Walking into the Keynote on 2nd Avenue in Williamson the usual nightclub is
transformed into a temporary music hall. High top tables with white tablecloths, lanterns with
burning candles, and café lights hanging above. On the dancefloor sits a piano and a small
table complete with tea-making supplies. Concert pianist, Miki Sawada, is ready to share
her talent and passion for classical music with the audience.
The Gather Hear tour began in 2017 in Alaska. Sawada considers the piano as a place where
people are drawn to sing, listen, or simply gather. The goal of the tour is to travel to all fifty
states sharing and performing. The second state on the tour agenda is West Virginia. After
connecting with The Art Brigade team in Williamson, this rural town was added as stop nine on
the list of twelve. This tour seems to be as much of a social experiment as it is an evening to
listen to beautiful music. Audience participation is mandatory in between each classical piece.
Spectators are asked to come to the piano area to assist in tea making while chatting about
their connections to the small town. Off to the side, with eyes unblinking, children watch the
musician play. A sixteen-year old taking in the show is called upon to trade places with Miki.
Kristine Brucal proves her piano lessons are paying off.
Accompanied by composer, Brendon Randall-Myers, Miki plays an original composition he
created. Each member of the audience is given a square of bubble wrap and instructed
to not pop the bubbles until the pianist begins to pop hers.
“The show will be over when the last bubble is popped,” announces Sawada.
As the piano becomes silent, the first bubble is popped. Then, the sound of popping bubble
wrap fills the space, like raindrops hitting a tin roof. With the last pop, the show is
As the audience claps, Miki Sawada smiles and takes her bow. The Gather
Hear Tour in Williamson is a success. The piano was a gathering place for the night. People
of all different ages and backgrounds came together for two hours to be inspired by music. Old
friends talked before the show. New friends stay to discuss the music after the final note is played. Families with children take pictures with the concert pianist from New York. For the
night, music brought everyone together.