KPBX Kids’ Concerts return Saturday, November 21, at 1 p.m. on KPBX 91.1 with a program about the evolution of keyboard instruments in America and music historically performed in ones’ home called “Parlor Music,” developed and hosted by Jim Tevenan, KPBX’s Piano Bench program producer, and features the area musicians Melody Puller, Timothy Westerhaus, and Mary Trotter.
Watch the live video below at 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 21.
"Parlor music,” the name describes a kind of music written for home use, especially in the period between the end of the American Civil War (1865) and the outbreak of World War I in Europe (1914). Parlor music includes mainly songs for voice and piano, but also solo keyboard music for piano and harmonium, or reed organ, and music for other instruments popular at that time, especially flute, guitar and violin.
Parlor music came to be due to three developments: advances in music-related technology, the rise of the American middle class, and the evolution of house design. The appearance of an affordable, massed-produced piano in the form of the relatively compact upright model, gave us the must-have entertainment medium during this time. Complementing that is the flood of new printed music, mass-produced and efficiently distributed throughout the country. As a relatively prosperous middle class with money to spend rose in this country, so did the interest in the diversions that music made in a family’s house could provide—in the days before the phonograph and radio, of course. And what better place to learn and perform this music than in a space dedicated to these entertainments that became a fixture in new house designs, the parlor.
Our program will explore just a few of the many aspects of parlor music: our pianist, Melody Puller, will play selections from composers who specialized in this music. It’s good music, but by composers whose names will quite likely be brand new to you.
Tenor Timothy Westerhaus and pianist Mary Trotter take us into a very special corner of the parlor music world, the salons of African-Americans, with songs by composers who were also active in the concert music realm. And host Jim Tevenan will play selections on that other keyboard instrument popular at the time, the harmonium. Also known as the reed organ, it’s that foot-pumped, somewhat wheezy-sounding instrument that, like its upright piano cousin, made a fine sound while not taking up too much room.
About our performers:
Timothy Westerhaus is the director of choirs and vocal studies at Gonzaga University, where he also serves as music department chair. He is conductor of the professional chamber chorus, Spokane Kantorei. He sings professionally as a tenor, performs as pianist in solo recitals and collaborative concerts, and leads Baroque performances from the harpsichord. He is passionate about intercultural musical exchanges, fostering positive choral community, and sparking imagination through innovative and collaborative performances. He seeks to advocate for singing among all ages and to engage choral arts with contemporary, relevant issues of society, justice, and culture in local and global communities.
Known for her lyrical and expressive sound, coach-accompanist Mary J. Trotter has been referred to as a 'poet at the piano'. Equally at home with operatic and concert repertoire, she is in high demand as a collaborative artist. Originally from Snohomish, WA, Mary holds a BA in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Whitworth University, an MM in Vocal Accompanying from Peabody Conservatory, and a DMA in Collaborative Piano and Coaching from the University of Minnesota.
Melody Puller is head of the piano department at the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint, where she has been teaching students of all ages since 2015. She lives with her family in Spirit Lake, Idaho. As a teenager, Melody used to go searching for vintage sheet music at the Sagle, Idaho Flea Market, and has built a considerable collection of old sheet music and magazines.
Jim Tevenan is a music and arts producer and classical host at Spokane Public Radio. Early on Jim taught a variety of subjects, including music and theatre, first at the high school level, but ultimately in elementary school. Throughout his various careers he has labored as a church musician, both in San Francisco and Spokane, most recently as music director/organist at St. Augustine Parish in Spokane. He started his Spokane Public Radio odyssey in 2005.