February 17, 2008


TULSA, OKLAHOMA. On February 15 & 16, Jelani Eddington appeared as the guest pianist with the Tulsa Signature Symphony in two performances of Leroy Anderson’s Piano Concerto in C Major. The symphony, under the direction of Dr. Barry Epperly, performed the Oklahoma premieres of this concerto.

Leroy Anderson (1908-1975), most frequently associated with his well-known compositions such as Sleigh Ride, Blue Tango, The Typewriter, and Bugler’s Holiday, decided early in his composing career to tackle more extensive orchestral works. In the early 1950s, Anderson began to sketch out ideas for a piano concerto. After intensely working on the concerto for several years, Anderson conducted the premiere of the concerto at an outdoor concert in Chicago’s Grant Park in July 1953 with Eugene List as the pianist.

In August 1954, Anderson withdrew the work, intending to make revisions to the concerto. However, the composer never completed those revisions prior to his passing in 1975. Following Anderson’s death, Leroy’s wife, Eleanor, sent the concerto to the Cincinnati Pops conductor, Erich Kunzel, who recorded the work in 1993. Since that time, there have been only a handful of recordings of the concerto, including Jelani Eddington’s album, Sleigh Ride.

The concerto is structured in a very traditional format featuring three movements: Allegro Moderato, Andante, and Allegro Vivo. Anderson’s admiration of composers such as Sergei Rachmaninoff, George Gershwin, and Aaron Copland are evident throughout the work.

In addition, many of Anderson’s own touches appear in the concerto, making it an intensely enjoyable and memorable composition.