmed roses that adorn the concert stage will be donated to the Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park in Seattle. University of Washington Navy ROTC volunteers will place roses on individual headstones during a brief ceremony starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 9. The public is invited to attend. Photo by Cheri Brennan
Creative Director and Founder Michael Allen Harrison is known for his versatility and upbeat sound. This popular composer-arranger performs as a soloist as well as with a band, offering a broad repertoire ranging from movie scores to passionate arrangements for piano, orchestra, musical theatre and ballet. His Snowman Foundation has raised more than $3 million dollars in support of music education focused on youth.
Colleen Adent, a versatile soloist, arranger and accompanist, enjoys playing and improvising in a variety of styles. She has appeared as a guest soloist and in collaboration with internationally acclaimed artists, performing before audiences around the U.S. and in Canada, Europe and Australia. She maintains a private studio in Vancouver, Washington and has published and recorded a collection of original hymn arrangements titled Fount of Every Blessing.
Yelena Balabanova, a native of the Moscow region of Russia, is one of only 11 Steinway Artists in our state. Her concerts have been described as “magical” and “mesmerizing.” She is admired as a soloist, accompanist, chamber musician and instructor. Among many credentials, this award-winning pianist holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree and is a sought-after clinician. Her love of teaching led to the founding of the International Conservatory Studio, now located near Seattle.
Shannon Cassady was one of seven national finalists in the 2012 Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Junior Piano Competition held in New York City. In 2014 she became Washington State’s MTNA Senior Division Alternate winner. This multi award-winning musician has performed twice with international orchestras during the Music Fest Perugia in Italy. As a 10th grader at Interlake High Schools’ Gifted International Baccalaureate program, she maintains an impressive academic record and is active in several extra-curricular organizations including a swim team and a student-led nonprofit she co-founded called “Instruments for Change.”
Polished entertainer Tom Grant is a master pianist, accomplished singer-songwriter and pioneer of jazz fusion. This son of a tap-dancing father who taught him drums and piano has toured and recorded with several jazz legends and innovators. Since cutting his first solo record in 1976, his credits include a series of best-selling jazz-influenced pop albums dating to 1983 and appearances on CNN and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The Portland resident has also composed music for TV and radio.
JJ Guo, a senior at Camas (Wash.) High School, has performed with Ten Grands in Seattle and Portland since 2009. Last year he performed at WSMTA State Convention as a winner of Honors Competition. He has won numerous competitions, recitals and festivals in Oregon and Washington since age 10. He has studied with Dorothy Fahlman and is currently a student of Dr. Barbara Roberts and Dr. Renato Fabbro. This talented teenager also excels in the classroom and on the soccer field.
Arthur Migliazza is an award-winning blues and boogie-woogie pianist who began playing professionally at age 13. He was a finalist at the 2010 and 2014 International Blues Challenge in Memphis and has performed on some of the world’s greatest stages, wowing audiences wherever he appears. He is in the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame and last year won this state’s Best of the Blues Award for Best Keyboardist. In addition to being a popular performer, he teaches, often as part of the staff at the internationally renowned Blues Week at Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, West Virginia. His latest album, Laying It Down topped the Roots Music Report chart in summer 2014.
Multi-instrumentalist John Nilsen is a prolific performer and recording artist with an international following. Since first studying classical piano at age 6, his music has evolved to encompass his skills as a guitarist, vocalist and singer-songwriter with a versatile repertoire. A native of Seattle who now lives in Oregon, he ranks as one of the Northwest’s largest selling musical artists. Nilsen has appeared with Jose Feliciano, Jesse Colin Young, David Foster, Alex De Grassi, Kenny G and other luminaries. He founded the Magic Wing recording label 1987 and recently released his 19th recording.
William Chapman Nyaho, a Ghanian American who lives in Seattle, is a popular performer, clinician, visiting artist and professor. An acclaimed advocate of music by composers of African heritage, he has compiled and edited a five-volume graded anthology published by Oxford University Press. This award-winning performer has enthralled audiences throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and North America. The internationally trained musician has been a juror at music competitions on three continents and served on national committees for the Music Teachers’ National Association, College Music Society and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Mac Potts has played professionally since age 11 and is now 23. A resident of Kalama, Washington, he was born blind. He began playing at age 2, then started classical lessons before his 4th birthday. He is a veteran of stages from the Northwest to New Orleans, performing solo, duo and with legendary blues bands. In addition to the piano, this versatile talent with a “serious love of boogie-woogie music,” sings and plays saxophone, drums, percussion and harmonica. He is also an experienced, certified piano tuner and technician.
Ten Grands Seattle features 10 concert pianists on 10 grand pianos in a stunning, dramatically-lit, multilevel setting onstage at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. Ten Grands concerts, held in Seattle and Portland, are the creation of Northwest composer-pianist Michael Allen Harrison, whose vision is to “share the joy, the healing, the learning and the life-changing gifts music has to offer.” The concerts and the related Snowman Foundation were conceived in response to budget cuts affecting K–12 and community-based music programs. RBC Wealth Management has been the presenting sponsor for the Ten Grands concerts in Seattle since 2008, its inaugural year.
Founded in 1903, the Seattle Symphony is one of America’s leading symphony orchestras and is internationally acclaimed for its innovative programming and extensive recording history. Under the leadership of Music Director Ludovic Morlot since September 2011, the Symphony is heard live from September through July by more than 300,000 people. It performs in one of the finest modern concert halls in the world — the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall — in downtown Seattle. Its extensive education and community-engagement programs reach over 100,000 children and adults each year. The Seattle Symphony has a deep commitment to new music, commissioning many works by living composers each season, including John Luther Adams’ recent Become Ocean, which won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music and a 2015 Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. The orchestra has made more than 140 recordings and has received 18 Grammy nominations, two Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades. In 2014 the Symphony launched its in-house recording label, Seattle Symphony Media.
RBC Wealth Management is the presenting sponsor of Ten Grands, continuing its support since 2008, the inaugural year of the fundraiser.
Additional support provided by Alliance Communications, Classic Pianos, Evergreen Washelli, FrogBox, Mayflower Park Hotel and Yamaha.
Tickets, starting at $42, may be purchased at www.seattlesymphony.org, by calling the Seattle Symphony Ticket Office at (206) 215-4747, or by visiting the Ticket Office in Benaroya Hall, located on the corner of Union Street and Third Avenue. Ticket Office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., and Saturday, 1–6 p.m.