This year’s “Simply Piano” event at the Smith Opera House featured a music selection to honor President Mark D. Gearan, who also played in the series. The music selection, titled “Crowd Pleasers,” reflected Gearan’s passion for popular tunes and featured familiar pop songs.
Gearan says he remembers his mother telling him to “have fun” with the piano, and to “play so that other people will have fun listening.” The event was an ode to Gearan’s light-hearted piano-playing philosophy and his many contributions to the Smith as his 18-year tenure as president of HWS draws to a close.
The event took place on Sunday, March 5.
“As president of HWS, Mark included the Smith on the HWS map, bringing speakers and concerts here, and encouraging student internships and board service among faculty and staff,” says Interim Executive Director of the Smith Jan Regan. “It’s great fun that Mark has loved this event, and we were happy to welcome him back at our keyboard, and to take the opportunity to thank him for his contributions.”
Joining Gearan on stage was Assistant Professor of Music Mark Olivieri, HWS Applied Piano Instructors Meg Cognetta Heaton and Troy Slocum, and local pianists Hilda Lam Collins, Lisa Gibson and Stan Proffitt.
The concert also celebrated the piano itself, a nine-foot Steinway D Concert Grand donated in 1995 by local philanthropist Mary Lienk. The piano debuted on Nov. 18, 1995, with an introductory concert. Since then, it has been played by local artists in addition to well-known performers like Billy Joel, Simone Dinnerstein, Natalie Merchant and Roger Steptoe.
A light reception followed the concert in the Smith Opera House lobby, allowing the audience to greet the players.
The event was a fundraiser for the Smith.