Some students at Akron’s Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts got a double dose of composer George Gershwin on Wednesday.
Pianist Levi Hammer, Akron Symphony Orchestra’s assistant conductor and Akron Youth Symphony’s music director, donated his time at the school. He performed several Gershwin compositions, including selections from Porgy and Bess and Rhapsody in Blue for the whole school, then conducted a master class on Gershwin’s music for the school’s 47 piano students.
“We are just so grateful to Levi Hammer for helping the students make 88 great at Miller South,” piano teacher Gwen Hayes said, explaining that 88 refers to the number of keys on a standard piano and “Make 88 Great” is the theme for her students. “We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary at the school, and I’m trying to offer 20 piano performance opportunities to the students,” she added.
Hammer’s appearance was the fifth piano semi-concert arranged by Hayes this academic year.
Those who performed at earlier events were Miller South alumnus Mark Greer (1994-96), an instructor at Malone University in Canton, and Miller South eighth-grader Alantae Alexander and seventh-graders Hannah Coffman and McKae Matthews.
Hammer is set to perform Rhapsody in Blue, a jazz/classical hybrid, with the Akron Symphony at an Oct. 13 concert at the University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall.