It’s been 8 years since I last played background music as a solo pianist. When I was resident pianist at a London hotel, I blogged about the interesting conversations I had with hotel guests and what I thought I should play for the 3 hours in each of the 4 evenings per week. I came to the conclusion that a variety of music was a sure way to please everybody. I also recalled that background music required a balance of the familiar and the unfamiliar, including the familiar played in an unfamiliar way.
At times it did not feel like background music, but rather foreground music. When the people gathered around me and got involved in what I was playing, I felt like anything but a hotel pianist.
Tonight’s 2 hours at the white grand piano reminded me of those winter months in London when I sight read and improvised new selections every evening. Eight winters later in tropical Hawaii, I was not in a hotel but in an upscale holiday home where the residents could stay for long periods and get chef-prepared meals several times a day. There’s a swimming pool outside. It’s in the touristy area of Kihei on the south west side of Maui.
Tonight’s selections (in order of play):
- Blue Velvet
- Que Sera, Sera
- Tango in D by Albeniz
- Arabesque no. 1 by Debussy
- Traumerei by Schumann
- Nessun Dorma from Turandot by Puccini
- Pachelbel’s Canon in D – jazzy version
- Tea for Two
- Main theme from “Forrest Gump”
- My Heart Will Go On, theme from “Titanic”
- The Pink Panther
- Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”
- Nessun Dorma (request)
- Theme from “Terms of Endearment”
- Theme from “On Golden Pond”
- Clair de Lune by Debussy
- Yesterday (2007) – arranged by Anne Ku for ensemble
- Theme from “Jurassic Park”
- Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman from “Don Juan DeMarco”
- Over the Rainbow — my arrangement of the popular Iz reggae version
Dinner ended half-way through “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” As the guests entered the hall way and sat down, I was suddenly aware that I was no longer playing background music. The first request was “Nessun Dorma.” I had already played it earlier, but the gentleman wanted to hear it again.
“Will you come back?” several guests asked when I ended.
“Tell the management you want me back,” I said.