World-renowned pianist Robert Tees performed at a Mother’s Day concert on Sunday afternoon, May 8, in the Library’s Common Hall. The event was sponsored by the Committee for Restoration Concerts of the Public Library of the Friends of South Pasadena. He received a standing ovation and returned for a short encore.
Approximately 140 spectators heard his play of classical compositions and “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin.
Another play played by Tis, “Sérénade pour Simon (” Sérénade pour Simon) “was of personal significance to him. Standing next to a piano with a microphone in his hand, he told the audience that composer Danai Vlase, his friend, created this piece as a gift to him in 2020. The play honors the relationship between Tiss and Simon, his much-beloved dog who passed away during the pandemic.
Before playing, Tiss introduced Vlas, who was in the audience. “The melody of the work has a musical message,” she said. Vlase, who won a Grammy Award in 2022 for best classic solo vocal album, then explained what she meant. She combined the letters of the dog name Simon and the name of the musician Robert with the corresponding notes on the musical scale to create a five-minute composition.
Thies shared with the audience that he, like many others, went through a difficult time during the pandemic. He said he couldn’t play the piece if he got it because of grief over the loss of his pet. “It was too beautiful and I was too raw,” he said. “I put it off for a year and a half.”
According to him, the work was performed for the first time in France, and this concert premiered in the United States. “Every time I come back to this,” he told the audience, “he discovers new treasures.”
The next event in a series of restoration concerts 2021-22 will take place at 16:00 on May 22 in the Library Hall at El Centro, 1115. The New Hollywood String Quartet performs with pianist Bernadenne Blach. The program includes a piano quintet in F minor by Franco and Op.76, № 4 (“East”) by Haydn. Tickets at the entrance cost $ 20.
Friends of South Pasadena Public Library is a non-profit organization that provides information about the Library and its holdings. To become a member or order season tickets for 2022-23 ($ 136), visit www.friendsofsopaslibrary.org.