News & Updates
Last month the “Left-Handed Pianist” team had the opportunity to travel to Virginia to meet Joan Ripley, the daughter of Paul Wittgenstein. Paul was the talented, one-armed pianist who commissioned the Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand (and many other pieces for the left hand!).
At the shoot, Joan and Norman met for the first time and it was a day that none of us will forget. Joan shared stories of her father with Norman. Norman shared his own personal journey with Joan. As an extra surprise, Norman played the beloved Ravel piece on Paul Wittgenstein’s very own piano (and we filmed it all!). We were also thrilled to hear Norman play some new pieces that he has been mastering.
We are so grateful to Jason Stephens, who is part of our producing team and helped make this shoot possible. We can’t wait to share all this footage with you–meanwhile enjoy the pics!
This past October, the Kartemquin film crew joined Norman in Connecticut to follow his journey as he prepared for his first piano concert playing with a full orchestra. We kicked off the week by celebrating Norman’s 79th birthday with his son and his family (coincidentally the concert was being held in his son’s new home town)! The rest of the week we filmed Norman’s every move as he diligently rehearsed day and night.
Sometimes the rehearsals were with the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra at the auditorium, at other times Norman practiced on the stage alone. Other times we were at the home of the talented conductor, Richard Chiarappa, who went over cues with Norman over and over again. (Special thanks to Richard’s wonderful wife, Martha, who set up a feast for us every night!). Setting up a shoot for a full concert was a challenge, but nothing compared to the challenge Norman was facing. Norman was to play the very complicated “Piano Concerto for the Left Hand” by Maurice Ravel, and although he had practiced it for nearly 60 years, playing it at home alone was very different than playing it with a full orchestra.
Finally, the big day arrived. Friends and supporters from Chicago joined him for the special event. Nothing would prepare us for the emotion we would all feel as we watched Norman playing before a standing-room-only audience. We held our breath and when he finished his piece, our admiration for Norman only grew. We can’t wait to share Norman’s amazing story with all of you in our upcoming documentary!