Pianist Russell Gates Featured at Smith Memorial Concert Sept 16

COLDWATER – Tickling the ivories at Tibbits Opera House, pianist Russell Gates will perform for the 22nd annual Smith Memorial Benefit Concert on September 16.


The annual benefit, organized by Diane Smith Pridgeon and her sister Susanne Smith Wise, honors the memories of their family Ruth, Robert, Douglas and Dean Smith. Years ago when their father and two brothers died in a small plane crash, the farming community rallied around the family to help them harvest their fields. The annual musical celebration, as Pridgeon has explained, “is a way for us to give back to the community that loved us back to life…”


Pridgeon said, “We are so happy to showcase Russell Gates on the Tibbits stage.  Over the years other local talent has been featured, including Woody English, Chris Hodson, Alison Reese and Chelsea Hart Melcher. We know you’ll enjoy the flare Russell brings to many well-loved melodies!”


Gates’ performance for the benefit concert will feature a variety of bouncy, colorful tunes and a selection of jazz including “Rhapsody in Blue”. Having performed piano professionally for over 20 years, Gates has an expansive list of credits. 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.


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.


Proceeds from the concert this year will fund the Coldwater Community Center. Over the years, different non-profits have benefited from this event, including Habitat for Humanity, the local food pantry, the health clinic, Hospice, Family Promise, Tibbits, area choir programs, and others.


Pridgeon is excited to name the Coldwater Community Center as this year’s designated charity, since they are “helping to bring about connectivity to our community, which was celebrated last year at this concert. It’s exciting that Coldwater now has a meeting place where all cultures can come together.”


Tickets for this benefit performance are $20 for adults and $10 for students. All prices include fees. Tickets are available online at Tibbits.org, at the Tibbits Admin Office at 93 W. Chicago Street 9 am to 5 pm weekdays, by calling 517-278-6029, as well as at the performance. There are no additional fees for ordering online.


The performance is held at the beautiful historic Tibbits Opera House, 14 S. Hanchett Street, in Coldwater. It begins at 7:30pm with doors to the theatre, Ghost Light Bar, and Art Gallery open at 7pm. For more information, call or visit Tibbits.org.



Cutline: Local pianist Russell Gates will perform for the 22nd annual Smith Memorial Benefit Concert on September 16. Proceeds from the benefit will support the Coldwater Community Center. Tickets will be available soon at Tibbits.org.