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Leppard and Tobias to play benefit piano concert with DK dancers

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Raymond Leppard said that the last time he played piano for dancers was when he was a school boy growing up in Bath, England. “I grew up with five girls who were daughters of a local doctor. We made a pantomime and there was a lot of piano music to be played and that sort of thing.” Fast forward to the present—the world-renowned Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and esteemed musicologist Marianne Tobias will play a Dance Kaleidoscope benefit piano concert, “An Invitation to the Dance,” Saturday, Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. at the Shrott Center for the Arts on the campus of Butler University. Recently, Examiner spoke with both Leppard and Tobias by phone about the event.

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The concert will include “Ancient Airs and Dances,” by Respighi, “Gymnopédies,” by Satie, and “Mother Goose Suitem” by Ravel. The dancers will perform as Leppard and Tobias will each play a grand piano.

Leppard has conducted the New York Philharmonic, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic, and nearly every major orchestra in the world. Before retiring, his last position was conductor of the ISO. Leppard is also a composer.

Tobias has enjoyed a varied career. The Indianapolis native graduated cum laude from Harvard University and holds an artist diploma from Longy Conservatory of Music of Bard College. She also worked for chef Julia Child at WGBH while she was in the Boston area. Later, she worked as an assistant to Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Dominick Argento, while living in Minneapolis, and taught at the University of Minnesota and St. Paul Academy and Summit School. Tobias returned to Indianapolis in 1986, after which she became the resident program annotator for the ISO. She now serves on its board of directors.

For Tobias, this is her first time playing for dancers. “It is going to be very hard to take a ritard when they are in the air, so a lot of this is maintaining just a steady, steady beat and staying with them. It’s not like it would be for another instrumentalist. I am nervous but I am also very excited for this experience. I don’t know what it’s like but I want to try,” she said.

When it comes to playing together Leppard said, “We know each other pretty well and have lots of laughs and lots of pleasure.” To which Tobias added, “I have played with Raymond so much. First of all, it’s a great honor and I love it when we do it. I know very much what he is going to do and that is enormously securing, both from a point of ensemble and from the point of emotional relationship.”

Regarding Dance Kaleidoscope itself and the chief reason he agreed to participate, Leppard said, “I think they are wonderful. I think they are quite a lot underestimated in Indianapolis. David Hochoy does such original work. I find it a very remarkable group and David a very remarkable person.” It’s a sentiment echoed by Tobias, who said, “I believe in the mission and history and the whole institutional culture of Dance Kaleidoscope and what it brings to our city. It is here throughout the year and not just one splash. They are a resident dance company and they have wonderful dancers.”

As far as Hochoy, Tobias said, “David has this fantastic dance pedigree and when you get someone in your midst who has this kind of performance background and ability to communicate about his art and get other people to do it….that’s an unusual kind of stardom. He’s a master choreographer, a master dancer, and a master teacher.”

General admission tickets to “An Invitation to the Dance” are $50. VIP tickets (limited to 50) are $125. This includes preferred seating and a post-performance reception with Leppard, Tobias and the DK dancers. For tickets call (317) 940 - 6555 or visit www.dancekal.org.

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