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New Classical Tracks: Anderson and Roe Piano Duo honors mothers with musical tribute

Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe pay tribute to motherhood in their latest recording. Lisa-Marie Mazzucco
4min 58sec : New Classical Tracks: Anderson and Roe Piano Duo
34min 59sec : New Classical Tracks: Anderson and Roe Piano Duo (extended)

Anderson and Roe Piano Duo — Mother: A Musical Tribute (SWR Music)

"Motherhood might be perhaps the ultimate form of creation, but as artists we are giving birth to new pieces, to performances, to new ideas all the time. And so, it felt like a fitting sort of theme and tribute to the wonderful maternal figures in our lives," says Elizabeth Joy Roe, pianist and one half of the Anderson and Roe Piano Duo. Mother, a musical tribute, is the latest recording from Roe and duo partner Greg Anderson.

The idea for the project came to the duo while they were performing at the Gilmore Festival.

"Initially, this kind of got under way when we performed on Mother's Day at the Gilmore Festival a couple of years ago, and we wanted to pay tribute to our mothers who were attending that concert. We saw just the huge variety of ways mothers have been portrayed in music over the years, and that really got us excited and got us thinking about what it means to represent motherhood through music," explains Anderson.

An important part of the project was representing the diverse aspects of mother figures.

"And also, we like to tap into the diverse aspects of women or of people that serve as mothers you know. Mothers aren't merely beautiful beings who emit tenderness but they can also be saucy women or saucy figures like Mrs. Robinson, and so we took that classic Simon and Garfunkel tune and lovingly added it to the mix because sometimes mothers are only seen in one way," says Roe.

"When I think about my mother, there are times like in Bohemian Rhapsody when the singer just sings, 'Mama!' That closeness one might get with their mother. And I mean I certainly have many instances in my life where it's just like I want that. All of these emotions, certainly as we were putting the album together you know, just kept coming up in us and we kept remembering our own histories and pasts with our mothers," adds Anderson.

You open the recording with Dvorak's Songs My Mother Taught Me. Why was that the right piece to start this project?

Roe: In a sense, our lives are almost like this record of the lessons that we've learned through our mothers and from our mothers. And you know Dvorak just beautifully captures memories almost that he's evoking through the music. And that piece is just also beautiful. My mom loves that piece.

Greg, there's a piece that you really love and it's a bonus track on this recording, which represents one of opera's most beautiful, yet tragic mothers from Puccini's Madama Butterfly. It features an a cappella group called Accent.

Anderson: We met them several years ago at a speaker conference, the entertainment gathering EG, and became wonderful friends with them and kind of fantasized about the idea of some time performing together. as we were putting the album together, I brought up Madame Butterfly and how much I loved the humming chorus and suddenly an idea germinated and blossomed and we went to them and discussed things and crafted an arrangement of the work together with them.

Roe: And for all the music nerds out there, we incorporated various quotes from other butterfly related pieces. So just putting that out there.

Anderson: Yeah, there's some Grieg and Schumann in there.

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


Mother: A Musical Tribute (Amazon)

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