Harlem stride piano lecture/recital to feature WCIPC finalist
Chengcheng Ma will host a free piano lecture/recital on Friday, Dec. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Weatherford College’s Alkek Fine Arts Center. The lecture’s theme is Thomas “Fats” Waller: A Giant of Harlem Stride Piano.
Ma, a doctoral student at Boston University, was a finalist in the 2021 Weatherford College International Piano Competition. He will perform with special guests Dr. Hyeyoung Song on piano and WC student Elijah Thomas on drums.
Harlem stride, or simply “stride,” is a style of jazz piano that was developed in large cities of the East Coast in the 1920s and 1930s as an extension of ragtime. The lecture will include historical and biographical information on Fats Waller and the stride style, followed by a scholarly analysis of several compositions by Waller.
“Taking time as a classically trained pianist to investigate and appreciate the creations and techniques that came out of Harlem stride piano in the 1920s-40s is both interesting and enlightening,” Ma said. “There is a great deal of worthy information and approaches we can explore and can gain much by studying the transcriptions and recordings of the time period. Pianists of any genre will be inspired by the great pieces and performances by Fats Waller and other stride giants.”
Following the lecture, Ma will perform some of Waller’s most notable original and arranged solo and duet pieces, including “Honeysuckle Rose” (1929), “Handful of Keys” (1929), “Viper’s Drag” (1934, arr. Chris Conz), “Georgia On My Mind” (Hoagy Carmichael/arr. Fats Waller, 1941) and “Carolina Shout” by James P. Johnson (1921).
“In the past years, we musicians realized that music is much more powerful when it's shared in person,” Ma said. “I especially want to express my thankfulness to Dr. Hyeyoung Song for making it happen. I very much looking forward and hope to see you there in early December!”