Music — Frederick Moyer, Jazzing Up Gershwin

Frederick Moyer, Jazzing Up Gershwin

by Jeff Rapsis

Pianist jazzes up Gershwin Moyer brings concerto to life with flash and verve

Frederick Moyer not only plays the piano. He talks to it.

During a performance this past weekend of Gershwin’s seldom-heard “Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra,” Moyer appeared to scat-sing through many sections, both during solo passages and sometimes while the orchestra was churning away.

It may have looked odd, but it sounded fantastic. Moyer and the Nashua Symphony came up with a winningly brash and extroverted rendition of Gershwin’s hot-blooded work, a lesser-known cousin of the composer’s popular “Rhapsody in Blue.”

The concerto, a full three-movement work in classical form, is a lengthier and more demanding work for both soloist and orchestra. Happily, Moyer and Nashua Symphony conductor Royston Nash were well up to the task, presenting Gershwin’s jazz-colored work as an athletic romp from start to finish.

Moyer had the work entirely under his command, playing with a clarity that was rarely lost even in the busiest of syncopated passages. Both Moyer and Nash seemed to appreciate the spirit in the score, which was Gershwin’s earliest major concert hall work and is infused with a “look what I can do with this” spirit.

As performed in Nashua last Saturday night, it’s a thrillingly  varied piece of music without any dull stretches. Curiously, the audience response was somewhat muted; the performance got maybe half the ovation it should have.

More’s the pity that the “Concerto in F” often gets lost in the space between “serious” and pops concerts. As Moyer and Nash showed, the work is a bright spot no matter what context it’s played in.

• And then there were six: A half-dozen students have been selected as finalists in the New Hampshire Philharmonic’s annual youth concerto competition, with three being from the local area. The six will each perform in a closed setting in Manchester on March 5, and the winner will be announced a week later. Judges are a panel of professional music educators from around the area. Finalists are Rachel Thompson of Bedford on flute, Shelsey Weinstein of Lyme on cello, Tim Gocklin of Manchester on oboe, Kristina Ypez of Plymouth on piano, Emily Greene-Colozzi on violin, and Sarah Chamberlain of Manchester on flute. The winner will be invited to perform a solo work with the orchestra during next year’s season. The students were selected based on recordings and applications that streamed in last month from around the state.

• Good opera news: Granite State Opera recently received an anonymous gift of $50,000 to be used to in part to hire the troupe’s first-ever executive director.

“This grant is a reflection of the increasing quality of the opera we create here in New Hampshire,” said Lilliane LeBel, president of the company’s board of directors.

Now in its sixth season of creating professional-quality opera in New Hampshire, Granite State Opera’s next production is “Rigoletto,” the Verdi pot-boiler starring a vengeful hunchback. Performances will be led by conductor Phil Lauriat and will take place at the Capitol Center for the Arts on Friday, April 29 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 1at 2 p.m.; for tickets or info, call 878-0539 or visit

• There’s still time: Anyone can send flowers on Valentine’s Day, but how many people send a barbershop quartet? The Nashua-based Granite Statesmen Barbershop Chorus and the all-women New England Voices in Harmony are expanding their popular Singing Valentines program this year to include a wider delivery area. Deliveries are still available on Sunday, Feb. 13th from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Monday, Feb. 14 from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Valentine recipients of all ages and both sexes are often surprised at their workplace, home, school or restaurant. They’re serenaded with a tender love ballad, presented with a beautiful red rose, featured in a keepsake photo, and given a Valentine’s Day card that includes the words to the song and a personalized message from the sender. A deluxe Singing Valentine is $39 payable by check, Visa or Master Card. Singing Valentines can be scheduled by calling (603) 886-SING. For more info, visit

• Celebrate with song: Warm up for Valentine’s Day with “Romantic Interludes,” a selection of classic songs presented by Belle Voci, a local group of professional-quality singers. Romance is on the program of a concert set for Saturday, Feb. 12. Belle Voci sopranos Karol Carroll and Martha Ebel will be joined by guest artist Kim Bolling; also making his Belle Voci debut is tenor Christopher Porth from Acton, Mass. The performance is on Saturday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 669 Union St.; tickers are $18, $15 for seniors, children under 12 free. For more information, call 848-7986 or visit


- Jeff Rapsis

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