Concert will feature Bach played on a baroque fortepiano

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NORTH BENNINGTON — Pianist Andrew Willis will give listeners the opportunity to hear Bach played on a piano like those of the composer's time, when he brings his baroque fortepiano to the Carriage Barn at Park McCullough House for an April 16 concert.

Willis will play three of Bach's six keyboard partitas on the fortepiano, a 2005 replica of an early 18th-century piano constructed in Florence in the tradition of Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731), who invented the first successful piano action. Built by David Sutherland of Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2005, the piano Willis will play is very similar to those with which Bach was familiar from the 1730s onward.

For several decades, Willis has explored the historical development of keyboard instruments and their performance practice while committing himself to the study, performance, and teaching of the widest possible range of repertoire. After studies at the Curtis Institute and Temple University, Willis worked with Malcolm Bilson at Cornell University, where he discovered the joy of musical performance realized on historical instruments using practices native to each stylistic era.

Willis's broad range as a performer has produced a varied discography. As a participant in the first complete recording of the Beethoven sonata cycle on period instruments, his performance of Op. 106 was hailed by The New York Times as "a `Hammerklavier' of rare stature." As a modern pianist interested in contemporary repertoire, he commissioned, premiered, and recorded Martin Amlin's Sonata No. 7 (2000) as part of a program including other works by Amlin, Fine, and Copland.

Equally at home as a collaborative pianist, he has partnered soprano Julianne Baird in recordings of Schubert Lieder and Rossini songs, soprano Georgine Resick in early-Romantic song cycles, flutist Sue Ann Kahn in music of Rochberg, Schickele, Luening, Kraft, and Ibert, and cellist Brent Wissick in music of Chopin, played on a Pleyel grand of the composer's era.

A professor of music at UNC Greensboro, Willis teaches piano, fortepiano, and harpsichord performance and leads courses on keyboard literature and performance practice. He has appeared as soloist with such period-instrument chamber orchestras as the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, the Apollo Ensemble, the Magnolia Baroque Festival and the Philadelphia Classical Symphony. Recent recitals have taken place at the National Music Museum, the Bloomington Early Music Festival, the Boston Early Music Festival, the Strathmore Arts Center, and for early music societies in San Diego, San Jos , and Los Angeles.

A past president of the Southeastern Historical Keyboard Society, Willis serves on the board of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies and was a finals juror of the first Westfield International Fortepiano Competition in 2011.

Admission is by donation. For more information, More information, visit www.benningtonbaroque.org or email Sandra@benningtonbaroque.org. To access audio and video recordings of Willis in performance, visit http://andrewwillispianist.com.

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