Those of us who are “classically curious” but put off by the prospect of such music-world clichés as starchy formalwear and intimidating ticket prices have a friend in the Monmouth Conservatory Of Music. The Red Bank institution’s long-running series of public-welcome concerts have brought an impressive roster of guest artists to town in a setting that’s free of pretension (and often free of charge).
Those of us whose appreciation of fine music is helped immeasurably by some enlightening background info — and who have been meaning to look in on one of the MCM’s monthly offerings at its downtown space — can do no better than to check out this Sunday’s return visit by David Dubal, the radio host, essayist, music professor and pianist whose encyclopedic expertise and engaging interview skills have netted him a Peabody, a Deems Taylor Award, and an Emmy (if not yet a Grammy).
Best known for his video The Golden Age of the Piano and his book/CD Remembering Horowitz, the longtime faculty member at the Juilliard School is a familiar voice to many thousands of radio listeners, an internationally touring concert pianist and lecturer, an author (The Essential Canon of Classical Music), interviewer (Conversations with Menuhin), critic, competition jurist — not to mention a celebrated visual artist whose paintings have been collected and exhibited worldwide.
Beginning at 4 p.m., the master multi-tasker will be performing and presenting an illuminating introduction to The Life and Art of Sergei Rachmaninoff. The Russian-born 20th century composer/ pianist/ conductor best remembered for his piano concertos (plus numerous melodies that have earwormed their way into pop hits, movie soundtracks and Olympiad routines) was a living link to the previous century’s romantic traditions of Tchaikovsky and Brahms; a celebrated concert virtuoso who was nonetheless something of a man out of time, as well as a reluctant exile from his homeland. His life story promises to be the stuff of some fascinating words and music from Dubal, when the guest sits down at the grand Steinway of the Conservatory for his third appearance there in recent seasons.
It all happens at the MCM’s facility conveniently at 50 White Street, opposite the municipal parking lot, where just a couple of hours earlier the 69th annual Red Bank Halloween Parade is scheduled to wrap up its festivities.
The concert is a ticketed event this time out, with adult admission priced at $20 and half-price $10 tickets available to seniors (age 62 and up) and conservatory student parents. Current MCM students and children 18 and under are admitted free of charge, and (recommended) advance reservations can be made by calling (732) 741-8880, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.