Benjamin Karp was in his car enjoying a classical piano piece on the radio when he heard the musician's name: Lise de la Salle.
“'Wow,' I thought to myself. 'And we’re getting her to perform here,'” Karp recalled.
As president of New Orleans Friends of Music, Karp is “pleased and honored” that de la Salle will be performing in concert here under the sponsorship of FOM Tuesday at Tulane University’s Dixon Hall.
De la Salle’s solo recital will include nearly all of the piano pieces on her newly released CD, “Bach Unlimited.” The 29-year-old French musical artist will play 10 selections by either Johann Sebastian Bach or composers who were influenced by him in their interpretations of his work.
Included is the full 14-minute, three-movement “Italian Concerto in F-major,” one of Bach’s most famous compositions.
Other works on the program include Bach-influenced compositions by Franz Liszt, Francis Poulenc, Ferruccio Busoni, Albert Roussel and Wilhelm Kempff. Also featured will be three selections by contemporary French jazz/classical pianist and composer, Thomas Enhco, with whom de la Salle has performed in recent years.
Born in Cherbourg, France, in 1988, de la Salle began studying the piano at the age of 4 and gave her first concert five years later in a live broadcast on Radio-France. Since that time, she has performed internationally in recitals and with some of the world’s leading symphonies, including those of London, Zurich, Vienna and Berlin and in the U.S. with the symphonies of Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles and others.
She is especially noted for her interpretations of the works of Liszt, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff, in addition to Bach, many of whose compositions are on her earlier CD releases.
She's coming to New Orleans for the first time, she said.
“I’ve heard so much about the city and I’m really excited to play there for the first time and to discover the atmosphere, the people, the food and the music,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for me.”
Vincent Sciama, New Orleans’ Consul General of France, will be on hand at the concert to welcome de la Salle.
Delving into the program details, de la Salle explained how and why these particular pieces were chosen.
“It’s to pay tribute to his (Bach’s) music with one big piece and others who decided to pay homage to him through different forms,” de la Salle said. These “forms,” she explained, include “transcriptions directly from his music” and compositions in which the notes correspond to the letters of Bach’s last name: B-flat, A, C and the H, which corresponds to B-natural in German.
The recital will run for about 90 minutes, including intermission, and will be followed by a question and answer session with the artist.
The post-concert Q&A session is one of this season’s innovations that Karp hopes to make a permanent feature of the FOM concert series.
Midway through his first season as president of the 63-year-old presenting organization, Karp said he is seeking to expand upon the accomplishments of his two immediate predecessors, Jonathan McCall and Margaret Shields.
“One of the goals of Friends of Music is to not only bring world class chamber music to the city but also to provide an education component,” Karp said. “Margaret was instrumental in doing this and so was Jonathan. I’m trying to get funding to make the program even stronger.
“Chamber music is described as ‘a conversation amongst friends,’” Karp said, citing a quotation he heard recently. “That’s what I’ve been trying to get across and make Friends of Music better in that way.”
Still to come for FOM this season will be the Venice Baroque Orchestra on March 7 at Dixon Hall and a residency and concert by the Miró String Quartet with Steve Cohen on April 9 at Loyola University’s Roussel Performance Hall. Cohen is the former principal clarinet for the New Orleans Symphony, predecessor of the current Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.
Lise de la Salle
WHAT: French pianist Lise de la Salle in a solo recital sponsored by New Orleans Friends of Music
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 20
WHERE: Dixon Hall, Tulane University
INFO: (504) 895-0690. friendsofmusic.org