Encino resident and pianist Danny Holt will be part of the Jacaranda Garden party this weekend in Mar Vista. Holt will join fellow pianists Gloria Cheng, Steven Vanhauwaert, Genevieve Feiwen Lee and Aron Kallay, who will perform music by three generations of American composers: Nico Muhly, Veronika Krausas, David Lang, Tobias Picker, Alvin Lucier and John Cage, as well as compositions by Eric Satie and Olivier Messiaen.
about his piano playing and life in Encino. We caught up with him again this week, and asked him about his upcoming performance.
Tell us about the Jacaranda Garden Party program this Sunday. What will you be performing? What else can people look forward to hearing?
I'm performing solo works by David Lang and Nico Muhly, composers whose works were featured on last season's Jacaranda concerts. Lang's "spartan arcs" is from his set "memory pieces". Listening to these pieces is like walking down an endlessly fascinating hallway, where behind each door there is a unique and beautiful musical texture, and "spartan arcs" is one of the most quirky and challenging pieces I've played. It's a rush of cascading arpeggios that keep shifting in subtle and unpredictable ways, creating an incredibly beautiful texture unlike anything I've heard before.
I'm proud to say that my recording of "memory pieces" was the first complete recording of this marvelous work. Nico Muhly's "A Hudson Cycle" is simple by comparison, a lovely little piece that layers rich harmonies and undulating rhythms. I chose to include this work on my most recent solo album, "release." I'm also very excited to be joined by my duo piano partner Steven Vanhauwaert to play iconoclastic French composer Erik Satie's absurd WWI-era ballet "Parade" in its rarely heard duo piano version. It's a real treat!
Jacaranda concerts always introduce listeners to music that is rarely performed—20th century classical works as well as works by living composers. I think some people think that "modern music" is incomprehensible, or something they won't be able to connect to—but this is music that really speaks to people. I find that once people decide to come with an open mind, and with open ears, they usually walk away being truly inspired, entertained, and eager to learn more about less familiar music. Jacaranda concerts are a great way to open yourself up to some new musical experiences. Why listen to the same old pieces played over and over again when you can experience something new?
I always look forward to these Jacaranda summer benefit concerts because the venue is absolutely stunning: it's an intimate outdoor setting at a private residence, surrounded by beautiful sculptures—the pianos are great because David Andersen, a fabulous piano technician, is one of the hosts. It's a fun, informal environment where the audience gets to see and hear the music up close, and interact with the performers. I always prefer an environment like that, rather than being in a big concert hall and feeling so separate from the audience.
Last time we spoke, you were about to play a Schnittke piece with three pianists at the same piano. How was it?
The Schnittke 6-hand piano piece was a total blast! It's a really fun piece, so much energy crammed into so many notes for so many fingers! And I got to sit in-between two of my favorite L.A. pianists, Vicki Ray and Yana Reznik [see a clip of the dress rehearsal for the piece by clicking here].
Are you still enjoying Encino living? Have you discovered any new places you like to go?
Now that the academic year at CalArts is over and my teaching schedule is a bit less demanding, I have had more time to get settled into my new home. Although I'm pretty good with my hands at the piano, I'm not particularly handy with home improvement projects—but I am trying! And I have really enjoyed my frequent walks around the neighborhood on these lovely summer nights we've been having. Speaking of lovely summer nights, I really hope that my neighbors aren't disturbed by my practicing—when the weather is so nice I really like to keep my windows open!
Jacaranda Garden Party, “50 Fingers & 88 Keys," June 24, 1 p.m, Art & Music Atelier, 3587 Ocean View Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90066. For ticket information, visit www.jacaranda.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 213-483-0216.