GALES OF NOVEMBER Featuring: Prudence Johnson, Ruth Mackenzie, Claudia Schmidt & Eric Peltoniemi
This album is a gathering of all of the songs from “Ten November,” the critically acclaimed musical drama by composer-lyricist Eric Peltoniemi and playwright Steven Dietz.
Compelling and imaginative, the play and its music explore the mystery and controversy surrounding the now famous Fitzgerald tragedy and remind us how tenuous and precious are our ties to those we love in the awesome power of nature. At the heart of it is the Great Lake Superior: a serene beauty, a fearsome force, a giver and taker of life. The CD includes the bonus track, “White Caps in the Ditch,” from an early draft of the play, but not included in the final version of the score.
Richard Dworsky is one of those rare musicians who is so well rounded he can’t easily be categorized. He’s a classically trained pianist and composer who rocks, swings, plays great Blues and Gospel, tears it up on Hammond B3 organ and keeps up with world class pickers playing his unique “Bluegrass piano” style; who composes classical, theater, and film music; writes exquisite jazz ballads; and has the amazing ability to improvise compositions on the spot in virtually any style.
For the last 20 years, he’s been the pianist /music director for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, a live radio variety show with an audience of over 4 million in the USA, as well as overseas audiences on England’s BBC, Australia’s ABC, and Armed Forces Radio. On the weekly shows, Richard provides original theatrical underscoring, leads The Guys All-Star Shoe Band, and performs as a featured soloist. A regular since 1986, he has accompanied Keillor and many of his guests including: James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Chet Atkins, Emmylou Harris, Carole King, Elvis Costello, Taj Mahal, The Everly Brothers, Yo-Yo Ma, Brad Paisley, Renée Fleming, Jerry Douglas, Mark O’Connor, Kristin Chenoweth, Shawn Colvin, and Mark Knopfler. He has appeared on many of Keillor’s CDs (including five nominated for Grammys) and videos, and in TV specials on The Disney Channel, PBS, and the BBC. Richard frequently appears with Keillor in concerts throughout the United States and Europe as a duo, with orchestra, and with Keillor’s Hopeful Gospel Quartet. He made his on-screen film debut as pianist/bandleader in the 2006 Robert Altman film, A Prairie Home Companion, with an all-star ensemble cast including Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, Lindsay Lohan, Kevin Kline, and Keillor. Behind the scenes, Richard also served as the film’s music director, arranger, and composer.
Dworsky’s original compositions for piano (and piano with ensemble) can be heard on his CDs So Near and Dear to Me and The Path to You. His solo piano piece A Morning With the Roses has become a worldwide New Age classic, selling nearly a million copies on such Billboard charting records as Windham Hill Record’s Piano Sampler, Windows-Windham Hill 25 Years of Piano, and Windham Hill Chill.
Richard was the pianist/co-producer of The Guys All -Star Shoe Band’s CD Shake It, Break It, and Hang It On the Wall, and in 2001 performed with the band, and special guests Garrison Keillor and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, on a German National Radio broadcast recorded live at Berlin’s famed jazz club The A-Trane.
Broadway/TV/Film star, Kristin Chenoweth recorded Richard’s song Goin’ to the Dance With You on her 2001 CD Let Yourself Go (Sony Classical); and performed it on PBS’s Evening at Pops with the Boston Pops Orchestra in 2004.
Richard (aka Rich or Richie) grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota and began classical piano lessons at the age of six. By age 11, he was studying piano at the University of Minnesota. In his teens, he began playing for theatrical productions and joined his first rock band. When just out of high school, Rich joined forces with jazz vocalist extraordinaire, Al Jarreau, for a two year stint in Los Angeles performing as a duo, and with a band, and writing and recording songs together. He toured with Warner Bros. country-rock group Mason Profitt and returned to Minneapolis to major in music at the University of Minnesota.
Beginning in 1975, he spent seven years at Minneapolis’ world renowned Children’s Theatre Company where he played piano, conducted, and composed scores for musical theater productions including The Marvelous Land of Oz (MCA Video; televised on Showtime). It was during this period that Richard developed his masterful theatrical improvisation technique which would later serve him so well on A Prairie Home Companion.
In addition to his own recording projects, Rich has played on albums with artists such as mandolinist/fiddler Peter Ostroushko, guitarist Pat Donohue, singer songwriters John Gorka, Robin and Linda Williams, his sister Sally, and many others.
He has performed solo for crowds of over 30,000 at inter-faith peace and unity conferences in India; has performed in concert with guitar legend Chet Atkins, the Turtle Island String Quartet, and harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy; has scored music for documentaries seen by millions on India’s Doordarshan and Zee TV; wrote and performed music for the animation A Joan Walsh Anglund Christmas narrated by actress Jean Stapleton; has written arrangements performed by Garrison Keillor and conductor Philip Brunelle with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Cincinatti Pops, Ravinia, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra; wrote PHC’s Guy Noir theme and Catchup theme (which he sings); and is heard daily on public radio playing the theme for The Writer’s Almanac.
He is also a synthesizer player, recording engineer, and producer ; and founded Inner Vista Records and Publishing Company.
Richard’s richly diverse musical experience has resulted in his unique eclectic compositional style, and has enabled him to easily go from conducting the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra on A Prairie Home Companion to playing with Cajun stars Beusoleil avec Michael Doucet, and then turn around and improvise music under author Frank McCourt reading from his Pulitzer Prize winning Angela’s Ashes, or author/anchorman Tom Brokaw reading from his Christmas memoirs. And when, live on the air, Garrison Keillor suddenly wiggles his fingers behind his back, signaling Rich to play some music off the top of his head (with millions of people listening), Dworsky, without hesitating, steps up and does what needs to be done.