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< Daedalus Quartet in-studio video | Main | Cliburn Day One: We're Off and Running! >

Yikes, I'm a pianist, not a blogger!

Posted at 11:36 AM on May 22, 2009 by Greg Allen

Do you remember that Far Side cartoon where the elephant is on stage in front of a piano, saying to himself, "What am I doing here? I'm a flutist for crissakes!!" -- ? Well, that's kind of how I feel right now... Not only am I not a blogger, I'm actually sort of a curmudgeonly technophobe. I don't own a cell phone or a digital camera, and I seldom use my mini-mini-iPod (2GBs!). I don't text, I don't twitter, and I haven't posted YouTube videos of me practicing at home in my underwear.

But I am a pianist of sorts, and I'm also a Professor with an annoying habit of over-analyzing things... Like, for example, the issue of whether our Mr. Elephant should perhaps think of himself as a flautist. So, to start off, let's take a survey. How many of you, when reading the above headline, mentally pronounce the word "PEE-anist"? How about "pe-ANN-ist?" (Some of you may quaintly think of me as "that feller who plays the PYE-ANN-er.") Well, the correct answer is B, "pe-ANN-ist." How do I know that? Well, aside from the frequent embarrassment that occurs when people don't quite say "PEE-anist" clearly, slurring over the A and the T, the central fact is that the instrument I play is the "pe-ANN-o", not the "PEE-no." The latter sounds like a housetraining command to a dog.

OK, now that we've cleared the air in that regard, let's consider the circumstances that led to my being your friendly tourguide in the 2009 Van Cliburn Competition. If you followed the 2007 Cliburn Amateurs, you probably read blogs posted by "DY" for the Startlegram. Well, David Yeomans is my brother-in-law, a fine piANNist, retired professor and published author. David was asked to blog for this year's competition, but had to decline because of a long-planned European vacation that conflicted with the prelims. He suggested me as a replacement (a subweblogger?), so after undergoing a lick-and-a-promise vetting process by the Powersthatbe (and overcoming a fair amount of trepidation), here I am, plunked down right in the middle of this thing, rather than casually observing from the perimeter.

I'll be commenting on the music and the performances as I perceive them. I'll try to be fair, but am not working under a vow of consummate objectivity. I won't be doing much of the peripheral fluff; those inside exposés about Contestant X learning all of his repertoire while imprisoned in Siberia, or Contestant Y having only nine fingers, you'll find ample coverage of elsewhere. (Although I sometimes enjoy those stories as much as you do...)

So much for my maiden voyage into cyberworld...Stay tuned!


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