Pianist Alpin Hong will take the stage for the Gilmore Family Concerts and mash up classical piano pieces with pop culture in free, live performances in Allegan and Plainwell this month. (Photo provided)

Gilmore brings lively concerts to Allegan, Plainwell

Ryan Lewis, Editor

A pair of upcoming concerts in Allegan and Plainwell are designed to show audiences of especially children that live, classical performances are not always for those drinking wine and wearing formal wear.

Pianist Alpin Hong will take the stage for the Gilmore Family Concerts and bring his extensive classical piano training and a background in extreme sports, martial arts and video games to the lively performances.

Adam Schumaker, the director of education Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, said the Family Concerts were designed for audiences for all ages.

“Alpin Hong plays in a way that can work really well for younger kids as well as older children,” Schumaker said. “We aim to reach as many people as possible. If parents need to bring smaller children, that’s totally fine, too.”

The concert in Allegan will be Wednesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. at the Allegan Public Schools Performing Arts Center.

In Plainwell, students will enjoy a private concert the afternoon of Monday, April 16, and then the public show will be that night at 7:30 p.m. in the Plainwell Performing Arts Center.

“These one-hour concerts make a nice mixed-entry point,” Schumaker said. “He’ll interweave popular classical pieces with video game or movie references.

“Alpin is very flexible, so I don’t think any of them will be exactly the same—depending on the audience and what he’s feeling, he might change things up a little bit.”

Hong performed last in the county for the previous incarnation of the concerts, the Gilmore for Kids program, in 2008.

“He’s so energetic,” Schumaker said. “The reason we chose him is his personality; whatever he works up, it’s going to be great. That’s the kind of entertainer he is.”

Schumaker said both concerts will show, during some songs, a view from a GoPro camera looking down from above to the keyboard to highlight Hong’s playing.

“It will be projected onto a screen above the stage while he’s playing,” he said. “So audiences will be able to see the keyboard as he’s playing. It’s really neat to see. It helps people appreciate the level of artistry he brings.”

He said it was important to perform concerts in outlying communities because it’s part of the Gilmore’s mission to provide educational opportunities for all ages.

“It’s a way of potentially reaching new audiences,” Schumaker said. “They’re all free, and they’re nearby at a variety of times and days and settings, so there are as few barriers as possible to stop people from coming.

“We want people to be comfortable and welcome if they’ve never experienced the sound of a live grand piano. The Gilmore embodies that; we’re growing musical culture.

We want to promote hearing live music live as a regular part of our lives.”

Find the full schedule of family concerts at www.thegilmore.org.

Schumaker said the performance Kalamazoo April 22 will have Hong playing with the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra, an event that will be livestreamed online. For those with an appetite for more, the Gilmore Keyboard Festival starts in earnest April 25.

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.





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