Editor's note: This event may be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Check with organizers.
The performance is a feat in itself: 10 grand pianos on one stage, showcasing individual performers and masterfully-arranged pieces in styles that range from classical and jazz to New Age and contemporary pop.
To date, it remains the only such show of its kind in terms of not just piano count, but also longevity. What began as a seed of an idea on a napkin 20 years ago between pianist, composer and co-producer Michael Allen Harrison and co-producer/stage director Greg Tamblyn is now an iconic Portland tradition.
And this year promises to be its best yet with some of the Pacific Northwest's biggest piano icons and freshest talent coming together in one place, including Michael Allen Harrison, Tom Grant, William Chapman Nyaho, Mac Potts, Hailey Potts — with special guests Thomas Lauderdale and Hunter Noack.
On April 11 Ten Grands celebrates its 20th year with a special anniversary show at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Featuring musicians who have played across the globe, together with those coming onto the scene and pushing the bounds of creativity, it's a lot of talent in one place. It's also the kind of talent that may inspire a future pianist.
Proceeds from the show each year have helped deliver music education to underserved kids and teens in local schools. Since 2000, the Ten Grands concerts have raised $3.5 million in funding and impacted more than 100,000 students.
"This show comes from the heart. As musicians, we all needed an opportunity to become who we are today. This is our chance as a music community to create an opportunity for the next generation," Harrison said.
In response to the loss of arts funding in schools, Ten Grands supports music education and music opportunity for elementary through high school students.
Through the Snowman Foundation and its growing new program Play It Forward, students are matched with music teachers who provide free weekly lessons, then given gently used pianos and other instruments to play at home, gifted to them by the community.
"There's nothing quite as powerful as music. It can alter our mood. It can change a life; it can even unite and transform an entire generation," Harrison said. "The Ten Grands show ties those elements together in a way like no other."
The 20th anniversary show will bring back many popular Ten Grands performers, along with new artists.
As in past years, a special Ten Grands for Kids performance will offer two free shows to area schools, homeschoolers and community groups at 9:45 and 11:45 a.m. April 10.
This concert will showcase 10 pianists on 10 grand pianos, with both gifted youth musicians and professionals playing together.
Each year, nearly 6,000 children from across Portland and southwest Washington attend the event, providing access to high-value music performances and an opportunity to experience one of Portland's premier music venues.
Additionally, Ten Grands hosted its first-ever music competition for students. Finalists selected from video entries compete in performances March 8 at The Old Church Concert Hall in Portland.
The first prize winner received a $5,000 scholarship and an opportunity to perform solo at the 20th Anniversary Ten Grands concert.
Tickets ($28-$95) are available now for the 20th Anniversary Ten Grands Concert at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 11, at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 S.W. Broadway in Portland.
Call the box office, 800-273-1530, or visit www.tengrands.com.
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