By Resident Reed Browning —
Back in the era before phonograph cylinders and disks, before radio transmission even, families and friends would often gather to listen as two pianists, sharing one piano bench, performed pieces at a keyboard. This kind of music and performance was called “piano four hands,” or “à quatre mains,” and that’s the musical era that two wonderful friends recreated for the residents of Kendal at Granville one evening in July.
The pals were Teddy Westlake and Jackie Dawson. They report that they have been friends for 35 years. Teddy now lives at Kendal at Granville and is a long-time resident of the town, where she taught piano and founded “The Vintage Voices.” Jackie is a piano instructor at The Ohio State University. And boy, do they know how to make music.
The program featured a variety of moods, tempos, and styles. It included pieces from the 18th century (Handel) to the 20th (Joplin and lots of Gershwin). Along the way we were treated to a polka by Stephen Foster, an arrangement of “Musetta’s Waltz” from Puccini’s La Bohème, and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” by Berlin. Before bringing the rousing concert to an end, Teddy and Jackie invited us all to sing along with them as they played “Shenandoah” and “This Train is Bound for Glory.” We turned out to be a spirited choir.
Part of the joy of the evening was simply the fun we all had watching the two performers interact — their frequent switching of seats, their surprised expressions as they “chose” their music, their quick readiness to laugh with each other. The air of informality and spontaneity that infused the evening was infectious. When the concert ended – too soon, it seemed – applause filled the Amelia Room. It registered the fact that, in the words of Oscar Hammerstein II, we’d all had a real good time.