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American Grands concert set for Elgin Community College
Daily Herald Staff Report

Hundreds of performers hailing from dozens of area communities will take the stage at 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, for the 15th annual American Grands concert .


Courtesy ECC

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Published: 1/24/2010 12:13 AM

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American Grands, the piano event of the year, will have its milestone 15th annual concert on Saturday, Jan. 30, at Elgin Community College. Hundreds of performers hailing from dozens of area communities will take the stage at 1, 4 and 7 p.m. in the Visual and Performing Arts Center Blizzard Theatre on the ECC Main Campus, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin.

Previously a mainstay of the former St. Charles Music Festival, this ECC production is sponsored by Cordogan's Pianoland, Geneva, the event sponsor since its inception. Cordogan's has provided and maintained all pianos for this huge undertaking each year. The event is a musical extravaganza, and will showcase players of all talent levels and ages.

"American Grands is an event unlike any other," said Music Director Larry Dieffenbach. "For one day, the Blizzard Theatre is transformed into a venue featuring a dozen pianos with one to three musicians at each instrument. This is a must-see concert for fans of music, especially the piano."

American Grands has grown in size each every single year, exceeding 480 applicants earlier in the fall. Dieffenbach states, "We get so excited as the registrations start coming in each year. It proves the enduring popularity of this beautiful musical instrument across multiple generations of musicians."

This will be Dieffenbach's 14th concert. He is on the music faculty at ECC, teaches privately in Geneva, is on the faculty of Kindermusik of St. Charles and is the organist/music director at the Little Home Church by the Wayside in Wayne. He also is founder/director of the St. Charles International Piano Competition. Dieffenbach made his orchestral debut under the baton of New York conductor, Broch Macelherin.

Colin Holman returns as conductor, a role he has held for 14 of the 15 American Grands concerts. He maintains an active career as conductor and musicologist in the Chicago area as music director of the Fox Valley Concert Band, Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Brass Band and the St. Louis Brass Band. He also teaches undergraduate and graduate music history at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb.

Holman leads the musicians in arrangements for multiple pianos highlighting both classical and popular music.

Jon Mortensen will return as leader of the initial rehearsal, and performs as percussionist with a full percussion section. He has been with American Grands since the first year, serving as percussionist, percussion arranger and assistant conductor. Mortensen, a music educator for the past 25 years, has a broad theater background, and is principal timpanist for the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and the Woodstock Mozart Festival Orchestra since 1986.

Tickets to American Grands XV are $22 for adults and $15 for children age 12 and under. Tickets for all performances in ECC's Arts Center are now available online at or at the ECC Box Office located in the Arts Center. Box office hours are noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

To purchase tickets by phone, call (847) 622-0300. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express are accepted. For more information about the ECC Arts Center's season, visit