Pianist back from Europe to play Visit here full of engagements

February 26, 1993|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Contributing Writer

When last Anne Arundel County audiences saw and heard Douglas Keegan, the young pianist from Glen Burnie was headed to the renowned Warsaw Academy of Music -- Frederic Chopin's alma mater -- for further study.

Now, 2 1/2 years later, the gifted 25-year-old musician has returned home temporarily to present a recital. Mr. Keegan will give a concert tomorrow evening at North County High School under the auspices of the Performing Arts Association of Linthicum.

His audience won't get cheated. Mr. Keegan will be playing the Haydn F Minor Variations, three pieces from Brahms' Opus 118, the Fourth Sonata of Scriabin, Debussy's "Estampes," and a wealth of his beloved Chopin: the Second Ballade, the Opus 33 Mazurkas, and the great A-flat Polonaise.

"I know it's a big, challenging program and I'm definitely looking forward to it," says the pianist. "I haven't played here in a while and I feel like I've learned a lot since then. I'm just happy to be sharing what I've learned."

Mr. Keegan's month-long stay at home will be a busy one. He will also be performing in recital next week at the College of Charleston, S.C., on the invitation of his former Peabody Conservatory teacher Enrique Graf, and will be celebrating Chopin's 183rd birthday with the Polish National Club of Baltimore shortly thereafter.

His studies at the Warsaw Academy are going well, he says, under the watchful eye of his teacher, the 68-year-old Regina Smendzianka, whose playing is well known in Poland and Asia.

"She's the most elegant woman I've ever met," Mr. Keegan says. "She's unbelievable -- very knowledgeable about music and many other things, and a wonderful pianist to boot."

The young pianist may have gone to Poland to immerse himself in the music of Chopin, but he's making strides across the entire piano repertoire.

"It's actually a set program," he explains, "and we are required to play everything from the French Baroque to the avant-garde. The diversity is pretty amazing."

These also are pretty amazing times for Poland, generally.

"When I first arrived there," he says, "Warsaw seemed awfully gray. It's still gray, but there are splashes of color here and there. With private ownership, after all, if they have to paint the store, they paint the store."

The pace of change is striking.

"There are two McDonald's, a Burger King, a Pizza Hut and a Levi's jeans factory already," he says. "It's happening so fast, it's unbelievable."

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