Rosedale pianist John Greer warbles like a songbird when he talks about his role in arranging the music for Mooredale Concert’s A Talent to Amuse: The Words and Music of Noël Coward performance.
The 62-year-old is seated on his couch in front of a picture window overlooking Rosedale. He’s called this spot, at Sherbourne and Elm streets, home since the 1980s.
A lot may have changed in the area, but his taste for Coward’s music hasn’t, he notes as he sips licorice tea.
Although Greer has arranged the music for the concert, slated for Nov. 6, he’s also a member of the performing Palm Court Trio, featuring cellist Adrian Fung and violinist Barry Shiffman, and will be tickling the ivories. The show also features four singers, including soprano Monica Whicher, mezzo Norine Burgess, tenor Benjamin Butterfield and baritone Alexander Dobson.
They’re a page taken right from Coward’s era, as palm court trios were commonplace in hotels during the 1920s.
But it’s the opportunity to share some of the more obscure numbers from Coward’s repertoire that has Greer beaming. He staccatos his respect for the flamboyant man dubbed the Master by his contemporaries, especially after fully enjoying his works during the 1980s.
“I realized he has written really exceptional songs,” Greer admits. “He really wasn’t trained as a composer. He was able to absorb the essence of different theatrical styles. He’s amazingly versatile.”
Coward is known for his songs, “I’ll See You Again” and “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” The play Cavalcade is another one of his popular works.
However, the Mooredale Concert will focus on the more obscure work that Greer feels will trigger nothing but adulation from listeners.
“I’m hoping there will be a lot of lovers of Coward there who don’t get to hear some of the obscure works, which aren’t done by a lot of composers,” Greer admits. “They’re not done as much as some of the musicals by Gershwin or Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin.”
Greer pulled together two dozen songs, no including the medleys which quilts together other rarities. There’s deep excitement in his voice when he confesses he had “scads and scads” of material for another revue
The concert is also a chance to collaborate with some of his old colleagues.
“I must say, I put the same amount of work and attention into presenting Noel Coward as I would with any great composer,” he says. “I believe he deserves to be represented as well as possible to the public.”