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Eight hands, 176 keys, one beautiful sound page 2
Four women, all over 75, play the piano throughout the year as they practice to master Mozart and Bach

 'Ladyfingers' (from left) Miriam Parsons, Ann Doumas, Edie Dyal and Rhoda Eagan run through a dress rehearsal earlier this month at Doumas' home in Fredericksburg before giving their annual performance for the Mary Washington ElderStudy group.
photos by PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 12/25/2012

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The women give some background on the composers whose music they play, and the necks of those in the audience crane to see pairs of hands prancing up and down the keyboards.

A LOT OF COORDINATION

There are quartets, when all four women play at the same time, performing music written specifically for eight hands.

There are duos, when two women at two different pianos play the same piece of music, together.

And there are duets, when two women sit at one piano and play a piece written for two pianists.

"It takes a lot of coordination and synchronization" for two or four people to play together, said Jean Calloway, a piano teacher. "In a way, it's more difficult than solo playing."

Anne Platt was at the tennis court the morning she heard about the concert and headed straight to the Doumas home.

"I just am amazed at the skill of their fingers and the lightness of them, darting across the keys," she said, complimenting their flexibility, movement and strength, especially for such complex music.

She was glad she was in the audience, even if she was still wearing her tennis skirt.

"I can't think of a more lovely thing to do on a Monday afternoon," she said.

ON THE SAME NOTE

The quartet has played together since 2005. Dyal and Eagan, as well as Doumas and Parsons, played as partners before then.

None had done quartets because it's difficult to find a place with two pianos.

All learned the piano as children and enjoyed playing into their adult years, as time and schedules allowed.

Parsons taught others for 24 years, and Dyal earned a doctorate of education in music and taught on the college level.

Doumas learned the piano from her mother and was an accompanist to her own children and their friends when they did school shows.

Eagan enjoyed choral singing and piano lessons through her teen years. Later, when her parents retired in Florida, they sent her "my little piano, and I was so happy."

The women practice weekly throughout the year, as long as one or the other isn't vacationing or visiting relatives. They're devoted to their music, but not to the point that all they can think about is delivering the perfect performance.

After the first concerto of the rehearsal show, Parsons let out a big sigh of relief.

She turned to the audience and said: "I'm always happy when we end on the same note."

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
Email: cdyson@freelancestar.com


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