Recital Program Themes

Do you need a theme for your next recital? Or maybe you just want to mix things up a bit…beyond the usual chronological or leveled order? Try some of these ideas:

  1. Melodic Exposition. Choose pieces with a strong or memorable melodic line.
  2. Piano Themes and Variations. This theme offers lots of possibilities and allows for student compositions and duets!
  3. Songs of Home. Songs of Childhood. Choose songs that celebrate childhood or that have a sense of nostalgia for you.
  4. Songwriter. I once juxtaposed songs by Schubert with modern compositions, highlighting the themes and musical techniques that each composer used in a unique way.
  5. [Name of composer] and Friends. I once did a Bernstein and Friends concert, showcasing works by Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Antonin Dvorak, and George Gershwin. All of these composers had some musical or personal relationship with each other.
  6. Piano Showcase. How about choosing songs that show the versatility of the piano and pianist?
  7. Latin Dances. There is wonderful piano music written by various composers in Latin America. Start out in Brazil, move to Spain and Mexico, and close in Argentina!
  8. His and Hers. How about highlighting songs by men and women composers? Include pieces written by siblings Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn, and husband and wife pair Robert and Clara Schumann.

If you already have songs chosen and need to figure out how to tie them together, consider how they might relate by composer, time period, nationality, key, or musical form. If you still cannot find relationships, how about a study of contrasts? With a little creativity (and perhaps a splash of narration or some written program notes), you can come up with a cohesive program that engages your listeners and excites your performers.

Would you like more ideas on Creative Programming? Try this article.

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