AMA Instructor Jessica Walker writes: When Miss Ann Marie asked me to write about my experience with Oakton Community College’s Six Piano Ensemble, I thought I would answer some of the questions my students and their parents have asked me.

What exactly IS The Oakton Six Piano Ensemble?

The Six Piano Ensemble is comprised of adult students chosen through a highly selective audition process. The Ensemble was founded in 1980 by conductor Glenna Sprague, Oakton professor and coordinator of music. They will perform several types of music which include classical, ragtime, and popular music transcribed for six pianos by Professor Sprague.

The rich, layered sound of the Six Piano Ensemble compares to that of an orchestra, with each member playing a different part of a composition as the melody transfers from pianist to pianist. It’s the only group of its kind in the world, hailed by critics from Vienna to Honolulu as “extraordinary,” “unique,” and “innovative.” Just the visual image of these large instruments all together is impressive. When the music begins, your experience becomes exquisite.

How long have you participated in the Six-Piano Ensemble?

This is my 2nd year performing and what a great honor, and even greater experience it has been! When I was an audience member a few years back, I dreamed of one day being in this prestigious group. I never dreamed it would be so soon! And, this April’s performance will be my first time being a featured soloist!

This year is also extra exciting, because my colleague and co-Music Teacher at AMA, Mr. Greg Luberda, will also be performing with the Ensemble. He joined the group this past fall!

[Editor’s Note: Wow! TWO AMA Teachers are performing in this Ensemble! What a tribute to the high quality of AMA Dance & Music School’s Music Staff!]

Six Piano Ensemble with Two AMA Instructors Participating

Conductor Glenna Sprague (in blue) poses with this year’s Six Piano Ensemble Members. Our own Miss Jessica is sits at the bench, while Mr. Greg can be found at the far right.

How much do you have to practice?

Quite a bit. Being a member of the Oakton Six Piano Ensemble requires dedication. The Ensemble meets once a week at Oakton Community College during the fall and spring semesters. There are also extra rehearsals scheduled as needed before the concerts.

In addition, members of the ensemble may take private lessons or meet with the conductor outside of rehearsal to work on individual parts and solos. It is required that every member of the ensemble practice all the pieces on their own and come to rehearsals well prepared, as each member has a unique part that is important to play correctly. I cannot stress enough how much the details matter in every piece the ensemble performs. Tempo, rhythm, dynamics, articulation, and the ability to immediately react as the conductor cues for changes are just some of the musical elements and skills that are crucial to the success of the ensemble.

As performance time approaches, we will run it and record it straight through, then go back and focus on parts of pieces that can still be improved. The ensemble is dedicated to making sure that you hear a performance that you will never forget!!

When is the next performance?

Performance dates are Saturday, April 26th, at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, April 27th, at 3:00 p.m., in the Footlik Theater at Oakton Community College, 1600 East Golf Road, Des Plaines.

The concert is an hour in length and followed by a reception with some really great desserts! Individual tickets are $17 ($14 for seniors). Groups of 15 or more are $12. Oakton students are only $5!

Please note: The further back your seats are from the stage, the better the view! Request tickets towards the middle or back of the theater – NOT the front row!

Hope to see you there! I’d love nothing more than to share these moments with you!



Learn more about taking music lessons at AMA Dance & Music School! Visit our Music Lessons page and also our Music Classes for Preschoolers page.

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