Grammy nominated pianist David Lanz graced the stage of the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center (PAC) last Friday evening for a concert full of his own compositions as well as ones inspired by The Beatles.
Lanz opened the evening with some piano improvisation from his first album titled “Heartsounds.” The tunes were very melancholic and soulful as he played them in a heartfelt and expressive manner.
For several pieces flutist Gary Stroutsos and cellist Gary Lanz joined Lanz, and together they created a harmonious and intriguing sound.
The second piece, titled “Madre De La Tierra” included both piano and cello. According to Lanz, the piece was written on Earth Day and was written as dedication to the planet.
The Earth Day piece was more emotional than the first one and evoked images of leaves swirling in the wind as well as autumn sunsets.
The third piece was called “Liverpool,” which was one of Lanz’s tributes to The Beatles.
After taking a trip to Liverpool, England, Lanz became more inspired to pay homage to them. He did not play exact covers of The Beatles’ songs, rather he took attributes from them.
It was interesting to hear the familiar melodies of The Beatles songs played on more classical instruments like the piano or the cello.
At one point in the program, Stroutsos played a variety of Native American flutes.
His solo piece was a song he composed for his Native American friend from the Navajo tribe. The piece was about the Navajo River, which he explained gives so many gifts to humans.
The flute he played sounded like water drops and reminded listeners of the sound of the trickling river.
“A Whiter Shade of Pale” was another piano solo Lanz played.
It had sorrowful tones but was very beautiful, passionate and it was described as semi-classical/semi-baroque.
Following this was “Penny Lane,” a much-loved melody by The Beatles. It was youthful, joyous and reminiscent of childhood.
Aside from his talented playing, Lanz also related well to the audience and shared many stories. It was interesting to see the progression of Lanz’s array of tributes to different influences on his life and career as a musician as he explained the inspiration for some of his pieces.
He explained that his rendition of “I Am The Walrus” has been described as chamber rock, which is a type of music that involves both classical as well as rock ‘n’ roll elements. It was more intense than his other works and included a dramatic ending.
Although he did not do exact covers of The Beatles’ songs, Lanz thinks that John Lennon and Paul McCartney have strongly influenced his composing style.
He said when he is writing he feels as though he is collaborating with them.
Later Lanz played a love song he wrote during the courtship of his wife, which he called, “Leaves on the Seine.”
It was very airy and imaginative and transported listeners to a place right alongside the Seine, in Paris, France.
The two last songs were fitting as conclusions to the performance. The trio played Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin,” a slower melody.
The final piece was “Sir George (Liverpool Farewell),” which was Lanz’s ultimate homage to the Beatles.
Lanz and his fellow musicians received a standing ovation, as the audience greatly enjoyed his music.
His personable performing style and familiar tunes created an entertaining evening and a time to reflect, pause and enjoy the more artistic things in life.