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ChristoFouri Four friends, four pianos
Unique concert will be performed Saturday at the Averitt Center at 7:30 p.m.
Michael Braz
Michael Braz - photo by Special
    What brings patriotism, the Beatles, Broadway and Emma Kelly together? Four grand pianos and four talented musicians for one night only.
    On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., the Averitt Center will present “CristoFouri.” The unique piano concert features four grand pianos on stage together, played by Michael Braz, Jerry Roberson, Ed Barr and Jerry Gowen.
    CristoFouri is a gathering of four long-time friends, celebrating the music and instrument that ties them together. They will perform a variety of musical styles and genres – everything from classical to Beatles to Broadway.
    The audience should come prepared with their favorite requests.
    “We’ll be including a ‘Stump the Band’ segment in the second half of the show,” said Jerry Gowen. “It’ll be great fun to attempt to play a song we don’t know,” he said with a wink.  
    The ‘Stump the Band’ segment will be in tribute to Emma Kelly, for whom the theater is named. Kelly was known as the lady of 6,000 songs and was famous for being able to flawlessly play any song requested by her audience members.
CristoFouri derives its name from Bartolomeo Cristofori, the inventor of the modern piano.
    “We considered several other options,” said Gowen. “But since there were four of us, the name really fit.”
    How much music has been written for four pianos? Virtually none, explained Ed Barr, who personally arranged much of the music the group will play.  
    Barr served 30 years in the Valdosta State University Department of Music and developed the first Jazz Studies program in the Georgia University System. Barr has also won several national level composition awards. He has performed professionally since age 15.
    Jerry Gowen, one of the groups’ organizers, has performed for over 40 years, logging over 7,000 hours onstage. His career began in high school with a group that included Jerry Roberson. Gowen later spent 17 years working in various capacities at Opryland, USA where he was responsible for the integrity of the musical shows.
    More familiar to the Statesboro population are two local performers, Jerry Roberson and Michael Braz.
    Roberson plays several instruments, including trumpet, piano, accordion, baritone, and guitar. Currently, Roberson tunes and rebuilds pianos. He and his wife, Sharon, own Jerry Roberson Piano, in Brooklet. He is a registered piano technician with the Piano Technician’s Guild. One of his favorite clients is local legend and Georgia Southern University’s Dr. Michael Braz.
    Braz needs no introduction to most of Statesboro. He has served as a professor of music at Georgia Southern University for 22 years. Dr. Braz has also worked with the popular Statesboro Youth Chorale and Community Choir. Braz recently returned from a one-year music teaching sabbatical in England, Nepal and China.
    Get tickets by calling (912) 212-2787. Tickets are $20 for box seats, $18 for adults and $10 for 12 and under.
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