Simon Tedeschi: Classic rascal’s jazz rhythms

Classical pianist Simon Tedeschi is performing interpretations of Gershwin at a special concert in Kangaroo Valley this weekend. Photo: John Flick.

Classical pianist Simon Tedeschi is performing interpretations of Gershwin at a special concert in Kangaroo Valley this weekend. Photo: John Flick.

RENOWNED Australian classical pianist Simon Tedeschi is excited to be bringing his love for Gershwin to a regional audience this weekend.

Tedeschi is a special guest performer at Arts In The Valley’s “I Got Rhythm” concert in Kangaroo Valley.

He will be joined by arguably Australia’s best jazz pianist Mike Nock, to contrast classical and jazz interpretations of the music of Gershwin and other composers who influenced his writing.

Mike Nock

Mike Nock

Gershwin himself straddled these two musical genres, in music ranging from Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris to the opera Porgy and Bess. 

Many of his tunes have become jazz standards performed by jazz musicians all over the world.

Performing his own interpretations of jazz standards in the Kangaroo Valley Hall is a far cry from Tedeschi’s current gig – performing to toddlers three times a day for the Mozart Baby Proms at the Sydney Opera House.

However, he can’t wait.

”I’m very excited about the weekend,” Tedeschi said in an interview with BDN editor Ben Smyth.

“I’ve had a strong relationship with Gershwin all these years.

“His family followed a similar route to mine – although he left Europe for Ellis Island and mine ended up in Circular Quay!

“He was so inspired by jazz, but with a strong classical background.”

Tedeschi has released recordings of his Gershwin interpretations to great acclaim and is looking forward to performing them to an appreciative live audience on Saturday.

“I’d submit I have played Rhapsody in Blue more than any other musician,” he said.

“It’s very special.”

Tedeschi is the first to admit he is not a “cookie cutter” classical pianist and said his live performances are fun and engaging.

“The Mozart Baby Proms are amazing shows – part musical, part theatrical.

“I get paid for being a rascal – it’s scripted, but there’s a lot of latitude for me to play around.

“I’m a classical musician, but I love to engage with the audience.”

Tedeschi said the weekend’s concert in Kangaroo Valley will include the best of Gershwin as well as some lesser-known original pieces and “a lot of improvisation”.

“Even I won’t fully know what to expect.”

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MIKE Nock’s career has spanned a broad range of contemporary musical styles and he is widely recognised as an important voice in Australian modern music. 

Based in Sydney since 1986, he previously spent 25 years in the US, working with many of the world’s top artists. 

His compositions include orchestral music, woodwind/percussion ensembles, electronic/choral works and more, and have been recorded and performed by a range of jazz and non-jazz performers.

Attracting many awards and honours over his lengthy career, in  2014 Nock  was  awarded  the  Don Banks Music Award, the most valuable individual music award in Australia. 

In 2009  he  was  inducted into the  Bell  Awards  Australian Jazz Hall of Fame and  in 2003  presented with  the New Zealand Order of Merit.

As music director of Naxos/Jazz for six years, he oversaw the production of more than 60 internationally released CDs.


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