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Blogging and classical music: a perfect match?

Pianist Jeremy Denk’s blog, Think Denk (jeremydenk.net/blog), is a big hit in classical music circles. He plays Ruth Eckerd Hall tonight with violinist Joshua Bell.

Dennis Callahan | Special to the Times

Pianist Jeremy Denk’s blog, Think Denk (jeremydenk.net/blog), is a big hit in classical music circles. He plays Ruth Eckerd Hall tonight with violinist Joshua Bell.

Jeremy Denk's blog, Think Denk ("the glamorous life and thoughts of a concert pianist" at jeremydenk.net/blog), is one of the best in classical music circles.

His hilarious mock interview with Sarah Palin about Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata rocketed around cyberspace in the fall. Fans include conductor Leonard Slatkin, composer John Corigliano and pianist Andras Schiff.

Oh, yes, Denk is also playing tonight with violinist Joshua Bell at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Their program has works of Janacek, Brahms, Ysaye and Franck.

I wondered whether Denk found it annoying that he may be better known for his blogging than piano playing. "Maybe a little bit," he says. "But at the same time, the blog has brought a lot of people to my playing. Plus, I like being able to share what I'm thinking about music."

Denk, 38, was a computer geek growing up in New Mexico, and he has always been an avid reader and writer. He thinks blogging and classical music were made for each other.

"Classical music is kind of a niche thing, and the Web allows all these niche people to find each other," he says. "There seems to be this community of people who have an appetite for wry commentary on classical music."

Denk and Bell perform at 8 tonight. $35-$50. (727) 791-7400; rutheckerdhall.com.

GERSHWIN SONGS: There's an intriguing concert tomorrow in Sarasota, where singer Alexis Gershwin, niece of George and Ira, dips into her uncles' catalog. She's the daughter of Frances Gershwin, the youngest sister of the brothers who were responsible for a sizable chunk of the American songbook with shows such as Girl Crazy, Of Thee I Sing and Porgy and Bess.

Alexis didn't know George, who died in 1937, but she knew Ira. "He was very sweet," she says. "When my ex-husband and I moved (to Southern California), I went to his house every week for dinner." Ira died in 1983.

Alexis has an eight-piece band and six backup singers. She'll perform about 20 songs, such as The Man I Love, Embraceable You and The Man That Got Away. "I feel the lyrics in a way that I think is unique because it's in my genes," she says.

The concert is at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Van Wezel Hall in Sarasota. $30-$45. (941) 953-3368; vanwezel.org.

DEPARTURE: Florida Orchestra double bass player Aaron White won an audition for the Pittsburgh Symphony and will leave to take the job there at the end of the month. White has been with the orchestra since 2006.

DEALS: Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center offers 35 percent off tickets to Frost/Nixon, starring Stacy Keach as Nixon. The promo code is NIXON at tbpac.org, and the deal expires Friday.

Ruth Eckerd Hall is offering three tickets for $99 to 11 shows, including tonight's concert by Bell and Denk, the Munich Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. This is a bargain, and should spur sales in a tough time for performing arts attendance, but I wonder what people who already bought tickets at full price think.

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8716.

Blogging and classical music: a perfect match? 01/19/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 19, 2009 11:16pm]

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