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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Q&A with pianist Jacqueline Schwab

  • You may not know Jacqueline Schwab by name, but her piano tunes are hard to miss if you've ever watched a Ken Burns documentary.Her subtle tunes set the tone in Burns' reknown documentary, “Baseball,” and stir emotions with “The Civil War.”She has performed for decades across the country in ban...
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  • You may not know Jacqueline Schwab by name, but her piano tunes are hard to miss if you've ever watched a Ken Burns documentary.
    Her subtle tunes set the tone in Burns' reknown documentary, "Baseball," and stir emotions with "The Civil War."
    She has performed for decades across the country in bands, solo and has played to the beat of many different genres. Schwab has performed in Hannibal before and she returns Thursday, Nov. 1 to perform at the Mark Twain Museum.
    Q What led you to a career as a pianist?
    A I started playing the piano because my grandmother was a pianist, a wonderful classical pianist. She played on the radio in Pittsburgh. I love that when you play the piano, you can be the whole orchestra.
    Q Was there any type of particular music you started playing?
    A It seems like that I have a sound that's very personal. And I think one thing that makes it different, even though I'm an improviser, I'm not an improviser so much in the field that you're used to thinking are the go-with words for improvising. I'm not a jazz artist, although I play jazz music.
    Q How did you get in touch with Ken Burns and start working together?
    A That was just a really lucky break for me. It came at a time when I didn't even own a television. When somebody from his office called, I didn't even know who he was. He needed somebody to come into the studio and improvise variations on the themes that he's picking. It changed my life in lots of ways.
    Q Were you a baseball fan before you met Ken Burns?
    A I'm embarrassed to say I've only been to a few games in my life. When I lived in Pittsburgh I was a Pirates fan and living in Boston I was a Red Sox fan. When I have a chance to watch it TV, I love watching the movement quality of the players. My dad is a baseball fan, my brother-in-law and my nephew. I'm certainly around baseball a lot.
    Q How would you rate your life post-Ken Burns association?
    A It depends if you're a glass half-full or a glass half-empty person, and I think I'm one of the people who struggles to be a glass half-full. I've been very, very fortunate to have that break. That doesn't mean it's made me a rich or famous person. I'm still my own agent and I spend most of my day on a computer looking for work, packing and unpacking. People send me CD orders and I send them out. Hope to sometime get home and see my husband, I love to cook and I love to cook for him. It's not the life of leisure.
    Page 2 of 2 - Q What are you looking forward to in your return to Hannibal?
    A I love being in Hannibal. I have a solo recording, "Mark Twain's America," that is separate from my work on Ken Burns' Mark Twain series. I've been doing concerts about Mark Twain's life, I'm not a historian, but I love to talk to the audience about him.

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