Of Note: For Globetrotting Pianist Everything "Comes Back to Ireland"

Aug 20, 2018

Pianist Michael McHale closes out the Fort Smith Symphony's 2018-19 season, performing Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." Recently he stopped by KUAF for an in-studio performance. Listen as he takes on a moment from Mussorgsky's "Pictures," a nocturne from John Field and a jazzy interpretation of the Irish classic "Danny Boy."

Credit © 2018 by Michael McHale/Frank Miller

McHale speaks with Of Note's Katy Henriksen about the innovations of Mussorgsky, how he incorporates contemporary music into his work and why "it all comes back to Ireland" when he plays. 

"We would often have family get-togethers where everyone would do a party piece and that was really helpful for me once I started playing the piano because people woud just throw bits of music at me... and expect me to accompany them," he says. "I remember playing with my aunts singing 'Danny Boy' and it was really touching."

He also talks about the inspiration behind his most recent album, Portraits, as one-third of the McGill McHale trio, with brothers clarinetist Anthony McGill and flutist Demarre McGill. He says the unusual instrument combination allowed the three an opportunity to establish a new repertoire. The album gets its title from a Valerie Coleman piece called "Portraits of Langston," featuring spoken word by actor Mahershala Ali.

Listen to the full interview and performance in the streaming link above.