Hundreds of pianists to perform at ECC

More than 400 pianists of all ages and skill levels will perform during American Grands XIX on Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Elgin Community College Arts Center’s Blizzard Theatre, located in Building H, 1700 Spartan Drive. 

Performances will be held at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The production, which includes 462 pianists, is sponsored by Cordogan’s Pianoland, Geneva. Cordogan’s, the event’s sponsor since its inception, provides and maintains the twelve grand pianos that grace the stage at this huge annual undertaking.

This season’s performance pieces range from classical works by Handel and Beethoven to more contemporary works, including a piece entitled “Lady Gaga Fugue” arranged by Giovanni Dettori, which applies classical music styles to the Lady Gaga hit “Bad Romance.” Per American Grands tradition, all three performances will open with the “Star Spangled Banner” and close with “Star and Stripes Forever.”

“It’s inspiring to see pianists of all ages come together to perform as a group and celebrate their love of this instrument, ” music director Larry Dieffenbach says of American Grands. “We have literally hundreds of performers play at these concerts and most of our pieces feature 24 pianists, two per piano, on stage playing together. This year we’re playing with that format a bit and we’ll be doing a piece that will feature 36 players on stage at once, three per piano. It’s a truly amazing thing to witness. ”

This will be Dieffenbach’s 18th concert. He is on the music faculty at ECC, teaches privately in Geneva, and is the organist/music director at the Little Home Church by the Wayside in Wayne. He also is founder and director of the St. Charles International Piano Competition. Dieffenbach made his orchestral debut under the baton of New York conductor Broch Macelherin.

Colin Holman returns as conductor, a role he has held for 18 of the 19 American Grands concerts. He maintains an active career as conductor and musicologist in the Chicago area as music director of the Loyola University Orchestra, Fox Valley Orchestra, Fox Valley Concert Band, and the international award-winning Chicago Brass Band. He has lectured at both the undergraduate and graduate level at several area universities including Northwestern University, Northern Illinois University, North Park University, and Wheaton College.

Jon Mortensen again serves as percussionist, percussion arranger and assistant conductor, having been with American Grands since its first year. Mortensen also serves as principal timpanist for the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and the Woodstock Mozart Festival Orchestra. He also is the director of bands at Kenyon Woods Middle School in South Elgin.

Tickets to American Grands XIX are $24 for adults and $15 for children age 12 and under. 

Tickets for all performances in the ECC Arts Center are available online at or at the ECC box office located in the arts center.

 Box office hours are noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

To purchase tickets by phone, call 847-622-0300. All major credit cards are accepted.


–News Bulletin news sources