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February 11, 2003

Birmingham-Southern professor to introduce local youth to piano, classics

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—An internationally acclaimed pianist and Birmingham-Southern College's artist-in-residence is continuing in February a concert series aimed at introducing local youth to the piano and the classics.

Steinway artist William DeVan began the “Classics for Children” concert series in January 2000 and offered it again in 2001 and 2002. The series continues this month with a performance at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23, at Forbes Piano Company in Homewood. The “Classics for Children” concerts are free and open to the public.

“I feel that when you live in a community, you need to do things in that community to promote the arts,” explained DeVan, a music professor at Birmingham-Southern since 1980. “This concert series makes sure the children hear classical music and feel comfortable hearing it in an environment that is upbeat and that is rather informal.

“One of my favorite things to do is play for children. I remember how exciting—and life-changing—it was for me to hear classical music as a child.”

DeVan will present the piano music of Frederic Chopin, well known for its great beauty and innovation. He will perform 12 of the 24 Chopin Preludes, including the famous “Raindrop,” the C Minor, B Minor, E Minor, A Major, and D Minor Preludes. In addition to playing the piano, DeVan will discuss the music he's playing and explain important musical concepts, including the special effects, colors, and techniques used to produce the appropriate sound at the piano. He also will answer questions from the children.

A native of Pine Hill, Ala., DeVan received his bachelor's and master's degrees from The Juilliard School. He also studied piano in Germany, receiving the Konzertexamen Diploma in 1979 from the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover.

In 1975, he became the only American pianist ever to win the “Vianna da Motta” competition in Lisbon, Portugal. He also has toured, appeared in numerous concerts, performed recitals, and presented master classes in the United States, Australia, Croatia, France, Germany, Israel, Canada, and Taiwan, among other locations.

A recipient of two Mellon Foundation grants, DeVan is co-author of “Schumann: Solo Piano Literature,” a comprehensive guide to the piano works of Robert Schumann.

 

 
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