By Pete Zamplas
Hendersonville – Christopher Tavernier will play piano in a classical concert duo then in a jazz quartet, in a double performance people can hear and see streamed live for free on Sunday, July 26.
Tavernier, 20, is a rising sophomore at Florida State in FSU’s music conservatory. He is majoring in piano performance. He is taking three summer courses and practicing piano two hours a day, before returning on campus. This summer, he has hiked on “obscure trails.”
This is the second Music Festival the Hendersonville High alumnus and clarinet player Matthew Hanna performed music of French composers or those in France while creating major works. Tavernier is French on his father’s side.
Dr. Joann Freeburg is founder and CEO of the Music Foundation of WNC that produces the double concert. She hailed the “brilliance and range of French composers” of romantic classical and the French chanson and cabaret-style in more modern styles.
“Dazzling Taste of France” is the overall theme. Streaming is 3 – 6 pm on July 26, is live only, and the streaming cannot be viewed later. The streaming link is via https://www.facebook.com/88KeysAndAReed.
The performances were each filmed ahead and performed in one take (other than edited-out mini water breaks), for continuity and a live feel, Tavernier noted. The site was co-sponsor Freeburg Music’s showroom lobby, at 2314 Asheville Hwy/25N. in Hendersonville. Performers spaced apart, as a sanitary precaution. The quartet sat in a circle, to better see and cue each other.
Hanna and Tavernier go by “88 Keys and a Reed.” Their opening program is “New Sounds for a New World: The Chamber Project with a French Flair.” Its sounds are “all over the spectrum,” Tavernier said. “I like the contrast.”
There are four numbers in a row by Claude Debussy (1862-1918), starting with “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair” (1910) with simple harmony reflecting a young girl’s innocence.
The opener is the Andre Messager (1853-1929) classic “Solo de Concours.” A Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) sonata is followed by a brief intermission. The duo then plays pieces by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) and Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921).
Next is a Tavernier-Hanna arrangement of “Ballade No. 1” by Frederic Chopin (1810-1849). The finale is “Guisganderie” by Maurice Jeanjean (1897-1968).
Starting about 5 pm, the second/last program is The Mountain Chamber Quartet performing Modern Swing of Elegant French Jazz.
The 45-minute jazz treat is “Bolling Suite for Flute & Jazz Piano Trio No. 2.” It has eight movements; the last is entitled “Jazzy.” Claude Bolling (age 90) wrote it in 1973. His recording was nominated in ’75 for a Grammy, for Best Chamber Music Performance.
Tavernier calls the suite “modern elegant jazz” with a “bouncy” feel overall. Movements vary in mood and featured instruments. Most are a “dialogue between the flute and piano, he said.
The quartet has renowned area performers in flutist Rita Hayes and drummer Byron Hedgepeth of Asheville and Keith Freeburg on double bass, joining pianist Tavernier. Hayes and Freeburg were in a quartet two years ago, playing New Orleans Baroque in another Music Foundation of WNC production.
Hayes plays in jazz group Nuance and Braidstream that has blended jazz, classical and Celtic sounds for 30 years. She has played flute and piccolo with Asheville Symphony for 31 years. She has been on music faculties of Brevard College (for 28 years) and A-B Tech. Hayes has hosted a classical music program on WCQS 88.1 FM in Asheville, for 20 years.
Hedgepeth is the percussionist for First Baptist Church in Hendersonville. He drums for The B’s in the Grove Park Inn Great Hall and is Brevard Philharmonic principal timpanist. He founded UNCA’s Percussion Studies in 1981 and was its director for 24 years.
Keith Freeburg performs with Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra and Brevard Philharmonic. He is a registered piano technician with the Piano Technicians Guild. He and wife Joann moved to here in 1982.
“It’s such a great opportunity to work with them, with the caliber of experience they have in jazz,” Tavernier told The Tribune. “I like playing off someone else” (Hanna), or an ensemble. “The jazz music was written to require playing off of each other.” He noted that “from the first rehearsal, we’ve gelled very nicely.” The quartet rehearsed once a week in the Freeburg lobby, six times overall including a dress rehearsal.
The performances originally were to be in a free concert in First United Methodist Church in Hendersonville May 24. But the pandemic scrapped that. It was rescheduled for July 26. But with live indoor concerts still banned statewide, the streaming alternative and pre-recording ideas emerged.
Hanna and Tavernier performed as a duet in concert in 2017, then on Super Bowl Eve 2018 in what then was Flat Rock Playhouse’s Playhouse Downtown. This year in a quartet, they did a Memorial Day tribute.
Hanna, a 1995 Polk County High grad, now lives in Hendersonville. He is an IT manager at a software firm. He performs with Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra; philharmonics of Brevard, Spartanburg and Foothills (S.C.), Papageno Woodwind Quintet and Foothills Oompah Band. He won the International Clarinet Association Young Artist Competition in 1995. He is an avid fisherman.
Hanna said he is impressed with Tavernier’s maturity, focus and proficiency. His Harmony Creek Studio in Boiling Springs, S.C. co-sponsors the event.