Pianist Wayne McEvilly has studied Mozart’s 17 piano sonatas since 1945. He plays each one every week, year in and year out. So if he takes a few liberties with the material, he’s well within the bounds of expertise to do so. His skill level helps, as well.
“The last time I did improvisation in public was in Carnegie Hall, a long, long, long time ago,” McEvilly said. As part of the Metropolitan Library System’s “Noon Tunes” series, he will bring his variations on Mozart’s works at 11:30 a.m. Thursday to the atrium of the Downtown Library, 300 Park Ave.
If you’re interested in the endeavor, you’d better catch this performance.
“This is it for now,” McEvilly said. In lieu of improv, he will embark on a “Route 66 Tour of Oklahoma” in the next few months, where he plans to play more faithful renditions of Mozart and other classical composers’ works in libraries of rural Oklahoma towns. He has been performing similar programs in the metro for seven years, entertaining all ages with piano masterworks.
Although he will improvise from Mozart’s sonatas on Thursday, it’s not something he needs to do to keep interested in his repertoire’s well-traveled pieces.
“They are such that every time you play them, they seem real simple, but you see something new every time,” McEvilly said. —Stephen Carradini