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Pianist David Greilsammer Plays Cage & Scarlatti Back to Back on December 1

November 10, 2015

With the audience on the stage and the pianist on a swivel chair, pianist David Greilsammer’s upcoming performance at Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 6PM and 9PM certainly promises to keep listeners on the edge of their seats. This next event in Princeton University Concerts’ new “PUC125: Performances Up Close” series presents a remarkable program of the sonatas of 18th-century composer Domenico Scarlatti and 20th-century composer John Cage performed back-to-back. In this “Journey Between Two Worlds,” the pianist will rotate between two instruments on the stage: a “prepared piano” for the music of Cage, and a traditional piano for the music of Scarlatti. A brief Q&A with Greilsammer will follow this one-hour long concert. Tickets are limited.

At first glance, one might certainly call such a program unusual as it merges music of two distinctly disparate eras spanning two centuries. Scarlatti’s music demands extraordinary, versatile virtuosity from the pianist, while Cage’s music demands this virtuosity from the piano itself. His sonatas call for eclectic materials—rubber, plastic, bolts, screws—to be wedged between and secured onto the strings of the instrument. As described in the earliest cutting-edge Dial recording of these works, “the resultant sound may resemble a banjo, a harp, a gong, a tambourine, or possibly a conga drum. Whatever else, it is unique.” Yet what makes the pairing of the two composers all the more remarkable is that in listening to this juxtaposition, this union of the traditional and the avant-garde makes absolute sense. Marna Seltzer, Director of Princeton University Concerts, explains: “We chose this artist for the program, an unusual and fascinating pairing. At some point you actually forget which composer you are listening to…the two blend in such an amazing way.”

At a past PUC125: Performances Up Close concert, one audience member expressed that, for her, sitting so close to the performer allowed her to feel much closer to the music. Greilsammer takes this even further. By “seating” each composer side to side, he transcends the stereotypical characteristics of genre, epoch, style and causes all such distinctions to vanish, bringing us closer to the pure timelessness of music. The effect is one in which, as the pianist himself puts it, the Sonata sounds not “as a rigid and extensive form, but rather as a miraculous space designed for conception and experimentation…short, provocative, passionate, full of wild colors, and bursting with sensual rhythms…Searching in their feverish imagination, Scarlatti and Cage conceived these pieces to be the messengers of a yet unknown world. Embracing the future and its freedoms, the Sonatas seem to be staring at us from their far, distant planet.” Presented in a format that also looks forward toward a new era of re-conceptualizing the concert-going experience, in the miraculous space of the Richardson stage illuminated by another new piece of artwork by Marsha Levin-Rojer, this concert is definitely not one to miss.


DAVID GREILSAMMER, piano/prepared piano
WHEN: Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 6PM & 9PM
WHAT:  “Journey Between Two Worlds” – Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti and John Cage played back-to-back. This event is part of the new PUC125: Performances Up Close series, in which the audience sits on stage in-the-round with the performer

WHERE: Princeton University Concerts, Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall
TICKETS: $25 General; $10 Students. Tickets are available online at, by phone at 609-258-9220, or in person two hours prior to the concert at the Richardson Auditorium Box Office
PHOTOS: Please contact Dasha Koltunyuk at or 609-258-6024
For further information please contact Dasha Koltunyuk at or 609-258-6024

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Dasha (Darya) Koltunyuk
Phone:  609-258-6024