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Video and story: Southwest Colorado Concert season opens to full house

'Pianist to the Presidents' David Osborne holds master class for students

David Osborne, known as “pianist to the presidents,” wowed the crowd at his Monday night performance, accompanied by Denny Morales on bass and Paul Stubblefield on drums and vocals.

The David Osborne Trio opened the 2017-2018 season of the Southwest Colorado Concerts season to a full house.

According to Jason Witt, president and director of concert operations, it was one of the most successful events to date.

Osborne taught a master class to Montezuma-Cortez High School students on Monday afternoon.

A booking error delayed the trio’s arrival in Cortez and postponed the master class.

Witt thought the teaching that Osborne did during the master class was something completely unique to the students.

“They were able to receive teaching that is sometimes only available at the college level,” Witt said. “Especially for those band students that understood the language, they got a ton out of it because unless they go on to do a college-level education in music, they wouldn’t have received some of that. So I think it was received very well by the students who had a love of music.”

In an interview before the class, Osborne said he was excited to perform to a “real nice bunch” and wanted to give hope to the kids.

“I want kids to not only learn music but learn how to make a business and career out of music because so many music schools stress performance and not practicality,” Osborne said. “Music has to be entertaining, and it has to reach people. Whether they go in the recording field or teaching field, it has to be entertaining and fun, and that is what I project.”

According to Witt, the series is growing; about 30 of the 71 students who attended the master class returned with family and friends for the main performance.

“I think we had about 30 new season ticket holders that weren’t part of our membership before. People are really taking advantage of what we have to offer,” Witt said. “There are a lot of people that would have never been able to see an act like this had it not been for this concert organization.”

Osborne started playing at the White House 25 years ago. He has now played 62 performances for six presidents, he said. He currently plays in residence at the Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas, where he has been for 10 years.

Osborne said he began playing piano at the age of 5 in church in Oklahoma where he grew up.

According to a release, Osborne graduated from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a bachelor’s degree in music performance, then studied at the University of Indiana and attended master classes at the Juilliard School. In 1984, he completed a master’s degree in keyboard from Pittsburgh State University.

Reflecting on the performance, Witt said, “It was beautiful, energetic and fun.”

“The crowd loved it, David was a great performer, and I think it was a huge success,” Witt said. “I don’t think that you could have asked for anything better.”

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