Clued into classics

Clarke Reader
Posted 10/30/12

The nuances of classical music can be challenging for a listener to grasp, but pianist Jeffrey Siegel is eager to help. Siegel will celebrate the …

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Clued into classics


The nuances of classical music can be challenging for a listener to grasp, but pianist Jeffrey Siegel is eager to help.

Siegel will celebrate the 25th anniversary season of his Keyboard Conversations series on Wednesday at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., with “Claude Debussy: Clair De Lune, Fireworks and More.”

Siegel’s keyboard conversations combine some of the most famous classical piano music ever written with stories about the composers and the music they wrote.

“It almost seems unnatural for a musician to be talking so much,” he said. “We’re trained to communicated in tones, not words about tones.”

After performing concerts for a quarter-decade at the Arvada Center, Siegel has a following of listeners who make a point to attend his shows, according to Melanie Mayner, publicist for the center.

“He has built up a really loyal following of people, and when people attend the series, they often turn into regulars,” she said. “It’s so interesting to not only hear the piece, but hear all that he has to say about the composer and the backstory of the music.”

According to Mayner, not only are the performances perfect for people who are looking for an introduction to classical music, but it is extremely interesting for those who are already fans, and want to learn more.

Siegel is quick to note that the series is not a lecture, but rather a way to enrich listening experiences by taking pertinent and relevant information on what might have been going on in the composer’s life and putting it in non-technical terms.

For Siegel, Debussy is one of the best composers for getting listeners interested in what can be accomplished with a piano.

“I can’t think of a composer who enchants the ear more than Debussy,” he said. “A lot of people say that Monet had the greatest eye of all time — well Debussy had the greatest ear. He was a real gourmet of sound, and every note has a purpose.”

As it turns out, Debussy’s most famous work, “Clair De Lune,” was not a favorite of the composer, and he was reluctant to have it published.

Siegel said there is more to Debussy’s work than the subtle beauty of “Clair De Lune,” with the composer writing a spoof of the English National Anthem, coming up with his own take on the cake walk, a popular dance during the time.

The performance closes with “The Isle of Joy,” which Siegel describes as one of the most “sexy, sensuous and orgasmic pieces of music ever written.”

The Keyboard Conversations series has been performed all over, culminating every year in a show in London, but Siegel said the Arvada Center has always been a special place for him to perform.

“The audience here is a wonderful audience to play to, and there are always familiar faces. Everyone loves having this attachment to the music,” said Siegel, who lives in New York. “We’re living today in a more robotic age than ever and what music offers people is a chance to step away from that.”

The Keyboard Conversations will return to the Arvada Center in the spring and summer with performances of Schubert and Strauss.

For tickets and more information, call 720-898-7200 or visit


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