McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 7, 2012

Concert pianist returns to city for 'Music and Poetry of Love'

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — Renowned pianist Peter Simon is returning to McAlester for a special concert presentation— and he’s planning on making it something memorable.

Simon is calling the performance “Love Notes, the Music and Poetry of Love.”

The concert is set to begin at 7  Thursday night, Nov. 8, at Lakewood Church, 840 S. George Nigh Expwy. It’s presented by the McAlester Area Arts & Humanities Council and is expected to include musical selections by composers such as Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms, as well as others.

Two of the selections Simon will likely include are “Clair du Lune” by Claude Debussy and “Liebestraum (Dream of Love)” by Litz.

Simon plans to pair the musical performances with readings from poets such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edgar Allen Poe, William Shakepeare and others.

Simon spoke to the News-Capital by phone Wednesday shortly after arriving at Tulsa International Airport from his home in Colorado.

“It will be a pleasure coming back to McAlester,” said Simon, who last performed in the city a couple of years ago with his son, Sailing, who is now in college.

Speaking of the inspiration for his performance, Simon said he’s always had a love of poetry and music.

“When I was growing up, I really loved poetry,” he said.

“You don’t hear much of that poetry anymore. I thought I would combine beautiful, famous, love poems with beautiful, romantic piano music.

“It’s really an uplifting kind of program,” Simon said.

He recalled his past in academia, but said he ultimately wanted to step out more into live performance.

“I decided instead of influencing 20 or 30 kids a year, I wanted to influence thousands,” he said. Simon said he had once lived in Tulsa and during that time, he performed in 80 different towns and cities across the state.

He’s looking forward to his McAlester performance.

“It’s a lovely church, a lovely setting, and hopefully, it will remind people of what’s really important in life,” he said.

Simon noted that many poets and composers have had difficult lives, but have worked very hard to create something beautiful.

Since Simon likes to meet with his audience, a reception is set immediately following his performance tonight, according to Mary Helfenbein, chairman of the McAlester Area Arts & Humanities Council.

She said the entire community is welcome to attend the concert and enjoy the evening of music. With the performance underwritten by Drs. Paul and Vickie Thomas, no admission will be charged.

“We welcome anybody to come, whether they’re a fan of classical music or not,” Helfenbein said.

She said that in addition to being an outstanding musician, Simon is also a great entertainer.

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