Concert Pianist Tours Massachusetts With a Piano, to Perform in Chelsea

Boston-based concert pianist Miki Sawada will tour across Massachusetts with a piano in tow from May 6 – May 30 as part of the Gather Hear Tour. Sawada will perform for free in 13 towns and cities across the state, presented by various small businesses, non-profit organizations and city entities – with one stop in Chelsea Square.

The concert in Chelsea will be at Chelsea Square on May 13 at 6 p.m., presented by Chelsea Prospers. All concerts will take place outdoors and masks are required.  For the Chelsea Square show attendees are encouraged to bring their own chair or blanket.

Through the Gather Hear Tour, Sawada is on a mission to perform in all 50 states, inspiring human connection across political and socioeconomic divides. The project was launched in 2017 in Alaska, when Sawada performed 25 concerts in cafes, bars, lodges, galleries, schools, and parks. By taking classical music outside of concert halls and into beloved community gathering spaces, presenting it in a friendly and inclusive manner, Sawada aims to break down typical barriers of entry to classical music and create occasions for us to feel connected and human. 

The Gather Hear Tour was founded directly in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, when Sawada despaired over the reality of American life that was bared, and looked for ways to use classical music as a positive force. The project chronicles Sawada’s travels and encounters in a blog and vlog series, documenting American life through the lens of a musician.

In Gather Hear Massachusetts, Sawada will tour with a program that reflects the past year in pandemic-age America. Florence Price, a Black composer who attended Boston’s New England Conservatory and was the first woman of color to have a piece performed by a major American orchestra, will be represented through her Piano Sonata. Also on the program is Franz Liszt’s Piano Sonata, arguably one of the most virtuosic and dramatic pieces for solo piano. A commission by Boston-based musician Ariel Friedman rounds out the program, with a piece titled “Before I Die,” inspired by artist Candy Chang’s public art project of the same title which places murals in public spaces and invites passers-by to complete the sentence, “Before I die, I want to…” with a piece of chalk.

Sawada says of Gather Hear Massachusetts, “This will be a once-in-a-lifetime tour. I hope there’s no other time like this where I’m forced to take a 14-month performing hiatus, and for the public to be deprived of the joy of hearing live music together, which can’t be replicated by any technology. We’ve all grappled with the same issues in the last year – of the Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate movements, the presence of death all around us, the war on truth throughout the election process. We’ve all been waiting for the time to gather and start to heal together, and I hope these concerts will be an uplifting experience to do just that.” 

The Gather Hear Tour is a project fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas. Gather Hear Massachusetts is supported in part by multiple Local Cultural Councils, local agencies that are supported by the Mass Cultural Council. The commission of Ariel Friedman’s “Before I Die” is supported by a grant from New Music USA. 

Sawada is a international concert pianist based in Boston who has performed in North America, Europe, and Asia at venues and occasions such as: Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Roulette Brooklyn, Helsinki Music Centre, The Arctic Philharmonic (Norway), Oneppo Chamber Music Series at Yale, Toronto Summer Music Festival, Music on Main (Vancouver), Chicago Symphony Center’s Macy’s Day of Music, the Banff Centre, and radio stations WQXR (NYC), WFMT (Chicago), All Classical (Portland), and KUAC (Fairbanks). In the summers, she serves as a faculty member of the Heifetz Institute. Sawada holds degrees from Yale School of Music, Eastman School of Music, and Northwestern University.

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