Taking Mansions and Music to the Online Stage

Pasadena Conservatory of Music opens new virtual performance series with documentary film, “Musical Interludes|Alice’s Piano”
Published on Nov 13, 2020

Music and the arts have embraced every form of online technology to continue to create and inspire their audiences, as performing venues close all around them.

As so many others have done, the Pasadena Conservatory of Music (PCM) has adapted its performance calendar. Its 27-year-old “Mansions and Music” Series—where PCM faculty members previously performed in intimate and architecturally significant venues in and around Pasadena—is now a virtual series, described in a PCM announcement as “a bridge between pre- and post-Covid-19 concerts.”

“The constraints of the pandemic inspired us to find new ways to present concerts to our community. We are thrilled to have partnered with the Holocaust Museum. The film was greatly enriched by their contributions and the museum provided a compelling setting for telling Alice’s story,” said Stephen McCurry, Executive Director of PCM.

The series begins with Musical Interludes | Alice’s Piano. The documentary film is inspired by the story of pianist and Holocaust survivor, Alice Herz-Sommer.

PCM faculty members perform selections from Chopin’s etudes, as well as pieces that give voice to the Jewish experience. Alice’s Piano was filmed at the Holocaust Museum LA.

The film is narrated by Pasadena resident and Conservatory board member, actress Jane Kaczmarek, with commentary by museum staff, and a recitation of the Kaddish by Joseph Alexander, a 97 year old Holocaust survivor.

The music itself—Chopin’s Etudes— consists of sets of études (solo studies) for the piano, which were published during the 1830s. Twenty-seven compositions overall, the work comprises two separate collections of twelve, numbered Op. 10 and Op. 25, and a set of three without an opus number.

Challenging and evocative, the works require a high level of virtuosity and the pieces remain some of the most popular in modern concert piano performances. A number of the works are still used, in fact, in film and television productions.

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