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Pianist Serves Up Humor With His New Age Music

Fri., Dec. 15, 1995, midnight

David Lanz plays New Age piano music that is, in his own words, “civilized.”

But when it comes to his between-songs patter, he’s about as civilized as Victor Borge falling off his piano stool.

“Victor Borge makes fun of the whole classical thing as kind of hoity-toity and pretentious,” said Lanz, who plays The Met on Wednesday. “And some people think some of the New Age musicians are kind of self-absorbed. But I have a hard time taking life seriously, although, on the other hand, I’m really serious about my music. But there’s a lot of humor in life. Why not have a good time on stage?”

Between the good times, his audience in Spokane will also get a full dose of his haunting and spare piano pieces. He will play some of the Christmas songs from his beautiful Christmas CD, “Christmas Eve” (1994). But he will also play a variety of his non-Christmas music, from such successful albums as “Cristofori’s Dream” (1988), “Skyline Firedance” (1990), and his recent retrospective, “Beloved: A David Lanz Collection” (1995). He will also play some selections from an upcoming album, “Sacred Road.”

Lanz, from Seattle, is familiar to all followers of New Age music. His album “Cristofori’s Dream” is the the third biggest New Age album of all time, behind only “Sheperd’s Moon” by Enya and “Reflections of Passion” by Yanni, according to the Billboard magazine charts.

To his delight, he has now become familiar to an entirely different constituency - young piano students. The Hal Leonard music publishing company has published four David Lanz songbooks.

“At first, they said, well, piano books don’t really sell, but it might be nice to have some New Age stuff,” said Lanz. “Well, they blew out about 5,000 of those songbooks in about half or a third the time it usually takes. Now I have all of these piano teachers with their students coming to my concerts.”

He said that kids like his music because it has a classical feel and structure, but with the simplicity of a pop song.

“Kids also like it because I’m alive,” said Lanz.

Classical musicians are one group that he has yet to capture.

“Real intellectuals don’t like my music, the real hard-core intellectuals,” said Lanz.

But even though some of his pieces have a classical feel, he doesn’t pretend to be a classical musician.

“I’m writing pop instrumentals, really,” he said.

Lanz said this week that he is just coming off one of the “great gigs of my life.”

He played a solo concert Sunday night at Alice Tully Hall in New York’s Lincoln Center.

“According to the people there from New York, they say New York audiences never give standing ovations,” said Lanz. “And I got two of them last night.”

Lanz has played Spokane several times and he even got his lighting and production designer, Doug Davidson, from Spokane.

When he played a show here with the dancer Christopher Aponte in the 1980s, Lanz was so impressed with Davidson’s design that he hired him when he went on tour.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: David Lanz Location and time: The Met, Wednesday, 8 p.m Tickets: $18.50

This sidebar appeared with the story: David Lanz Location and time: The Met, Wednesday, 8 p.m Tickets: $18.50

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