Delivers an entertaining evening
STORY BY: JENNIFER BARNETT
Are you a fan of Rachmaninoff, Debussy and Chopin? Maybe you’re a musical theater buff that knows all the lyrics from “ANNIE” to “CATS”. Just like a Reece’s peanut butter cup – two great tastes that taste great together. There is good news for all.
Thursday, December 8th The O’Dell Williamson Auditorium will be presenting Christmas with Emile Pandolfi. He is a skilled pianist that layers and seamlessly blends classical favorites with the meaningful melodies from well-loved Broadway musicals.
Emile ‘s parents were first-generation Italian-Americans. Take a moment to imagine a home filled with family and friends all, which were very passionate communicators. The Pandolfi home was known as “the place to gather”. Music filled the air in their home and was always associated with fun.
This positive energy and up-lifting attitude has stayed with Emile to this day and echoes true in his performances. He delivers brilliant musical medleys but also entertains. He is charming with a light-hearted sense of humor and outgoing personality. Emile grew up in Greenville, South Carolina but moved around enough to pepper his talent with many interesting elements and a range of international cultural influences. One of his acquired skills is being able to play music by ear!
“It took two years of arduous, disciplined practice to train my ear to do something that some amateur musicians do automatically. Yet, as odd as it may seem, many classical musicians, vastly well-trained and enjoying a superb technique, cannot play a simple song without consulting the sheet music. I was one of those. I intuitively knew that there was something very wrong with this picture, and decided to do something about it.”
“The very first tune I embarked on was ‘Blue Moon’. I already knew the melody, but had never played it without reading the music. I just hunt-and-punched my way around for a week or so till I made some sense of it. I began to understand how playing-from-listening actually worked. After that remarkable achievement, I followed by learning one song after another – although I still took books to the piano lounge where I was playing, just in case – and began to wean myself of the written page. I was encouraged to learn to read, “fake books” and start to improvise over the chord symbols. Anyway, now, years later, I play everything except classical pieces by ear. It just gives you more freedom.”
Emile has been a student at Furman University, where he studied music, and then Baylor University where he studied for two more years. He earned his Bachelor of Music Degree from Texas Tech. He was a chorus teacher in St. Thomas and a member of a Calypso band called “The Castaways”. He moved to Sussex, England where he played pubs and restaurants. He also was a member of a house band in Denver, Buddy Brown and the Bittersuite all before heading to LA to play for dance classes, acting seminars, actor/singer auditions, and in various piano lounges. It was here that he became one of the house pianists for the Comedy Store. He worked there for six years.
He performed with well-known entertainers such as Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Robin Williams, among others. He was a featured performer at the 1984 Summer Olympics, playing “Rhapsody in Blue.” It was also here that he studied the writing of comedy (an ability he was to use many years later to write his own show) and learned to play for comedy improv troupes.
With the freedom of playing by ear and the experience he gathered over the years, Emile delivers a performance of classical caliber mixed with well-loved melodies and a touch of humor. If you and your family are looking for an evening of entertainment and musical talent, this is one performance you don’t want to miss. It’s a great way to get in the holiday spirit and celebrate this special time of year.
For tickets and information, please call 910.755.7416 or visit Odell Williamson Auditorium. Adult tickets are $29.00, seniors and student tickets are $27.00, children 12 and under are $10.00. Tickets are on sale until December 8, 2016 7:00 PM.