Mixing technical virtuosity with heartfelt emotion, pianist Robin Spielberg will take the stage at The Center for the Arts in Natick on Friday, Dec. 4.
Her hands dancing across the keyboard, pianist Robin Spielberg plays for her audiences the "soundtrack of my life's journey."
Mixing technical virtuosity with heartfelt emotion, she performs songs she composed about her three cats, moving to the country with her family and her grandmother who buried for years the grief of losing a son.
"When I play for audiences, I don't think about technique at all. I've already practiced in the studio," said Spielberg from her home in New Freedom, Pa. "I don't look at a show as a performance. I don't want my technique to show. I like to say I'm sharing music with my audience."
Known as "America's sweetheart of the solo piano," Spielberg will appear Friday, Dec. 4 at The Center for Arts in Natick.
She expects to play songs from her new CD, "A New Kind of Love," along with crowd pleasers and personal favorites from her earlier 14 albums.
"I like to mix things up and in between songs tell stories about what inspired them," said Spielberg. "I tell people I'm like a singer-songwriter who doesn't sing."
Recorded on her trademark Steinway piano, the 15 original compositions, like "Picking Flowers" or "The Orange Fox Waits," evoke soothing natural scenes that transport listeners beyond their everyday distractions.
"Moving with my husband and daughter to New Freedom marked a turning point in our lives. In these songs I wanted to express different ways of finding love for the world," said Spielberg. "I've come to feel most of the major things in my life happen when the audiences weren't there. I wrote these songs to share my appreciation for those moments."
She's planning a surprise treat for the Natick audience which is sure to have a special member.
Spielberg will read passages from her yet-to-be published memoir, "Naked on the Bench: My Adventures in Pianoland."
And she expects to play "Eileen" for her sister Eileen Davis, a Framingham resident who directs the Samaritans Inc.
TCAN Executive Direct David Lavalley said Spielberg creates "visual dreamscapes with her music."
He said her music combined some elements of interpretive pianist George Winston and Enya, an New Age composer from Ireland.
"For me, Robin's appeal is her unique ability to turn her notes into pictures. It's like she's taking you into a daydream," he said.
Lavalley said in two earlier audience-pleasing appearances at TCAN Spielberg proved herself to be "a wonderful, imaginative storyteller."
"Robin is unique among storytellers. She can express herself almost as beautifully in words as in music," he said.
Lavalley said Spielberg kicks off a trio of holiday season musical acts he expects will satisfy a wide range of entertainment tastes.
Grammy-nominated songstress Paula Cole will perform Saturday, Dec. 19 in TCAN's annual benefit gala.
Described by Lavalley as "the Beatles of a capella music, The Bobs will perform on Friday, Dec. 11. And on Saturday, Dec. 12, the Jazz Arts Trio, led by nationally known concert pianist Fred Moyer, will play "exact note by note" transcriptions of several jazz classics.
"We'll really be offering something special for everyone's musical tastes," said Lavalley.
Spielberg recalled her 20-year career as a mixture of serendipity and disciplined perseverance.
Growing up in New Jersey, she began practicing piano at 7 and shortly afterward composed a song about Hans Christian Anderson's "Ugly Duckling."
Born with perfect pitch, Spielberg believes she inherited her passion for music from her paternal grandfather who played in the NBC symphony orchestra led by Arturo Toscanini.
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in fine arts from New York University, Spielberg spent a few years playing in New York piano rooms where she estimates she memorized between 500 and 700 songs.
She recorded her first of 15 albums in 1993 and went on to sell out Carnegie Hall where she performed before her beloved 93-year-old grandmother. Over the years, she has toured throughout the U.S. and Asia and performed in "more American concert halls than any other living female composer/pianist."
But for Spielberg one of her greatest blessings was the birth and survival of her now-9-year-old daughter, Valerie, who was born prematurely weighing only 12 ounces. While fighting an infection that kept her from her daughter, she asked her husband to play her music on a CD player for her.
"I told my husband, 'I can't see her. Give her Mommy's voice.' It gave us all this hope," she said. Valerie improved and Spielberg made a CD titled "Beautiful Dreamer" based on the experience.
As a result of that experience, Spielberg serves as celebrity spokeswoman for the American Music Therapy Association.
In her spare time, Spielberg devotes herself to her garden where she's planted 500 bulbs this year and grows crepe myrtles from Georgia, peonies and pink, white and red hibiscus. She also described herself as a "ninja pingpong player."
Performing several shows a month, Spielberg is especially looking forward to playing before her sister Eileen and family members and old friends in Natick.
"For me, the piano is my yoga and my Zen," she said. "Once I'm sitting on that bench, I feel great. I feel just right. It feels like I'm home."
The Center for Arts in Natick is at 14 Summer St. in downtown Natick.
Robin Spielberg will perform Friday, Dec. 4 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $16 and $18 at the door.
After the show, Spielberg will sign copies of her CD.
For information or to order tickets, call 508-647-0097 or visit www.natickarts.org.
For information, visit www.RobinSpielberg.com.