The Herb Geller Memorial Scholarship Concerts series will feature Jo Ann Geller and Bruce Smith in a varied program of piano music for four hands entitled “Dueling Pianists: Look Ma, Four Hands” at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 7 at Grace Episcopal Church in Utica.
Among the featured composers are Merkur, Mozart, Dello Joio, Yamamoto, Lennon and McCartney, and Dvorak.
The duo has been playing together and concertizing for more than a quarter century. “Because these arrangements occasionally have us crossing hands, tangling fingers and bumping elbows, it can seem as competitive as collaborative,” Smith said.
Geller’s background includes education at the University of Pennsylvania, Curtis Institute, and private instruction in Germany. She has been a private piano teacher for decades and accompanies the St. Joseph’s Choir and numerous local musicians.
Smith similarly has a lengthy tenure as organist and choir director for First Baptist and St. Mary’s in Rome. For 17 years he has served as choir director and organist for Grace Episcopal Church in Utica.
The free chamber music series will continue at other local churches:
The Onyx Clarinet Quartet will perform at St. John the Baptist in Rome on Sunday, Sept. 22, at 3 p.m.
The Highland Winds Clarinet Quartet at Zion Episcopal in Rome on Sunday, Oct. 20, at 3 p.m.
The series will conclude with a grand concert band tribute to Herb Geller at Rome Free Academy on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 7:30 p.m. It will include many RFA alumni and Herb Geller’s former students, as well as professional musicians from throughout central New York. Geller was the band director at RFA from 1976-96.
All concerts in the series are free, though donations to the scholarship fund for outstanding RFA instrumental students are gratefully accepted. For more information or to contribute contact HGellerMSC@gmail.com or 315-335-0090.