Sundays at Lowman Concert Series - Ethan Uslan, Piano
Ethan Uslan is a ragtime/jazz pianist based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is a 3-time winner of the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest (yes - that really exists!) and has performed all over the USA, Europe, and Cyberspace, where his jazzed-up Für Elise has gone viral. Aside from solo work, Ethan has appeared with symphony orchestras, jazz bands, improv comedy groups, and even a clown show.
When Ethan was 9, the Uslan family acquired a piano. After Ethan's mom taught him the only song she knew ("Heart and Soul"), she handed him over to classical pianist Faina Litenzon, who taught him scales, how to read music, and the importance of playing with feeling. She also taught Ethan the importance of patience and disciplined practice - traits that were completely lacking in him when he first set foot in her door.
As a teenager, Ethan wanted to try some new musical genres to supplement his classical music. He took some guitar lessons but gave up because he hated having to tune the damn thing. So he found Dan Crisci, a fine jazz pianist, who taught him the fundamentals of jazz improvisation and theory. Unfortunately, it turned out that just like classical music, jazz required patience, discipline, and scales, scales, scales. But Ethan practiced diligently. It was infinitely more pleasant than doing his homework.
Ethan went on to study classical piano and musicology at Indiana University. His classical piano professor, Edmund Battersby, put him through the ringer, assigning him diabolical etudes that put his fingers in knots. Although this led to occasional stress-induced acne breakouts, Ethan is proud to have learned certain Chopin etudes that he had previously avoided. Meanwhile, in the classroom, Ethan had the opportunity to study the history of American popular music with Jeffrey Magee, who wrote the authoritative biography of Irving Berlin.
At some point in Ethan's college career, he started to get obsessed with American popular music from the ragtime era through the 1940s. Why? Well, that stuff has a toe-tapping pulse, it's unpretentious, and it's charmingly American. All those sonatas by Beethoven and the European masters can make a New Jersey boy homesick (musically speaking). Ethan never had a teacher that specialized in ragtime piano playing. Fortunately, the other teachers in his life had given him all the tools he needed to figure it out himself.
Now, Ethan lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He plays a lot locally but also travels to help pianos in need of syncopation treatment. His performances are filled with passion, humor, virtuosity, and a deep love for America's rich musical past. His vast repertoire includes original arrangements of Civil-War era songs, New Orleans Jazz, 1920s Charlestons, blues, stomps, Harlem stride piano, swing, Cuban rumbas, jazzed-up versions of classical masterpieces, and one Hawaiian song called Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula.
2101 Dutch Fork Road
Chapin, SC 29036
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