Tuesday December 17, 2019,
11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.,
The Arizona Senior Academy Building
The Arizona Senior Academy’s final concert for 2019 gets us into the spirit of the winter holidays with recital by pianist Russell Ronnebaum, who will play his unique arrangements of Christmas carols and original music from his album, Winter Scenes.
Winter Scenes evolved over a number of years, beginning with Ronnebaum’s work on an arrangement of O Holy Night, developed over the course of a year. The impetus for the arrangement was his desire to create a dramatic setting that captured the power of the tune. Over the next few years, he worked on additional arrangements, enjoying the idea of deriving material from classical masters such as Liszt, Chopin, Beethoven and Schubert as well as others.
Russell says that he’s always had a vividly cinematic approach to writing, as though writing music to a film that exists only in his mind. And this is in fact what comes to mind when one listens to Winter Scenes. Familiar melodies take flights of fancy that turn into adventures far beyond the realm of the familiar. As work on the album evolved, Ronnebaum found himself creating original themes as well, which led him to expand these themes into their own original pieces, rounding out the narrative storytelling of the season of Winter.
As the newly appointed music director and composer-in-residence of The Rogue Theatre in Tucson for the 2019-2020 season, Ronnebaum’s scene-painting approach to composition is well-suited. He is also the staff accompanist for the Tucson Masterworks Chorale, and the assistant director of music at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Oro Valley.
A Kansas native, Russell earned his undergraduate degree in piano performance from the University of Kansas and his master’s degree in collaborative piano at the University of Arizona, where he studied under Paula Fan.
Written by Leslie Nitzberg, Academy Village volunteer