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Great Moments in JBE History: 9 Pianists

on July 9, 2014 - 3:09pm

One day I ran into Ann Arbors own Pulitzer Prize winning composer, William Bolcom. Amid the bustle of the Kerrytown market we stopped to catch up. We started to talk about the idea of doing some sort of concert together. Bill thought that if we did something, the proceeds should benefit some charity. I agreed, and we parted ways, each promising to think about it further. I like to organize things sometimes, so I began to ask some of the other Ann Arbor area pianists if theyd all like to play together in a benefit concert sometime. Everyone I asked said yes, so I asked Deanna Relyea, the director of the Kerrytown Concert House if the house could be used for such a purpose. She not only agreed, but offered the House up gratis. Thats when it hit me - Ive got the perfect charitable need in mind and its right in front of me. During this period I had already come to an agreement with Mark Nobilette to build the piano bike (a story of its own), without knowing its purpose, or how I would pay for it. The building was already underway, and I was beginning to form the idea that the bike itself should be at the center of some charitable undertaking. One of our guests at the event at our home described in installment # 1, Dick Beedon, raised a really interesting point when I initially wasnt prepared to name a single beneficiary for anything that might come of using the piano bike (still unnamed, btw.) He suggested the bike could be used for an unlimited number of groups and charities that might share a common interest. This has become one of the cornerstones of the Joybox Express (JBE), that makes our workings different than most charitable organizations. This strength though, requires some faith and perspective when explaining our potential; its not quite as clear as explaining that we ride for Charity A. or B.Rather we ride for a broader cause, that can include any number of groups that share our concerns. MUCH more on this later...

I went back to Bill Bolcom and the others and explained the developing story of what would become the JBE. Their faith, trust and enthusiasm meant more to me than I can express. They all agreed that we should record our concert and direct the proceeds to the building of the bike, so it could deliver on it’s (evolving) promise to address the value of arts and athletics; especially as these disciplines relate to developing children. John Palmer of Megawave Records recorded and distributed a remarkable CD, “ 9 Pianists, Our Town, Our Time.” This recording helped significantly to build the star of the show, our magnificent, one of a kind piano bike, eventually to be known as “The Joybox Express.”

With deepest gratitude, my thanks to pianists Bill Bolcom, James Dapogny, Al Hill, Waleed Howrani,   Glenn Persello-Seefeld, Rick Roe, Ellen Rowe and Tad Weed. By the way, can anyone name another city the size of Ann Arbor with this many fine and distinguished pianists?

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