Piano concert to highlight Cathedral acoustics

| Susan Klemond | December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments
Pianist Steven C. will preform Dec. 10 at the Cathedral of St. Paul music from his 2014 album “Christmas Beyond,” which he recorded at the church. Courtesy Steven C.

Pianist Steven C. will preform Dec. 10 at the Cathedral of St. Paul music from his 2014 album “Christmas Beyond,” which he recorded at the church. Courtesy Steven C.

One winter night last year, pianist Steven C. Anderson was preparing to record a CD in the sanctuary of the Cathedral of St. Paul when he discovered that the echo his piano produced in the Cathedral’s vast, sacred space was like another musical instrument that could enhance his performance if “played” properly.

By adjusting the timing of his piano playing, he worked with the echo or “reverb” of the Cathedral’s acoustics for a deeper, resonant quality on his album of Christmas and winter piano music, “Christmas Beyond,” released November 2014. The effect, he said, doesn’t carry well during liturgies and, ironically, the Cathedral doesn’t have its own piano.

“The sound from the space became another instrument and creative partner,” said Anderson, who will recreate that music, augmenting it with organ, orchestra and children’s choirs, at a free concert at the Cathedral Dec. 10.

Collaborating with Anderson will be Lawrence Lawyer, Cathedral director of sacred music and organist, and acclaimed arranger Adi Yeshaya. The St. Cecilia and St. Gregory Choristers of the Cathedral Choir School will also perform.

“A lot of this concert is to say I had the opportunity to [bring in] my piano and record Christmas music here,” Anderson said. “It was really something for me, to move me and change me and now to invite people to experience the same thing.”

Anderson, who is known as “Steven C.” and lives in Lilydale, describes his style as contemporary instrumental/new age with elements of many styles. He has recorded 12 albums and performed with artists such as Mannheim Steamroller and the London Symphony Strings.

Steven C.

Steven C.

On the concert program are familiar and lesser known carols from his two Christmas albums along with other pieces. From the “Christmas Beyond” album, he will play a medley of winter songs. “I’m a true Minnesotan where I’m OK with winter,” he said.  “I wanted to capture the winter things, the wintry chill.”

Growing up in St. Louis Park, Anderson wasn’t initially excited about playing piano but later changed his mind. “I told my mom I wanted to be a baseball player,” he said.

Anderson eventually studied the organ in college where he also experimented with a variety of music and began composing for piano. He found inspiration from playing and composing in churches.

“I loved that sound, and it kind of shaped my music early on,” he said.

Most of Anderson’s work of playing, composing and producing is on the piano.  For the past 14 years, he has played for liturgies at St. Joseph in West St. Paul. After Communion, he often improvises and the congregation responds.

Raised Lutheran, he said it took time to understand the Catholic liturgy but he now has a feel for sounds of the liturgical year.

A musical partner Anderson has worked with for two decades — his Bosendorfer grand piano — will return to the Cathedral for the concert. The instrument is longer with four more bass notes than a standard piano, giving it a lighter action than other pianos, he said.

The concert represents something new for the Cathedral, Lawyer said. “I think it will bring people into the building who have never been there, and that’s probably one of the most important things for the music series.”

Anderson said professional sound engineering will make for an optimal performance. After it’s over, he added, he hopes to continue making music in — and with — the Cathedral.

More information and a link to free tickets for the event

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Category: Faith and Culture