Melding Musical Genres

Indie singer-songwriter and classical pianist perform premiere together


Universal language: Dinnerstein, left, and Merritt collaborated on the world

Universal language: Dinnerstein, left, and Merritt collaborated on the world premiere of new works and reinterpretations of older ones.
LisaMarie Mazzucco (left)/Jason Frank Rothenberg(right)

Tift Merritt, a North Carolina-raised and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, and Simone Dinnerstein, an acclaimed classical pianist, presented the world premiere of their collaboration, Night, a suite of songs exploring the hours from dusk to dawn, during a two-night run this January at Reynolds Industries Theater.

They began the performance with a collaborative interpretation of Robert Schumann’s “In the Evening,” which was followed by Cat Stevens’ “Trouble.” Both artists also played solo: Merritt performed some new songs, and Dinnerstein played some selections from her extensive solo classical piano repertoire.

The evening continued with works commissioned specially for Night, including a song by Brad Mehldau, “I Shall Weep at Night,” and an arrangement of Leonard Cohen songs by Daniel Felsenfeld, dubbed the “Cohen Variations.” Merritt and Dinnerstein also covered Allen Toussaint’s “Night People,” which featured Dinnerstein on a Wurlitzer electric piano, which she admitted never having played in front of an audience.

In addition to the concerts, Merritt and Dinnerstein participated in a number of artists-in-residence activities: They held a public conversation and offered master classes in their respective specialties.

Watch video from Merritt's master class and learn more about the collaboration.

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