These days music-lovers have to have a thick skin. Whether it’s news of musician lock-outs or the greying of the audience, pessimism is rampant. People have been predicting the demise of classical music for more than a generation. Kirill Gerstein, who played the Prokofiev Second with the CSO last week, lamented that if we want to blame the computer, the TV or the video console for distracting people away from music, we’re too late. He points out that it was the radio that replaced the piano in the living room.
What to do? How about bringing music back to the home? That’s the philosophy of Thomas Zoells, Executive Director of PianoForte Chicago—full disclosure, he does sell pianos—but he also donates them, offers scholarships for piano lessons, hosts an amateur piano competition, and a number of free concerts.
Practicing and performing music, attending concerts, listening to music (in defense of the radio)—each of these things touches our brains in slightly different ways. They foster community and togetherness, while building skills, and sharpening the mind; they make people feel good. Community and togetherness are not things generally associated with use of computers and video games.
The good news is, Thomas Zoells is in expansion mode. His company, with its new facility, barely a week old, is bustling.
At 10:00 PM tonight, WFMT brings you our first broadcast recorded in the new space with violist Michael Hall, and pianist Yu-Sui Hung playing works by Paul Hindemith and Rebecca Clarke.
Lisa Flynn spoke with Thomas Zoells about the space, PianoForte Studios: