Gather Hear tour comes to Aquinnah

Concert pianist Miki Sawada traveling on the Denali Highway with piano, Gather Hear Alaska in 2017. — Andrew Rizzardi

Boston-based concert pianist Miki Sawada will tour across Massachusetts with a piano in tow throughout May 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, nonprofit organizations and city entities. According to a press release, the concert in Aquinnah will be on May 25 at 6 pm, at Orange Peel Bakery. All concerts will take place outdoors and masks are required.

Through the Gather Hear Tour, Sawada is on a mission to perform in all 50 states, inspiring human connection across political and socio-economic divides. The project was launched in 2017 in Alaska, when Sawada performed 25 concerts in cafes, bars, lodges, galleries, schools, and parks.

The Gather Hear Tour was founded directly in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, when Sawada 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. 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 passersby to complete the sentence, “Before I die, I want to…” with a piece of chalk.

“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,” Sawada says in a press release. “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 in Aquinnah is supported by the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council. The commission of Ariel Friedman’s “Before I Die” is supported by a grant from New Music USA.

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