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The Ross McKee Foundation Presents DEVILISH INSPIRATIONS

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The fundraiser takes place on Thursday, October 28, 2021, at 7 p.m.

The Ross McKee Foundation Presents DEVILISH INSPIRATIONS

The Ross McKee Foundation will present Devilish Inspirations: Summoning Witches, Demons, and Black Magic at the Piano, its first-ever fundraiser, on Thursday, October 28, 2021, at 7 p.m. PST. Edwin Outwater, Music Director at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and legendary drag queen/horror icon Peaches Christ will host the online benefit which takes audiences on a chilling tour of the piano repertoire's darkest and most haunting moments.

The streaming event is composed of a series of unique music videos created by celebrated Bay Area pianists, including Allegra Chapman, Brent Smith, Daniel Glover, Dee Spencer, Jeffrey LaDeur with Kindra Scharich (mezzo-soprano), Keisuke Nakagoshi, Ryan Sheng, Sarah Cahill, and Solomon Ge. Proceeds from Devilish Inspirations go directly to the Ross McKee Foundation, an organization that promotes the piano in the Bay Area through grants, scholarships, performance opportunities, and a nationally-recognized piano competition for young artists. Tickets to the premiere are $25 and are available now at DevilishInspirations.com.

Both Mr. Outwater and Ms. Christ-devotees of popular horror culture-will offer viewers history about each of the macabre works and provide some glamour and laughs along the way. Program highlights include:

  • Alexander Scriabin's "Black Mass" Piano Sonata No. 9, where a demonic possession slowly takes hold amidst swirling evil and stinging poisonous dissonances

  • Edward MacDowell's "Hexentanz," a scherzo where witches fly in the sky at supernatural speeds

  • Franz Schubert's "Erlkönig," a frantic, high-speed chase on horseback as a father and his small son seek to escape the devil in hot pursuit on a stormy night

  • Two selections from Maurice Ravel's masterpiece Gaspard de la nuit, including "Scarbo," a virtuosic tone poem evoking a fiendish night spirit that terrorizes a man in his bedroom as he tries to sleep

Devilish Inspirations will follow the format of the foundation's successful online "Piano Break" series. Launched in July 2020, the weekly program featured intimate mini-recitals often recorded in the pianists' homes and provided a way to support pianists who lost performance opportunities due to the COVID-19 shutdown. With Devilish Inspirations, the pianists have been invited to go further and create unique videos that fit the mood of the music they're performing.

"Through the pandemic, the Ross McKee Foundation sought new ways to share the range of talent and artistry in the San Francisco Bay Area with a growing community of music lovers," says Nicholas Pavkovic, Executive Director of Ross McKee Foundation. "Because each Piano Break premieres on YouTube, we've reached a diverse audience of viewers from around the world who were stuck at home and hungry for entertainment and culture during the lockdowns. With the special focus of Devilish Inspirations, we're really excited to see what surprises our lineup of creative artists put together for this event."

Devilish Inspirations was inspired by Ross McKee board members who are, like most of the classical music world today, eager to explore new ways to shake up programming and excite even more people to check out a classical music concert. The inclusion of drag and horror icon Peaches Christ with Edwin Outwater, whose own career mixes traditional classical orchestra repertoire with heavy metal, rock, and, yes, horror elements, seemed like a natural route to go for increasing the Ross McKee audience.

Since its inception in 1989. The Ross McKee Foundation has supported hundreds of Bay Area pianists in various stages of their careers with nearly $2.5 million in grants, over $100,000 in scholarships, and $146,000 in prize money for the Ross McKee Piano Competition for Young Artists.

"This one-of-a-kind event is emblematic of the Ross McKee Foundation's commitment to furthering piano education," says Edwin Outwater. "I'm also excited to host alongside Peaches, the Bay Area's leading horror expert, with an event that pushes the boundaries of contemporary programming while raising money for the next generation of pianists."

"The soundtracks of our favorite horror movies owe everything to the classical music world," says Peaches Christ. "John Williams, Bernard Herrmann, and others borrow liberally from the work of Scriabin, Ravel, Stravinsky, and others. I'm such a geek for horror trivia, and this program has been a fantastic learning experience for me personally. Can't wait to share this with our audience!" The Ross McKee Foundation Presents DEVILISH INSPIRATIONS


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