The Man Behind the Keys

Pianist Emile Pandolfi with special guest and vocalist Dana Russell. Courtesy photo

Pianist Emile Pandolfi with special guest and vocalist Dana Russell. Courtesy photo

Not only are his musical compositions soulful and soothing, pianist Emile Pandolfi’s voice alone can put one at ease. He understands and feels what his audience wants, and in return wants  nothing more than to deliver. “I want the environment to be comfortable and relaxed, like they are all gathering into my grand living room to hear me play,” Pandolfi told me. “I don’t know about you, but my living room is equipped with seating for 500,” Pandolfi joked.

His arrangements are packed with raw emotion that is sure to stir up feelings of passion and excitement and possibly even a little sadness to all who listen. With Pandolfi’s classical technique he plays from The Great American Songbook and Broadway shows.  “I want my listeners to hear something new when they come to watch me play along with being reminded of a familiar classic,” Pandolfi said.

Pandolfi’s childhood was idolized by most and he had the blessing of growing up in the “it” house.  His home was the place for everyone to gather and it was never uncommon to hear music streaming from the walls. “Music was a part of our everyday living,” Pandolfi explained. “I like to say that by the time I was 27 years of age, I was a child prodigy.”

All of the children took music lessons and three of the four made careers out of their passion for music. Music is just what they knew and what they did, Pandolfi expressed. He went on to achieve his musical degree in college, and the sky was the limit for this aspiring pianist.

Talking with Pandolfi is like meeting an old friend for coffee—it is comfortable and relaxing. The musical experience he has created for his audience is gathered around the labors of being content with the feeling of coming home. Pandolfi does provoke other emotions within his listeners that include sadness at times. “Music is such a great vehicle to communicate true sentiments and feelings,” Pandolfi said. “Even when the feelings are sad, it is still an emotion to be respected and at times wonderful to experience.” We spoke of the feeling of seeing a sad love story at the theatres and walking away feeling spent because you have captured all of the characters’ emotions inside yourself. This is yet another way Pandolfi speaks to his listeners through his keys and the love he has for his melodies.

Having played before at Odell Williamson Auditorium a few years back, Pandolfi is filled with excitement to visit an old haunt and tickle the ivories once more for Brunswick County. He will be accompanied by vocalist Dana Russell who has a very similar repertoire. “Dana has a wonderfully varied voice,” Pandolfi explains. “She can sing a wide range from opera all the way to pop.” Russell has been a guest artist in Pandolfi’s show for about five years now.

If you have never attended one of Pandolfi’s shows, be prepared to throw any inhibitions to the wind you may have thought about music. “I want to change the minds of newcomers to my show. They might receive music they thought they did not like but after I play it for them, I hope they will feel that there was so much more that they were never able to hear,” Pandolfi said.

When you attend one of his concerts one should expect an over flow of emotions but at the same time Pandolfi brings humor in between songs to bring the audience back up. He wants to play on his listeners’ emotions like he plays on the piano—to go from sharp to flat and all in between.

Emile Pandolfi will be performing with special guest Dana Russell on January 22nd at the Odell Williamson Auditorium. Tickets are available for purchase at

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