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Memphis Piano Man

John Boatner(Karen Pulfer Focht/The Commercial Appeal photo)

If you’ve ever been to The Peabody, a historic hotel in downtown Memphis featuring the famous march of the Peabody Ducks every day, you might have heard Washington and Lee alumnus John Boatner, Class of 1961, performing on the grand piano. Millburn Noell Jr. (Class of 1951) sent along an article about John that appeared in Tuesday’s Commercial Appeal, noting that John had also performed for the Mid-South Chapter’s 250th anniversary celebration. The article has this great lead: “John Boatner switches from Rachmaninoff to Radiohead on The Peabody’s grand piano as easily as someone changes a radio channel.” And it gets better along the way. The Commercial Appeal piece is in advance of a concert this coming Sunday at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in the Menphis suburb of Cordova where two of John’s own compositions will be featured: “Mass for Unison Voices” and “Easter Cantata for an Unbeliever,” which were composed in 1969. In addition to his gig at The Peabody, John is also the pianist and organist for St. Francis of Assisi, and he tells the Commercial Appeal reporter that his composition are for everyone: “It’s Easter for anybody. Somali sea pirates, atheists — anyone will appreciate this.” If you can’t make it to Memphis, though, you can listen to some of John’s play on his Web site. Here’s a sample, A Brook in Spring:

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