‘The Classical Legacy of a Rock Star’

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Through the years, Emerson has consistently won the Overall Best Keyboardist award in the annual Keyboard Magazine Readers’ Poll. He was recently honored at The Smithsonian Institution, along with Dr. Robert Moog, for his pioneering work in electronic music. Emerson was inducted into the Hammond Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Piano Concerto No. 1

In 1977, Emerson, Lake & Palmer played Emerson’s Piano Concerto No. 1 at Madison Square Garden and in Montreal. EL&P recorded it on their album “Works” with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

This Oct. 10 and 11, the piece will be played by world-renowned pianist and Lynbrook resident Jeffrey Biegel and the South Shore Symphony as part of Emerson’s 70th birthday celebration in Madison Theatre at Molloy College in Rockville Centre.

“One of my music teachers told me that when I play other’s music to stay true to whoever wrote the music — and that’s what Jeffrey does,” Emerson said. “I was quite surprised he wanted to do this — it was a great honor. He plays it wonderfully … it made me very emotional to hear it.”

Biegel, a multi-faceted pianist, recording artist, chamber music collaborator, composer and arranger in his own right, played the piece with Orchestra Kentucky with Emerson in attendance last September (Emerson performed “Honky Tonk Train Blues.”) Emerson made his conducting debut with Orchestra Kentucky, and they presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts and Humanities.

“For many years, this piece was only performed by Keith,” said Biegel. “Emerson, Lake & Palmer were famous for taking standard orchestral music … and making rock versions of them. This concerto is a jazzy version, so you’re going to hear, as the orchestra plays it … it sounds almost electronic in a way, [it was] a signal of the digital age.”

Happy birthday, Mr. Emerson

For Emerson’s 70th birthday, he said, “we wanted to make a bit of a splash this year.”

“I feel humbled in the presence of these musicians,” he said of Biegel and the South Shore Symphony. “Jeffrey will play it note for note, but in his own style. I’ve asked him to get up and do some jazz improvisation with me,” he laughed, “but we’ll see.”
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