A grand old time: It was a sold-out show, for the second year in a row! The ninth annual Grand Piano Extravaganza, held during Commencement Weekend in May, included about a dozen works, the grandest of which was Rossini's "Overture to Semiramide," which calls for 32 hands at 8 pianos (shown here).
The brainchild of Professor of Pianoforte Peter Takács, the annual event has been planned in recent years by Takács and Associate Professor of Accompanying Philip Highfill, who conducted this year. Performers include both students and faculty members, and proceeds from the event support such piano department projects as scholarships. Because late May is such a busy time of year, it can be difficult to get everyone together for rehearsals. For example, all 16 performers in the Rossini piece did not come together until the dress rehearsal. How hard is it to get 32 hands moving in concert? "It's infinitely more difficult than conducting an orchestra!" Highfill laughed. "Somehow it comes together on the day of the performance."
The Grand Piano Extravaganza celebrates its 10th anniversary next year, and no doubt the show will be a sold-out hit yet again.