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Concert Is Music to His Years

February 20, 1992|ANN KLARNER

Something seems wrong here. The music sounds Baroque, all right, but the melody is more like what you heard last week wailing out of some kid's boombox. Has Hammer gone Bach in time?

Actually, no. It's Richard Grayson's 23rd annual Classical Keyboard Improvisation and Live Electronic Music Concert on Friday night at Occidental College. "Most improvisation is nowadays jazz or pop music," said Grayson, who is chairman of the music department at Occidental. "I do piano in the style of composers from the Renaissance to the 20th Century. Five hundred years of musical styles."

For the first half of his concert, Grayson will take musical themes suggested by his audience and manipulate them into how they might have sounded in the 1600s, for example. He is frequently offered current popular music, such as a song by Hammer. He turned it into a fugue, not an easy thing to do with rap. Grayson admits he sometimes has to ask an audience member to hum the request. "I don't know everything," he said.

The live electronic music will be the second half of his concert. His first piece will be one of his own compositions, "Reveries." The music division of Yamaha, also the motorcycle company, commissioned the piece from Grayson last summer to be played on the company's Electone HX-1 keyboard.

Grayson will finish the evening with a little help from his friend, Mac. Together, they'll do a special arrangement of the Bach Concerto in F major for harpsichord. Mac, by the way, is a Macintosh SE computer with a MIDI interface, allowing Grayson to focus on playing a synthesizer while Mac fills in the other seven parts. Grayson's concert started out as a regular faculty recital, but because of his love of improvisation, that's what he came to focus on. "It's exciting for performers and audiences," he said, because of its spontaneous nature.

The concert takes place at 8 p.m. in Thorne Hall on the Occidental campus at 1600 Campus Road, Los Angeles. Admission is $5, or $2 for students and seniors.

Say, how would "I Get a Kick Out of You" sound as a Sousa march?

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