Greg feels that the piano repertoire is an amazing "library" of cultural diversity. Although it is a relatively new invention in the history of mankind, the piano has been embraced by disparate cultures from around the world over the past 300 years. Greg's passion is documenting this cultural and musical evolution through concert programs and recordings that focus on a specific world region or era in time and celebrate their rich contributions to music.
For his international projects, Greg is collaborating with MSR Classics (www.msrcd.com) to record his programs, and is arranging concert tours, lectures, workshops, and residencies in the United States and abroad that promote international cultural exchange and appreciation. Greg's first release with MSR Classics showcased his own culture and experiences growing up in the American South. Southern Quilt (MSR CD 1092) features piano works written by both Southern composers and those inspired by Southern culture. It includes compositions by Gottschalk, Kerry Mills, William Grant Still, Frederic Rzewski, and North Carolina composers Kenneth Frazelle, Julie Harris, and one of Greg's own works. By integrating the distinct genres of American romanticism, contemporary composition, ragtime, folk, gospel, avant-garde, blues, and jazz, Southern Quilt chronicles the evolution of a rich musical heritage and celebrates the history and rich culture of the South and the diversity and expressive power of the contemporary composer’s voice. The CD was recorded at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City, and "on location" in North Carolina at the United Church of Chapel Hill and the Chatham Label Mill in Pittsboro. Southern Quilt received an enthusiastic review from Fanfare Magazine after it was released in 2004. Greg has performed this music for concerts and residencies throughout the United States, Caribbean, United Kingdom, France, and Hong Kong.
Greg's current endeavor in this series, Voyage à Paris (MSR CD 1233), explores the development of French piano music around the turn of the twentieth century and includes works by Franck, Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc and Messiaen. This time period was one of the richest and most prolific in the history of French art and music. Paris was the mecca for this musical and artistic evolution, and all of these composers ended up making the "City of Light" their home and place of work. Voyage à Paris takes the listener on a journey from the late Romantic work of César Franck, through the evolving harmonic language of Gabriel Fauré, and on to the Impressionistic works of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. The musical voyage concludes with the influence of French cabaret on the music of Francis Poulenc and the radical and explosive joy expressed by Olivier Messiaen in his mystical writing.
For this project, Greg embarked on his own journey. He began by studying French in summer school at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2004, and traveled to France and spent the summer of 2005 in Saint Germain-en-Laye, living only four blocks from the place of Debussy's birth. He immersed himself in French art at the famous Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, and Musée Marmottan, and tasted the cuisine and culture of Paris. He heard the great Cavallé-Colle organs played by Franck and Messiaen, and enjoyed strolling in the quaint streets of Montmartre, the "playground" of Satie, Poulenc, and "Les Six." Other excursions around France took him to Monet's home in Giverny, the last home of Van Gogh in Auvers sur Oise, the great cathedrals of Chartres, Orleans, Rouen, Amiens, Rheims, the Chateaux of the Loire Valley, and Mont Saint-Michel. He also visited renowned Debussy scholar Paul Roberts at his summer course near Toulouse.
For the completion of Voyage à Paris, Greg was an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, in the winter of 2007, where he was able to put the finishing touches on the music for the CD and give performances. Greg returned to France in the summer of 2008 for performances at the Eglise Saint-Merri in Paris, and he collaborated with French photographer Frédéric Behar for the photographs for the CD. Greg has performed this repertoire in the United States, France, Canada, and Hong Kong, and will give future performances in France and abroad. The CD was recorded in January and September 2008 at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, and will be released early in 2009. Greg is indebted to the generous support of his patrons, which has made this entire project possible. Merci beaucoup!!