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Piano music from a bygone era

By Staff | Oct 4, 2013

Jacqueline Schwab may be your favorite pianist, even though her name is not recognized, because her “gorgeously spare” piano arrangements form the backbone of the musical scores that accompany most of filmaker, Ken Burn’s PBS documentaries, including “The Civil War,” ” The National Parks,” ” Baseball,” ” Mark Twain” and many others. His work, aired frequently on Public Television, has brought her music into living rooms all over America.

This concert, presented on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 3 p.m. at the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church by Shepherdstown Music and Dance, will take the audience time traveling with music from as early as the 1600’s with English dance melodies from the early collections of John Playford, spend a lot of time on the music of the Civil War and Ragtime eras and then delve into more modern compositions for the piano.Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, $12 for SMaD members and $8 for students.

Jacqueline Schwab has played piano for as long as she can remember and loves setting musical moods in concert performances, as well as inspiring people to dance. She creates meditative and spirited arrangements on traditional and vintage tunes from America, England, Scotland and beyond-spinning out stories, in her variations on the themes.

In Ken Burns’ words, “Jacqueline Schwab brings more feeling and intensity to music than anyone I know. Her playing is insistent, physical, heartfelt and … unusually moving.” Playing with “the jazz/classical improvisational spirit of Keith Jarrett and the touch of George Winston ….” (New England Folk Almanac), pianist Jacqueline Schwab has performed on over a dozen of Burns’ documentaries, including his Grammy award-winning Civil War, his Emmy award-winning Baseball, Lewis and Clark, Mark Twain, The War, The National Parks, and Dust Bowl. She has performed on The Irish in America and Ric Burns’ New York: A Documentary Film and other PBS documentaries. She has performed at the White House for President Clinton, celebrating Burns’ Lewis and Clark series, and also, with Scottish singer Jean Redpath, on public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion and CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman. Schwab’s playing was recently featured on public radio host John Birge’s Giving Thanks.

Schwab has performed her solo arrangements at concerts and festivals throughout the US, including at the Savannah Music Festival and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, in Cincinnati. She draws on a wide repertoire-Stephen Foster and Civil War song tunes from North and South, Victorian ballroom dance tunes, Scots and Irish songs and dance tunes brought over by settlers, hymns and spirituals, ragtime-plus Latin waltzes and tango, Billie Holiday blues, and contemporary-style Celtic and English traditional music. Jacqueline’s arrangements of American “heart songs” honor the historical spirit of this community and improvisational spirit of music making but also link to the present day. She enjoys speaking with audiences about the music.

She has recorded with Scottish fiddlers Alasdair Fraser and Laura Risk, singer Jean Redpath, the English dance music quartet Bare Necessities, and many others. She has four solo recordings: Mad Robin, Down Came an Angel and Mark Twain’s America, and her recently released True Blue Waltz. Recent collaborative recordings include In Klezmer, with clarinetist Clayton March, and three CDs of Civil War-era music.

A dance musician for many years, Jacqueline plays for many different styles of dancing and also leads English country dancing. As pianist for the English dance music quartet Bare Necessities, Jacqueline has played for English country dance events around the United States and also in the United Kingdom and Canada. They have recorded 18 CDs of English dance music. Jacqueline has called for English dances around the US, including at many dance festivals and camps, and she has also led workshops for English dance leaders. Her dance leading emphasizes the movement style, connection to the music and the dancers, and the joy of dancing.

So come out and join in on a late fall afternoon for a concert of some glorious music. The concert will be held in Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, on the corner of King and Washington streets in on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 3 p.m.

For more information see the web page at smad.us or call Joanie Blanton at (304) 263-2531 or email at upperpotomac@gmail.com for more details. Advance tickets will be available at O’Hurley’s General Store.