"Many former students I talk to are still playing. Piano has given value to them for decades and has continued to enrich their lives."

Whether he's in New Orleans or New Zealand -- or in Moscow, Russia or Moscow, Idaho -- classical pianist Barry Hannigan lives to perform. "It can be playing  on a concert stage in New York City or in somebody's living room," he says. "I love to play no matter where it is."

Recently, Hannigan has been having fun exploring unusual territory for a classical pianist: improvisation during concerts. "I've been improvising for myself my whole life, but somehow I never thought of including it in a concert," he says. "It is not the kind of thing that classical pianists are trained for. In fact, it would be pretty terrifying for most pianists, but I've been enjoying it."

Hannigan has released three solo CDs on Black Canyon Records. He hopes to release more soon, thanks to his appointment to the Ellen Williams Professorship in Music in 2012. He'll also use part of the award to create Williams residencies. "Pianists will come work with Bucknell piano students, and will work with me, too," he says. "There are people I would love to compare teaching notes with."

Hannigan shares his love of playing with his students by always taking a positive, supportive approach, and helping students select pieces of music that are a good fit, whatever their stage of musical development. Some go on to conservatories and become professional pianists; for others, piano makes their lives, if not their living. One former student is now a mortgage broker and mother of three children, but "she is still playing concerts," Hannigan says. "Many former  students I talk to are still playing. Piano has given value to them for decades and has continued to enrich their lives."

Posted October 2012

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