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From Executive Director Susan Scott
Those of you who already know Rachel Flowers will doubtless be pleased to see her in this week’s MC8 slot, and those who don’t will appreciate the introduction. Now in her 20’s, Rachel was born prematurely, became permanently blind at three months and started demonstrating clear prodigy chops at age 2, when she could pick out on the piano every song she heard. At 4, she began Conservatory studies, learning the Braille Music Code and adaptive computer applications along the way. Rachel is a composer as well as performer, proficient on piano, flute, guitar, ukulele and bass and fluent in both classical and jazz genres. Her memory, pitch and musicality are, simply, extraordinary.
Rachel has performed for or with a stunning array of musicians, including Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Arturo Sandoval and 70’s progressive rock supergroup, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, known for a distinct musical sound incorporating classical with jazz and symphonic rock elements. Rachel discovered and was inspired by the band’s music – by Emerson’s playing and compositions in particular. They met and developed a friendship based on mutual respect and musical genius. When Keith Emerson died a few years ago, Rachel was invited to perform at the tribute to his life in Birmingham England. His compositions rank high in her repertory today.
Rachel is the subject of Hearing is Believing, a wonderful documentary by filmmaker Lorenzo Destefano. With thanks to him, we begin MC8 with short clips from the movie, including her performance at age 10 for Ray Charles. Then it’s on to a live performance in Libbey Bowl with Rachel playing Malambo by Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera, in an arrangement by Keith Emerson!
Here’s to lifting spirits with the marvel that is Rachel, and the gorgeous power of music played before a live audience.