Book Review: New Music from Glenda Austin

I first became acquainted with the music of Glenda Austin through our local association’s annual Multi-Piano concerts.  We’ve featured several of her compositions and arrangements over the years, including one of my all-time favorite duet pieces, Valse Elegante. Her duets are always a hit with my students – most of them sound much harder than they really are!

I was delighted to learn about a couple of her newly released solo collections, including a book of…. Waltzes!  Lyric Waltzes includes 7 original solos written at an early intermediate level.  They would serve as a wonderful introduction to waltz style for students who enjoy sophisticated, lyrical music but aren’t yet ready to tackle the waltzes of Classical composers such as Chopin and Schubert (my pre-teen and teenage girl students loved the sound of these pieces!)

Although each of these pieces is written in waltz style, they are far from similar.  Playing the collection from start to finish, I felt like I was reading through a set of character pieces.  The graceful melody of Valse Parisienne brings to mind an evening stroll through its namesake city.  In contrast, the minor setting of Wistful Waltz suggests a darker and more exotic setting.  Autumn Waltz features a beautiful, whirling melody written “A La Chopin”.  There’s not a disappointment in the bunch!

Two of the pieces, Springtime Waltz and Wistful Waltz are also available in sheet music, arranged for 1 piano, 4 hands duet.   We’re going to be performing both pieces on our 2012 Multi-Piano Concerts.  My students are already excited about them!

Solos for the Sanctuary: Spirituals is a wonderful addition to the repertoire of what is all too often an under-represented genre of music.   Arranged with the church pianist in mind, the 7 solos in this book would also be excellent for students in need of American repertoire (or any student who enjoys jazz, for that matter!).

This book was a real joy to play through!  Each spiritual is given its own twist – from an up-tempo big band setting of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, to a haunting, bluesy rendition of Wayfaring Stranger. My favorite piece was a Latin-inspired arrangement of Joshua (Fit the Battle of Jericho), complete with dramatic tango rhythm.   The book is labeled as a Mid- to Late-Intermediate collection, although the arrangements have a wonderfully full sound and would certainly appeal to more advanced players as well.

Both of these books are published by the Willis Music Company, and distributed through Hal Leonard.  Click here to visit their website and check them out!

And… if you’re lucky enough to live in or near Boulder, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Spartanburg, Chicago, Benbrook, Frisco, or Jefferson City, you may have a chance to meet Glenda and hear her play some of this wonderful music in person this summer.  Click here to see a list of her upcoming workshops.  (I’m personally a bit sad that Kansas City isn’t on her list!!).




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