Jon Hays isn’t just the first performer in the Juneau Piano Series, he’s also its founder and artistic director.
Hays, who grew up in Juneau, said for about a year he worked on putting together the series of recitals that he kicked off with a performance of fantasy pieces by Beethoven, Schumann and Scriabin Friday night at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.
“Since I am more or less representative to it, I thought I should start it and introduce everyone,” Hays told the Capital City Weekly over coffee before the performance. “It’s kind of a self-created pressure. I created a higher profile concert than I typically play.”
But Hays said some degree of pressure comes with nearly every recital, and the performances are typically rewarding.
“As a musician you spend 98 percent of your time practicing in a room, and a recital is a chance to show why you practice,” Hays said.
Plus, a higher profile is one of the goals of the six-recital series made possible by Arts2 and private donors. Hays said he wants to bring attention to piano music in general and the piano at the JACC in particular.
The Schimmel piano at the JACC was purchased last year for $25,000. The piano was picked by Mary Watson, who also organized the fundraising recitals that paid for it and was in attendance at Hays’ recital.
“I wanted to create a platform to use the piano,” Hays said. “I was there when it first got unboxed at the JACC. I think in Juneau, it has one of the better tones. It’s very friendly, it doesn’t take long to play well with it, and it has a huge dynamic potential.”
Hays’ performance showed off the instrument’s range with pieces that fluctuated in intensity and tempo.
The variety was intentional, Hays said, and his recital was meant to build toward a piece by Alexander Scriabin that would not be immediately familiar to many listeners.
“My program’s not the most familiar repertoire,” Hays said.
And other performers in the series, Nic Temple, Alexander Tutunov, Kyle Farley Robinson and Ioanna Nikou will likely also include some obscure pieces in their recitals.
“I’m hoping to highlight things we don’t typically have in piano recitals, which we don’t have a lot of in Juneau, anyway,” Hays said.
He’s also hopeful that the series will find a foothold in the community and receive enough support to become an annual fixture.
“I need the community to get the word out,” Hays said. “I’m hoping this Juneau Piano Series will keep going for years and years to come. For this year, I’m really hoping enough money will be raised, so there is a second year.”
More to come
Remaining performances in the piano series include Nic Temple on Nov. 16, Alexander Tutunov Jan. 18, Kyle Farley-Robinson Feb. 8, Ioanna Nikou March 22 and a group recital April 19.
All performances are scheduled for 7 p.m.
•Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at 523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @capweekly.