Symphony to host piano soloist
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Thursday, February 14, 2013
2/14/13 at 4:43 AM
It's been a busy week for Tulsa musician Amy Cottingham.
Last Saturday, she was on stage at the Tulsa PAC, as the orchestral pianist for the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra during its performance of Michael Daugherty's composition "Route 66."
On Monday, Cottingham hosted the 32nd installment of her Monthly Musicales, a series of intimate concerts that feature local performers and a wide array of music - this most recent event showcased everyone from 12-year-old fiddler Kayla Bender to singer-songwriter Jesse Aycock, from members of the Tulsa Symphony to a young jazz combo called the Passing Tones.
And, this coming Saturday, Cottingham will again be on stage with an orchestra - this time as the soloist for the Piano Concerto No. 1 by Shostakovich, one of the works the Signature Symphony at Tulsa Community College will perform as part of its all-Shostakovich program.
The concert will also include the Symphony No. 10 and Jazz Suite No. 1.
"Barry (Epperley, the orchestra's artistic director) told me this concerto was one of the pieces he wanted to do before he retired," Cottingham said. "It's always a pleasure to work with Barry. He's given me - and a lot of other Tulsa musicians - so many great opportunities over the years."
Still, the prospect of performing this piece has been a little daunting.
"It's been a while since I've made myself learn something this big," Cottingham said. "And while I've always loved Shostakovich's music, this is the first time I've had the chance to perform this concerto. So this has been a unique challenge for me."
But trying new things and pushing herself in new musical directions has been something Cottingham has done for much of her life in music.
The Tulsa native began playing piano at age 3, and took up the violin not long after that. She holds a bachelor's degree in piano from Oral Roberts University and a master's in orchestral conducting from Oklahoma State University.
In addition to working with the city's two orchestras as orchestral pianist, she performed in solo recitals around town, as well as collaborating with vocalists Annie Ellicott and Christopher Middlebrook to explore jazz, pop and rock styles.
Cottingham's own compositions have ranged from songs to an orchestral piece commissioned by the Signature Symphony in 2004, titled "Overture for Freedom: The Fight to Overcome," with Cottingham conducting its world premiere performance.
She's currently in the midst of recording a CD of her new music, mostly instrumental works, although Cottingham said the disc may contain "a couple of hard-rock pieces."
Then there are the Musicales, which began more than three years ago as a one-off home concert.
"And it kind of grew from there," Cottingham said. "There is so much talent in this town, and while we may go to each other's concerts, sometimes it's more difficult to get to know each other. This way, we're not in a formal concert setting - we're in someone's house, there's food and wine a-plenty, and people are able to relax and enjoy what everyone has to offer."
As for what the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 has to offer, Cottingham said, "The way I see this, it's a little like a toy store, where the toys come to life after midnight. And then things start going wrong.
"Tonal harmonies start to clash, things get very dark in the second movement," she said, "and it ends in a kind of triumphant way, with a number of C-major chords going bang bang bang. It's like he's hammering home this 'You WILL be happy' idea."
Cottingham also hears elements of Mozart and Beethoven in the concerto, as well as music that recalls the more Romantic composers such as Liszt.
"It's that variety that really appeals to me," she said. "And he makes you use the entire keyboard in the course of this concerto - you have to kind of camp out at either end of the keyboard for a while in some passages."
‘THE MANY FACES OF DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH,’ PRESENTED BY THE SIGNATURE SYMPHONY
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: VanTrease PACE, 10300
E. 81st St.
Tickets: $21.75-$32.50. 918-
Original Print Headline: Symphony to host pianist
James D. Watts Jr 918-581-8478
Amy Cottingham, a pianist and composer who conducts musical events all over Tulsa, will be the soloist for the Signature Symphony on Saturday. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World