Candlelight dinner with solo piano


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.

White grand piano in Kihei, Maui

White grand piano in Kihei, Maui

Tonight’s selections (in order of play):

  1. Blue Velvet
  2. Que Sera, Sera
  3. Tango in D by Albeniz
  4. Arabesque no. 1 by Debussy
  5. Traumerei by Schumann
  6. Nessun Dorma from Turandot by Puccini
  7. Pachelbel’s Canon in D – jazzy version
  8. Tea for Two
  9. Diana
  10. Main theme from “Forrest Gump”
  11. My Heart Will Go On, theme from “Titanic”
  12. Volare
  13. The Pink Panther
  14. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”
  15. Nessun Dorma  (request)
  16. Theme from “Terms of Endearment”
  17. Theme from “On Golden Pond”
  18. Clair de Lune by Debussy
  19. Yesterday (2007) – arranged by Anne Ku for ensemble
  20. Theme from “Jurassic Park”
  21. Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman from “Don Juan DeMarco”
  22. 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.

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6 Comments

Filed under arrangement, audience, communication, composer, composition, concert, piano, sight reading, venues

6 responses to “Candlelight dinner with solo piano

  1. How lovely, Anne! We would like you to play there again as well, and come here another wonderful evening of music that concludes with my favorite song, “Over The Rainbow.” Perhaps someday I can sing it with you! 🙂

    Sending lots of love from Denver and very much enjoying reading along with your adventures,

    Melissa & James

  2. Wonderful to hear from you! Indeed, what was missing was your lovely voice and a nice bass tuba to give it foundation tonight! Denver has been on my mind as we contemplate when to get together with Tommy again — and the 10th March deadline of Southwest Airlines $89 from San Francisco to Denver in May!

  3. Aw, I wish we were there to all get together for a grand evening of music, art, food and good conversation! But do consider Denver in May, would be lovely to do a concert together and there may be enough time to set something up. Let me know if you’d like us to look into it … 🙂

  4. Pam

    What an auditory post! Lots of tunes jangling in my head now……

  5. You should start posting mp3 files so we can hear the music!

  6. Frances Ku

    Very good list of songs. Hope you’ll get lots more opportunities!

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