April 4, 2016

Billboard's most-charted Jim Brickman realizes dream in Rochester

Jim Brickman
He's Billboard's most-charted Contemporary artist of all time, but you might not recognize Jim Brickman by name. However, pull up a clip of hits like "Valentine," "The Gift," and "If You Believe," and you'll instantly recognize his music. With a career spanning more than 20 years, the Cleveland native is known for romantic piano melodies, pop instrumentals, and vocal collaborations with artists like Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, and Kenny Loggins, to name a few. Brickman brings his talent and signature wit to his RPO debut at Eastman Theatre on Thursday, April 30, a performance he calls "a realized desire." Find out why in our exclusive Q and A!

This if your first time playing with the RPO, but you have performed in Rochester before, right?
Yes. I’ve played there about 15 times. I usually play the Auditorium Theatre at Christmas and have also performed solo shows and with special guests at Nazareth College and in the Finger Lakes. I’ve always wanted to play the Eastman Theatre. I actually applied to Eastman School of Music and didn’t get in! [side note: Brickman attended the very prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music] I plan on telling the audience "I got here finally, that’s what I wanted!” It's a realized desire.

What will we hear you perform with the RPO?
I always play the hits. I’m lucky to have them so I think they should be played in every concert. I will also debut some material I just wrote for the Olympic Games in Brazil. The rest ranges from Kermit the Frog to Deep Purple’s "Smoke on the Water" and even an electric violin concerto.

And you have an electric violinist who tours with you, right?
Yes. Tracy Silverman is a Juilliard-trained musician. He plays with symphonies all over the world. He provides a cinematic quality to the concert. He will perform a concerto for electric violin that I wrote called “Serenade.”

Tell me about vocalist Anne Cochran who will also perform with you.
I’ve known Anne since we went to high school together. She was my female vocalist in high school and still tours with me. The Rochester fans know Anne. If she wasn’t here, they might turn around and leave! We have been performing together for 35 years. She is a charming and wonderful performer.

You started playing piano at age five. Was that choice or your parents?
Starting piano was my choice. My parents are extremely unmusical. It’s just part of me. I grew up taking classical piano and pop improvisation. At the core I think of myself as a songwriter who plays the piano. I am fortunate to get to soar with the beauty of an orchestra of such high caliber like the RPO.

When did you start writing music?
I started writing at 12 years old. As a teenager, I got jobs writing commercial jingles. Jingles are a great job for a songwriter at that age because you aren’t evolved enough to write love songs. When you write about kitty litter, you don’t have to have an emotional connection to the cats!

When did you decide to make a career as a musician and songwriter?
I never thought of doing anything else besides music. I wasn’t interested in being onstage. I wasn’t that kid who was seeking the spotlight. I just loved music and it took shape in performing. I’m just me onstage, and it’s that authenticity that attracts people to me.

As a songwriter, who are your musical influences?
It’s a combination of pop songwriters: Carole King, some Beatles, Burt Bacharach, Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin. I write in a very melodic and cinematic way, but its origin is in my classical training.

What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
About a year ago, someone I did not know proposed to me by sending a live dove via FedEx. I was pretty scared at the time. I didn’t know live doves could be mailed and it was still alive. My agent contacted them and said, “We appreciate you being there for Jim, but you can’t do that!”

Wow, I can see how that would be scary but it’s a funny story to tell! You also host a national radio show every week. Tell me about it. (Airs Sundays on Warm 101.3 8AM-11 AM)
It’s a lifestyles show that’s aired for over 20 years. We cover everything from health and wellness to money and finances and Hollywood news. It’s basically “The Today Show” on the radio. I have spent so much of my adult life being interviewed and this gives me a chance to be on the other side. I am a naturally curious person.

If you had to pick your favorite song you’ve ever written, what would it be?
It changes every now and then, lately it’s a song called "Simple Things". Every day is a brand new chance to be or do something that you want to do. That’s what a new day represents. It will definitely be on the RPO program.

If you go
Jim Brickman

Saturday, April 30 at 8 PM
Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre
Tickets start at $22

A limited number of post-concert meet-and-greet tickets are available for $100 per person. Call the box office at 585-454-2100 to purchase. Quantities are limited!

Jim Brickman shares a special message with Rochester!

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