On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., the Averitt Center will present a holiday version of "CristoFouri." The unique 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. The group will play holiday tunes they are confident will entertain the audience. According to Ed Barr this show will be fun, fast-moving, family-oriented, and as with every CristoFouri performance, there will be a surprise or two.
"People love music of this holiday season and we have gotten requests after each of our performances to do a holiday show," Barr said.
CristoFouri derives its name from Bartolomeo Cristofori, the inventor of the modern piano. Gowen said the four considered several options for the name of the group but considering there are four of them, the name fit well.
"I imagine that every song we play will be known by everyone in the audience," Barr said. "That presents us with the unique challenge of having to present the music in such a fashion that it will be entertaining to the listener even though it has been heard many times."
That is not the only challenge that the group faces. Virtually no music has been written for four pianos, said Barr, who personally arranged nearly all of the music the group will play.
Early in Barr's professional career, he was appointed director of bands at Charlton County High School in Folkston, Ga. Two of his outstanding music students were Gowen and Roberson.
After teaching at the middle and high school level for several years, he served 30 years in the Valdosta State University Department of Music and developed the first Jazz Studies program in the Georgia University System.
Gowen has performed for more than 40 years as a pianist, conductor and arranger. Gowen currently teaches piano and vocal coaching at the St. Simons Conservatory of Music.
More familiar to the Statesboro population are two local performers, Roberson and 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.
"Playing in CristoFouri is challenging for me, but always rewarding in the end," said Roberson. "Each player has different ideas, but initially we all want to please the audience with variety of music and humor while throwing in element of surprise."
One of his favorite clients is Georgia Southern University's Braz.
Braz has served as a professor of music at Georgia Southern for 22 years and also has worked with the Statesboro Youth Chorale and Community Choir. He has written orchestral and choral commissions for professional, collegiate and community ensembles across the country.
Tickets are available by calling the Averitt Center for the Arts at 912-212-2787 or visiting the Emma Kelly Box Office at 33 East Main Street in Statesboro, GA. Tickets are $24 for box seats, $22 for adults and $10 for youth ages 12 and under.