Pay Tribute to Pianist Robert Pritchard

The internationally recognized All-Steinway School, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, was the venue for a magnificent piano concert to benefit Cheyney University, the oldest of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) featuring pianists Henri Delbeau and Michael Slavin. The University organized the event in collaboration with the co-sponsors, the Washington International Piano Arts Council (WIPAC) and the Panamerican-Panafrican Association, Inc. (the PaPa).

 
Held at the University’s Marian Anderson Music Center, the concert was also a tribute to pianist Robert Starling Pritchard, who was one of the first American virtuoso concert pianists and composers of African descent to perform classical music. A Steinway artist himself, Pritchard was the first to commercially record a classical piano music recording in 1962. And “as a humanist,” wrote musicologist John Godfrey Doyle, [Robert Pritchard’s] “dedication to music is but one manifestation of his interest in the greater world of men and art.”
 
Cheyney University Interim President, Dr. Frank G. Pogue stated, “We are here to pay special tribute to a person’s name and the person himself, whom we have known for many years and whom we have heard so many times because of his success.”
 
Pianist Delbeau, performed an extraordinarily challenging work by Sergei Prokofiev, the “Sonata in B flat major No. 8, Opus 84” with great virtuosity, beautifully highlighting the musical themes which the composer wove throughout the composition.
 
Pianist Michael Slavin performed the Felix Mendelssohn Rondo Capriccioso and three of Chopin’s most well-known works , ”Ballade No 1, “Andante Spianato,” and the “Polonaise Brilliante opus 22.” Michael Slavin stated that he had selected the Chopin works honoring Robert Pritchard citing how Chopin was also a favorite of his. Slavin’s mastery at the piano reflected the ability of a true artist
Cheyney University Interim President, Dr. Frank G. Pogue, presented the artists Delbeau and Slavin with a Cheyney University lapel pin before their performance and with the pin welcomed them into the Cheyney family. He thanked them for participating in an event to benefit the Cheyney University Fine Arts Degree Program headed by Prof. Marietta Dantonio-Madsen.
 
The Executive Director of the Panamerican-Panafrican Association, Inc., Henri Polgar thanked WIPAC for partnering with the PaPa in this commemoration and referred to the importance that music had in Dr. Pritchard’s life, “Music was the source from which all his blessings flowed.” As a stalwart leader in the Anti-Apartheid movement and supporter of the African Liberation Movement, Dr. Pritchard was also a champion of human rights in his own country.
 
WIPAC’s founder, Chateau Gardecki, introduced the pianists Chateau Delbeau as the 2005 winner of WIPAC competition and Michael Slavin as the 2014 winner of the WIPAC competition. She also presented a check to the Cheyney Fine Arts Department Chair, Ms. Dantonio-Madsen to launch PIPAC (Pennsylvania International Piano Artists Council).
 
Also acknowledged at the event were Cheney Professor of African Art, Helena Domenic, Ms. Althea Harris of the Cheyney Foundation and Portia and Michael Davidson. The “88 Keys Student Art Exhibit” featured the artistic talents of Cheyney Fine Arts students.

 

 

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