Nature and Culture Meet in Mitch McKay’s Piano Concert at SF Friday, Sept. 27, 2019

Nature and Culture Meet in Mitch McKay’s Piano Concert at SF Friday, Sept. 27, 2019

September 12, 2019 – “Where Nature and Culture Meet,” the tagline of Visit Gainesville-Alachua County, is the theme of associate professor of Music Mitch McKay’s fall piano concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, in the Santa Fe College Fine Arts Hall.

Tickets are $15 for adults; $9 for University of Florida students with a UF identification card, seniors over 60, and children under 12; $5 for Santa Fe College (SF) students with an SF identification card; and free for Santa Fe College faculty, staff and retirees with a valid SF identification card. For information or tickets, call 352-395-4181 or visit

“The concert will focus on the natural beauty and cultural richness of the region that includes Gainesville and Alachua County,” McKay said. “One of the pieces I’ll play, ‘Fantasia in B,’ was composed by SF adjunct professor of Music Sheila Forrester. This piece represents the ‘culture’ element of ‘where nature and culture meet.’”

“’Fantasia in B’ for piano is dedicated to Professor Mitch McKay, who performed the premiere in a Fine Arts Hall recital last year,” Forrester explained. “It’s influenced by both Debussy and Mozart and their unique approaches to form. A fantasia is a fanciful, imaginative piece that departs from current stylistic and structural norms.” “Fantasia in B” has been chosen to be included on a forthcoming CD from the Contemporary Record Society. “I am delighted that Mitch will be the performer on this recording,” Forrester concluded.

Santa Fe College professor of Biology Jerry Johnston, who directs the Santa Fe River Turtle Project, will take the stage to give a brief presentation about North Central Florida’s freshwater springs, how important they are for turtle species diversity and why and how we should work toward preserving them. Following Johnston’s talk, McKay will play three pieces inspired by water by European composers:  Claude Debussy’s “Reflets dans l’eau” (“Reflections in the Water”), Franz Liszt’s “Les Jeux d’eaux a la Villa d’Este” (“The Fountains of the Villa d’Este”), and Maurice Ravel’s “Jeux d’eau” (“Fountains” or “Playing Water,” inspired by “river god laughing as the water tickles him” and by Liszt’s piece).

In a nod to native fauna and the Butterfly Rainforest, a popular exhibition at the Florida Museum of Natural History, McKay will play “Butterfly” by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg and “Papillons” (“Butterflies”) by Jamaican composer Oswald Russell. McKay described both pieces as “short, quick, and lighthearted, depicting the fluttering flight of butterflies.”

McKay will also feature “Dances in the Canebrakes” in three movements—“Nimble Feet,” “Tropical Noon” and “Silk Hat and Walking Cane”—by Florence Price (1887-1953), the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer. “I’ll introduce this piece, which is a lovely combination of lyrical melodies and syncopated ragtime rhythms, by talking about how canebrakes—thickets of giant bamboo grasses–were a natural habitat of the Florida panther and how habitat loss almost led to the panther’s extinction,” McKay explained.

For more information about the concert, call McKay at 352-395-5144.