Pianist Spencer Myer loves performing in Boise. He stays Downtown, eats breakfast each morning at Goldy’s (“It’s too good not to,” he says), relishes the ease of getting around and appreciates the classical music scene.
“I love the vibe in Boise,” he says. “It’s very chill, and there’s huge support for the orchestra. That is great to see. There are a lot of places larger than Boise where you don’t feel that.”
Myer spoke last week from Grass Valley, Calif., where he played a House Concert for InConcert Sierra. He will play Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto with the Boise Philharmonic and music director Robert Franz, who announced his resignation earlier this week.
The program begins with American composer Jessie Montgomery’s “Strum,” which will be played by the Boise Phil’s string quartet. (Montgomery will be in Boise to hear the performance and will also speak at “Backstage with the Artists” at noon Friday, Jan. 22, at the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy in Downtown Boise. Free.)
The full orchestra will finish the evening with Beethoven’s brilliant Second Symphony.
This marks Myer’s third Boise performance. In 2014, he played a recital for the Stars of Steinway series. In 2013, he played two Ravel works with the Phil. Myer is now excited to come back for Beethoven’s Fourth, one of his favorite pieces.
He studied the piece at Ohio’s Oberlin Conservatory of Music for his undergraduate degree, at New York’s Julliard University, where he received his master’s, and at New York’s Stony Brook University, where he received his doctorate. It’s what he turned to for the finals of the Unisa International Piano Competition in South Africa — he won in 2004 — and at the Cleveland International Piano Competition in 2005. He placed fourth there.
“Playing it with my hometown orchestra was magical,” the Cleveland native said. “It’s a piece I associate with the greatest highlights of my life.”
Myer grew up with music as a big part of his life. He took piano lessons and attended the Cleveland Orchestra regularly with his dad, but he never thought of it as a career until his parents sat him down for a kind of intervention.
“I was thinking of being a lawyer or doctor or something, then my parents said, ‘Music is all you talk about. You live and breathe it. You should make music your career,’ ” he says. “I didn’t realize it could be a job. It was like a switch flipped, and I never looked back.”
He focused on music through high school, working often with the school’s choir, where he developed a love for voice and choral music. Now, when he’s not performing around the world, he’s coaching operatic singers in New York City, where he lives.
The Fourth is Beethoven’s most intimate of his five piano concertos, Myer says.
“The piano part is soaring and singing, but also introverted,” Myers says. “It’s not as muscular as ‘The Emperor.’ It feels personal, and the orchestra’s part is equally as lush as the piano’s. There’s a lot of interplay between the two as the piano and the orchestra have a kind of ‘conversation.’ It’s a dream come true every time I get to play it.”
Robert Franz says goodbye
Boise Philharmonic Music Director Robert Franz announced his departure from the orchestra earlier this week. He and the musicians will finish out the season “with an elevated sense of purpose,” Franz says. You won’t want to miss it. Read the full story about Franz’s departure at IdahoStatesman.com.
Concerts are at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, unless otherwise noted.
▪ Feb. 26-27: Lan-Kui Han’s Qilian Rhapsody for Pipa and Orchestra with pipa master Changlu Wu, and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2.
▪ March 11-12: Mozart’s Overture to “Don Giovanni,” Tchaikovsky’s ode to Mozart Suite No. 4 “Mozartiana” and Mozart’s Requiem with the Master Chorale.
▪ April 16-17 (Saturday and Sunday): Brahms’ Violin Concerto with two-time Grammy nominated Jennifer Frautschi, Smetana’s “Moldeau” and Borodin’s Symphony No. 2. (April 17 is at 3 p.m. in Nampa.)
Go to the Philharmonic
8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, Brandt Center, Northwest Nazarene University, 707 Fern St., Nampa, and 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise. $22-$43.50 in Nampa, $23.75-$71.50 in Boise. 344-7849, BoisePhil.org.