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Mr. MIDI, Mouse Ears, and a Disklavier

Posted by on in The Disklavier Frontier
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For those of you who don't know me: I grew up at Walt Disney World. Literally.

While most families took annual or even bi-annual trips to the resort, my family moved there when I was 9. I can sing every long-forgotten attraction song (even the ones played in the queues), tell you who arranged and orchestrated every firework show, and have grown to become friends and colleagues with my heros of that musical legacy. 

For four months in the summer of 1995, my favorite attraction at Walt Disney World wasn't a ride, or a show, or even The Voices of Liberty. It was a little corner of EPCOT's Innoventions, a Disney-fied technological inventions museum celebrating the impending millenium change, called Mr. MIDI. Probably only coincidentally based on Simon Lehmayr's open source project, Mr. MIDI was a little stage area where a young tech-saavy musician demonstrated the promise of MIDI on several keyboards and even a MIDI Talk Box. Around the corner was an area where different manufacturers had installed their latest and greatest and where I would encounter the first accoustic piano that you could switch into "silent mode" by engaging and locking the middle pedal. The MX-100A was already seven years on the market at that point, but it was brand new to me, the coolest thing that I'd ever seen, and was entranced; while my mom would venture over to ABC's area (where you could see your "Stories" before they were aired), I sat for hours playing on a REAL piano that only I could hear. (A mid-afternoon air-conditioned repreive from the Central Florida sun is a must.)

Years later, the silent feature is only the tip of the iceberg of the Disklavier features I use. Over the next couple of months I'll be profiling other features, tips, tools, and tricks that have allowed me to turn my DC7APro into one of the strongest studio/stage tools to be found. I hope you'll come back and check them out.

Jonathan Tessero is an award-nominated Creative Director, Music Director and Live Event Producer whose work has appeared on Broadway, Network Television, and in concert and event venues around the country.
His creative direction for CBS’ coverage of Super Bowl XLVII earned the network a Sports Emmy Nomination for Best Art Direction / Studio Design and under his creative leadership the rebooted and renamed Essence Fest experienced a record-setting 125,000 person increase in attendance to total more than 550,000 attendees for the Beyonce, Janelle Monae, Maxwell, LL Cool J headlined weekend. He directed the media assets for the Opening Season Presentation of an NBA team, lead the creation of a branded 12-story projection map installation, created the Christmas experience for a 10-acre casino, and wrote and directed a documentary starring Angela Lansbury and Branford Marsalis for the National WWII Museum.

He made his Broadway debut as a pianist and conductor at age 18 and has since grown into an in-demand pianist, arranger/orchestrator, and conductor who has conducted, music directed, and played for Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Touring Theater Productions, Symphonic Pops Presentations, and major Corporate Events around the country. He is a Yamaha Artist, was a finalist to succeed the late Marvin Hamlisch as Principal Pops Conductor of The Buffalo Philharmonic, and Music Supervised and Arranged SeaWorld’s Sea of Surprises Segment for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In 2001, he was the Music Director of the Lower Manhattan 9/11 Memorial Mass and, in 2011 he Music Supervised the ceremonial relighting of the Superdome following its post-Hurricane Katrina reconstruction.

He was the Associate Producer of the critically acclaimed Broadway transfer of The Lyons, the Producer of Broadway Sings the Phone, an all-star benefit for Make-A-Wish of Metro New York at the legendary Studio 54, and has managed and produced more than a slew of theater, live entertainment, and corporate event ventures for companies like Coca-Cola, Ford, Time, Inc., McDonald’s, Entergy.

Jonathan Tessero proudly plays Yamaha Pianos.