Booked For Frederic Chiu

The Westport Library’s Transformation Project has been a daring adventure.

For nearly 2 years, officials masterminded a top-to-bottom (literally) metamorphosis of an already great institution. In less than 3 weeks they’ll cut the ribbon, opening it officially to the world.

Last night, a couple of hundred folks got a sneak peek.

The opening reception, prior to Frederic Chiu’s performance.

Library officials took the bold step of scheduling — as their first event in the new space — their signature fundraiser of the year.

Booked For The Evening is a night of fine food, socializing, and honoring a noted member of the literary or arts world. Expectations are high.

The library had never tested its innovations before a live audience. High-tech video and sound systems; a beautiful Yamaha Disklavier piano that can play itself; the vaunted grandstand seating — all rolling out for the first time ever.

Frederic Chiu accompanies himself on two pianos. To find out how, read on.

It was one of the best Booked evenings ever.

The stunning reception area; the new performing arts space; the flow, the ambiance, the energy — it was all there, just as the hundreds of men and women who had worked for so long on the project hoped (and prayed).

Westport LIbrary director Bill Harmer and Sybil Steinberg, contributing editor and former book review section editor for Publishers Weekly, enjoy the event.

Frederic Chiu — the world-renowned pianist and longtime Westporter — gave an inspired performance.

In keeping with the theme of the night — and the Transformation Project’s emphasis on creativity — there were wonderful touches.

The audience voted to see an alternative (happy) ending to Prokofiev’s “Romeo & Juliet” ballet, performed by dancers Marlon Grigsby and Harlee Trautman, as Chiu inaugurated the new piano.

Chiu then played a movement from Philip Glass’s “4 Movements for 2 Pianos,” with his protégé Timo Andres.

WSHU classical music host Kate Remington served as “Booked for the Evening” MC.

There were video — and live — tributes to the honoree.

Then, the finale: Chopin’s “Rondo in C Major, Opus 7 for 2 Pianos.” Chiu did something he’s never done, in his long career: He accompanied himself. The magic came courtesy of the Yamaha; one part was recorded weeks ago.

It was a warm, varied and community-minded evening. It flowed easily, and flawlessly.

Grandstand seating proved popular — and grand.

This morning, everyone who was there is talking about Frederic Chiu — and the newly transformed Westport Library.

It will be booked — by proud, pleased patrons — for decades to come.

(The ribbon-cutting and opening ceremonies for the new library are Sunday, June 23. Festivities begin at 11 a.m., and last until 4 p.m.)

Frederic Chiu: star of the show. (All photos/Dan Woog)

6 responses to “Booked For Frederic Chiu

  1. Mark Yurkiw

    Truly the most spectacular evening I ever experienced in Westport and felt very fortunate to attend. To paraphrase an appropriate quote-” it takes a whole town” to pull something of this magnitude off. This was a multi-year effort by hundreds of dedicated & generous people. All I can say is WOW! The icing on this cake was to hear one of the best pianists in the world, Frederick Chiu, bring tears to your eyes with his passion to connect the audience. Kudo’s to Bill Harmer for getting us there. Come one come all to “experience” the library of your future.

  2. Ashley Skatoff

    Frederic Chiu playing Chopin (a duet with himself via technology) made me love this town even more. Brilliant. And to hear him while sitting in a spectacular public library…available to all…The Light.

  3. Jeffrey Jones

    One of my favorite places to spend time in the 50s and 60s.

    Carry on, and be silly when the spirit moves you.

  4. Patricia R. Theobald

    Wow. Sorry to have missed that!

  5. Amy Schneider

    I am sorry I missed Frederic Chiu and the wonderful evening. Although I realize that libraries are now meeting places and learning centers, I miss browsing the rows and rows of stacks of books. I’ll be going to Pequot and Fairfield Libraries.