Wideman Piano Competition finalist: Christine Bethanne Johnson
Originally uploaded by trudeau.
Once a year a small part of Shreveport resembles New York or Berlin, given the number of high-level musical performers gathered. The place is the Hurley Music Building at Centenary College and the event is the Wideman Piano Competition.
This weekend the small crowds who stop at Anderson Auditorium, Centenary, will hear extraordinary piano solo performances by young performers who've worked for years at an Olympic level.
Last year I had the good fortune to meet Wideman contestant Christine Bethanne Johnson at her host family's Yamaha grand piano. We discussed 20th century music and what I knew of Poulenc and Ravel. I asked for a brief performance of a modern piece from her repertoire. She chose a concerto by Dutilleux.
Told I had to leave soon, Johnson sat at the keyboard with her eyes closed for a couple of minutes. It is my belief that she was mentally running through the complex piece, finding the point at which her playing would match my time requirements. What followed was one of the richest concert experiences of my short life. Her very physical attack against the keys produced a salty wave of melody. We were drenched in music.
Having been baptized in the Wideman experience at the home of Kevin and Mary Virginia Hill, I attended several of the competitions. The lobby at Hurley was filled with an international group of performers and attendees. The performances were cerebral and energizing. Shreveporters who want to live as though they weren't cut off from New York and London might well find their home this weekend amidst those who bring us the Wideman.
Wideman Piano Competition: free admission.
Preliminary rounds begin at 11:30 a.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday. Starting times for Sunday's semifinals and finals depend on the number of finalists selected.
Hurley School of Music at Centenary College in Shreveport.
Mrs. Lester Senter Wilson and the Shreveport Symphony Guild.