Jazz pianists collaborate for an album

STAFF REPORTER

Acclaimed jazz pianist André Petersen, who grew up in Valhalla Park and attended Belgravia High School, joined forces with another renowned pianist, Kathleen Tagg, to launch their CD, called Where Worlds Collide, last week.

The album draws from the rich sonic tapestries of classical music, South African jazz and traditional music from sub­Saharan Africa, to explore the diverse realms of music that can be created with a piano.

Mr Petersen who is currently lecturing at the University of Witwatersrand (WITS), studied at the SA College of Music in Cape Town and he has a Master’s Degree in Jazz Piano Studies, from Lemmens Institute in Belgium, where he graduated Cum Laude. He has performed locally and internationally with a host of acclaimed artists and at festivals across the world.

Mr Petersen is the recipient of numerous classical music and jazz music awards, including first prize in the Old Mutual Jazz Encounters Competition, first prize in the SAMRO Overseas Piano Scholarship Competition, the Oppenheimer Overseas Scholarship, a Martial Solal International Jazz Piano Competition prize and a recipient of the Vuya Foundation Scholarship Award.

Participating at the prestigious Parisian 2011 Concours de Piano-jazz Martial Solal Competition as the only African pianist to be selected from 68 international pianists, Mr Petersen received a special mention.

Mr Petersen and Ms Tagg are longstanding friends and colleagues, having met at the South African College of Music 20 years ago. The collaboration arose when Mr Petersen had the idea to create a sonic world where diverse musical experiences could co-exist comfortably in an organic way. He approached Ms Tagg, who having been based in New York City for 15 years, had been influenced by the contemporary music scene, inspiring her to think of the piano in a totally different way. She had independently been writing new work to find a channel to combine the range of different aspects of her musical life.

“It was divine intervention and arrangement,” Mr Petersen said of the collaboration.

“The original compositions from both Kathy and I were complimentary in the overall structure and concept of the duo, and we had the same vision, wanting to create a new South African sound, painting with sonic colours rather than genres. We wanted to bring all these elements together to create an entertaining and accessible music, while remaining true to the technique, intelligence and artistry of the original genres.”

Ms Tagg added: “For this project, André and I were able to look into our combined treasure troves of experiences and put them all together. This CD is the musical intersection point of who we both are – personally and professionally. In addition, we wanted to create something that both classical and jazz audiences will enjoy, and we feel we have truly imagined a new musical world.

“We have both worked with a huge array of people in many different genres, and we bring all of these influences to this project – a project which could not come from anywhere else, but South Africa, but also couldn’t exist without all the things to which we have been exposed.”

A 2014 SAMA­nominee for best classical/instrumental album, Ms Tagg has performed on four continents with some of the world’s leading musicians.

To view a clip of them performing or to get the CD, visit www. taggpetersenduo.com