COLDWATER – Tibbits Opera Foundation will present a special piano concert featuring Russell Gates Saturday, July 31 at 7:30 pm at the Tibbits Opera House as a way to say thank you to the community while also welcoming a new donation of a baby grand piano from the estate of Dzidra Bonfiglio Shamuluas.
Gates will perform selections of film music for the first act of the concert. The second act will be devoted to “Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2.” The concert is free and open to the public.
According to Tibbits Executive Director, Christine Delaney, “The community and so many individuals have been there for us through this unprecedented year. We want to say thank you in a way that’s special. The delivery of the grand piano gave us the perfect instrument, literally and figuratively!”
Delaney explained, while the theatre was closed, donors gave to membership with many increasing their gifts, others gave to the Board Match Challenge for which the board of directors were also generous. As work continued while the building was closed, many also contributed to match the Sound & Tech improvement grant. “Tibbits is truly blessed to have such overwhelming support,” Delaney added.
While many have heard him play at events throughout the community, few have had the chance to hear Gates play in a full concert setting. He has performed piano professionally for 20 years. From an adage of a college advisor— “You don’t get a degree in music- you get a life in it”—Gates has made a life filled with unique musical experiences.
He performed in show band orchestras on worldwide tours with Holland America, Regent, and Royal Caribbean/Celebrity/Azamara Cruises, accompanying thousands of shows. Guest entertainer highlights were actor/comedian Marty Allen, the Temptations Tribute, Sesame Street Musical Director Marty Henn, X-Factor finalist Austin Drage, Britain’s Got Talent saxophonist Julian Smith, and American Idol singer Lou Gazzara. As a Stowaway Pianist, Russell also put his spin on the ups and downs of “elevator parties,” creating sing-alongs and unforgettable memories.
A Coldwater graduate, he won the Kalamazoo Symphony’s Youth Composition Contest in 2001 with his composition “Moment of Triumph” which was performed in multiple venues by the KSO and the MESA Symphony Orchestra. During his teen years, he was a student of jazz pianist and Gilmore Artist Ron Di Salvio. He received his Bachelor of Science in Music Composition / Piano Performance at Hillsdale College. Highlights of his college career include performing with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, at the Music School of Prague, and Loyola University for the 16th New Orleans Piano Institute. Gates has participated in master classes with international piano competition winner Alan Chow and Woody Herman Band Pianist Chip Stephens. Accompanying Metropolitan Opera Countertenor Andre Nemzer in his personal concert was a memorable outlier. Regularly busking Grand Rapids’ Art Prize and engaging in Play Me, I’m Yours festivals domestically have provided him the perfect excuse for travel and meeting new friends.
Tibbits Opera House is located at 14 S. Hanchett St. in Coldwater, MI. The concert is at 7:30 pm, seating will begin at 7 pm. The building opens at 6:30 to enjoy the art gallery, gift shop and Ghost Light Bar. For more information, go to Tibbits.org or call 517-278-6029.