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Pianist George Winston performs at convocation

April 22: Renowned acoustic pianist and multi-instrumentalist George Winston capped off the Spring semester's Stephenson Memorial Concert series with a performance at the 8-p.m. convocation in Phelps-Stokes.

George Winston

Recently reopened after structural repairs, Phelps-Stokes was packed to capacity with Berea students, faculty and staff, as well as townsfolk and listeners coming from places as far off as Tennessee.

Winston started the evening with "New Orleans Shall Rise Again" from his album "Gulf Coast Blues and Impressions -- A Hurricane Relief Benefit." As the evening progressed, his performance touched lighter notes with the stride piano piece, "The Elephant and the Mouse" and other pieces such as Vince Guaraldi's "It Was A Short Summer Charlie Brown."

In tune with the spring air, Winston played "Fragrant Fields" from his album "Summer." He followed with a piece on the harmonica, mesmerizing the audience who tapped their feet in rhythm. Winston also performed the classic "Canon" by Pachelbel.

Throughout the evening he played original pieces as well as compositions inspired by other musicians. He ended the night with "Riders on the Storm" by one of his biggest inspirations, The Doors.

Winston supports local food charities through all of his concert performances. At Berea, audience members donated non-perishable food items to the Berea Food Bank. Proceeds from Winston's CD sales also went to the Food Bank.

Winston is best known for developing his own style of melodic rural folk piano. His major influences include New Orleans R&B Piano (especially Professor Longhair, James Booker, and Henry Butler), Stride Piano, and Jazz and Melodic Piano.

Since 1980, he has released 10 highly acclaimed solo piano albums and performed widely, often benefiting disaster relief and food drives.

Established in 1987, the Stephenson Memorial Concert series brings accomplished artists from the U.S. and around the world to perform at the College, giving Berea students an understanding and appreciation of diverse cultural traditions. All performances are free and open to the public.

The Stephenson Memorial Concert Fund was established by the late Louis B. Stephenson Jr. and Edna M. Stephenson in memory of their daughter, Nancy Anne, a pianist who died early in her life. Following his death a few months after his retirement, the concerts were designated as also honoring their son, John B. Stephenson, President of Berea College from 1984 to 1994.

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