– Classic piano prodigy Christopher Tavernier of Hendersonville is performing a free concert Saturday, Aug. 14 by playing in a duet and then in a jazz quartet as he expands his horizons into Latin music.
A Parisian Tango on Broadway is the title of this versatile-styled concert in Blue Ridge Community College’s Bo Thomas Auditorium in East Flat Rock. It starts at 2 p.m. Doors open at 1 p.m. Seating is first-come, first-serve. Admission is free. Thus there is no advance ticketing.
Patrons are encouraged to donate money. Donations are to be split among the musicians. Musicians lost much revenue during the pandemic when live gigs were not allowed due to regulations, concert organizer Bob Tavernier noted.
His son Christopher Tavernier, 21, is about to begin his junior year studying music at Florida State. His four-month summer break ends three days after the concert when he returns to FSU.
Playing Live Again
The left-handed 2019 Hendersonville High School grad performed in many benefit concerts while at HHS. He last played a local, public concert before a crowd two years ago.
“It feels great to be getting back to the normal swing of things after so long,” he told the Tribune. “I’m hoping that every seat is filled.”
This is hailed as the first major live musical performance at BRCC since the pandemic hit.
“I feel like there are plenty of people itching to hear live music again,” Tavernier said.
This is a chance to see a burgeoning world-class talent from the area. Tavernier won youth concerto competitions of three area symphonies, studied two summers at Brevard Music Center and earned more trophies and “A” grades during college. He won a $10,000 Big Arts Sanibel (Island) Scholarship in a statewide competition of music majors in April. In January he won the Gulf Coast Steinway Society (GCSS) Concerto Competition and the GCSS Lower College Division Piano competition.
Latin, Bernstein, Gershwin
Tavernier and clarinet player Matthew Hanna open by playing three modern South American tunes — Arturo Marquez’s “Zarabandco,” Paquito D’Rivera’s “The Cape Cod Files” and Astor Piazzolla’s “Libertango.” This is Tavernier’s first time performing Latin music in concert. “I like how rhythmically driven it is and how sophisticated and interesting it is on a subsurface level.”
The duo next plays jazzy music by two famed Americans. They do Leonard Bernstein’s “Jet Song” and “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story and then Bernstein’s “Clarinet Sonata.”
They close with George Gershwin’s famed “Rhapsody in Blue.” Tavernier calls it “exciting” to get to play this lifelong “bucket list piece.” He likes jazz as simply “fun.”
He will play on Freeburgh’s 9-foot, 4-inch long Mason and Hamlin CC. That is the world’s third-longest handmade piano model.
Hanna’s playing is “fluid,” Tavernier said. They go by “88 Keys (on a piano) and a Reed.” The duo played in several benefits. Their sole concert in the pandemic-plagued summer of 2020 was streamed live online. Their playlist is new for Saturday. They rehearsed last Saturday in Freeburg Music’s performance room.
The Mountain Chamber Quartet plays a 50-minute piece in the second and final program. This all-star lineup has Rita Hayes of Asheville on flute, drummer Byron Hedgepeth, Keith Freeburg on double bass and Tavernier on piano. Bob Tavernier said the quartet clicks with “icy technical precision and fiery jazz swing.” Their program La France en Amerique honors Tavernier’s French-American heritage.
Their sole piece is the eight-movement “Suite No. 2 for Flute & Jazz Trio” that jazz pianist Claude Bolling wrote in 1973. It blends classical flute with jazz piano. The first movement pulsates with a vibrant pace and busy sound. More serene, flowing movements follow. Each is uniquely “charming,” Christopher Tavernier said.
The Music Foundation of WNC and hosted by Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra is presenting The Masterworks Performance series. It is sponsored by Freeburg Pianos of Hendersonville which Keith and Joanne Freeburg own. Joanne is the MC and founded the Music Foundation.
Joanne Freeburg touted the overall jazz-based concert’s “innovative and creative” vibe and broad appeal. She said Tavernier as a teen “established himself as a concert pianist with a flair for playing the most demanding” numbers.
HSO trumpet player Jackie Siverly turned music pages for longtime friend Tavernier at rehearsal Saturday. She calls his musical development “astonishing.”
Tavernier said that in two years of college, he improved most in comprehending music, “harmonically. It helps with memorization, and gives me a tighter understanding.” He said his emotional grasp of music will “dictate” any spontaneous flourishes — such as brisk, upward hand follow-throughs.
Gains from Gainsford
His new mentor is Dr. Read Gainsford. The native New Zealander heads the FSU music department. He gives Tavernier private lessons weekly for an hour a half. Gainsford is “developing my artistry,” Tavernier said. “We are very compatible. He is very forward. He challenges me to improve myself as a musician and artist — in addition to my own self-driven motivation.”
Tavernier said he is becoming more outgoing from college. He calls the FSU music community “lively. There always seems to be concerts going on — which is incredible.”