Review | Keys Concert Series Ends With Fusion of Classical & Popular Music

From Keys Weekly. Read on their website here.


Florida Keys Concert Association’s (FLKCA) final concert was dedicated in memory of Bill Key, a great philanthropist and a major benefactor of the association. Four outstanding and talented musicians played South America’s tunes mixed with northern music classic compositions.


Pianists Michael Brown and Orion Weiss, cellist Nicholas Canellakis and percussionist Ian David Rosenbaum created a unique quartet to play American classical music infused with jazz and folk tunes. The Voyage was a concert through the continents, mixed music genres and complexity of human’s feelings.


The concert started with Aaron Copland’s (1900-1990) composition “El Salon Mexico for Solo Piano” and ended with George Gershwin’s “Cuba Overture for Piano, Four Hands and Percussion.” On his first visit to Mexico, Copland went to an all-dance hall in Mexico City and was struck by the spirit of the place. After visiting Mexico several more times from 1932 until 1936, Copland wrote “El Salon Mexico,” a symphonic composition based on four Mexican tunes.


The second piece was Leonard Bernstein’s “Three Meditation from Mass” and was arranged for cello, piano and percussion. The composition was commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy for the inauguration of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 8, 1971. Mass is “primarily a dramatic stage production … reflecting the reactions, doubts, protests and questionings – positive and negative – of all of us who are attending and perceiving this ritual” (Leonard Bernstein, Note by the Composer).


“They seem so talented and focused. You can see it on their faces. You can hear his (Canellakis, cello) breathing when he gets to a hard or an important part. You can hear a sharpened take of breath,” said Jim Kylis, one of the concert-goers.

Following Samuel Barber’s “Souvenirs for Piano, Four Hands” lightened the mood of the audience. “For a professional pianist it is a little bit lonely sometimes while practicing and traveling,” said Weiss. “So, it is very nice to play four hands piano. Four hands on one piano is very intimate for sharing the space and the keys. For those who don’t like it, it could be the worst experience in the world. It is a chance to dance together, even if you are not a dancer.”


South America’s composers dominated the second half of the concert. Two of Scott Joplin’s compositions lit the audience’s mood, especially his “The Ragtime Dance” tunes. The concert ended with George Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture for Piano, Four Hands and Percussion.” The composition originally was called Rumba and was written after Gershwin’s two-week vacation in Havana in 1932.

Florida Keys Concert Association ended its 2022 concert series of six very different, all very special in their own way concerts. Every concert was performed by the refined and very talented musicians.


The 2023 season will start in the middle of January. As usual, the FKCA plans to produce six concerts of two productions. The first production of every concert will be performed Mondays at Marathon High School. The second production of every concert will be performed Tuesdays at Coral Shores High School.