Contact:  Centenary News Service

Editor's note: Portions of this release are the work of Rachel Reischling, Arts and Entertainment Editor, The Conglomerate, the weekly student publication of Centenary College of Louisiana

Ross Smith Piano Program April 2
at Centenary College to Feature 
Shreveport Debut of Winnsboro blues

SHREVEPORT, LA -- The Shreveport debut of Rzewski's Winnsboro cotton mill blues will occur Tuesday, April 2 when Centenary's Dr. Ross Smith performs a piano recital in Hurley Auditorium. Smith will also present selections from Beethoven, Chopin, Scriabin, Liszt and Casella in the 7 p.m. event, which is free and open to the public as a community service of the Hurley School of Music.

While at graduate school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Smith happened to hear Rzewski's Winnsboro cotton mill blues and immediately was enamored. The piece, whose opening and ending is "not music, but sound effects imitating machinery in a cotton mill factory," was elusive. After an eight-year search for the music, he was able to purchase a copy from an obscure Japanese publisher. The piece is based on a 1932 blues song, and promises to offer a unique listening and performing experience.  Smith will even use his elbows to create some of the effects of the piece.

"I fell in love with all of this music," Smith says, "and the 'Dante,' which is the largest piece on the program, contains love as an underlying theme." In Apres une lecture du Dante, the theme is played out in the tragic story of Francesca da Rimini, an unhappily married woman hopelessly in love with another man. Caught kissing by the unfortunate lady's evil husband, the lovers are killed and condemned to hell for their unspeakable love.

As Dante journeys through hell, he meets the lovers and hears their story with sympathy and horror. All of this is enacted in Liszt's music. "It is easy to hear the different high points of Dante's story," says Smith. "I can hear kisses-and perhaps more-as the couple meets clandestinely. As they are discovered, the violent murder of the lovers is horrifyingly obvious in the music as well. It's riveting."

Also on the program are Beethoven's 12 Variations on a Dance by Wranitzky, WoO71; Chopin's Scherzo in B-flat minor, Op. 31; Scriabin's Etude in C# minor, Op. 2/1, and Etude in C# Minor, Op. 42/5; and Casella's Romance sans paroles.

The pair of Scriabin etudes in C# minor, which are not often
performed as a pair, are especially meaningful to Smith.  He heard them
during graduate school and loved them at once. "The music is haunting and
filled with the profundity of Russian soul. There is a gorgeous melody
in the middle of the second etude that simply makes my heart melt."

Smith, an assistant professor of piano at Centenary, has been a
member of the faculty since 1997. He earned the B.M. degree from
Brigham Young University in 1992 and the M.M. and D.M.A. from the University of Michigan in 1994 and 1997, respectively.

The Hurley Auditorium is located on the east side of the Centenary
campus in the Hurley School of Music Building. For further information,
call (318) 869-5235.

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