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Black Tie International:
Byron Janis Receives 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award


Byron Janis and Chopin

Byron Janis and Chopin

Byron Janis and Maria Cooper Janis

Byron Janis and Maria Cooper Janis

Byron Janis and Robert Cuccioli

Byron Janis and Robert Cuccioli

Robert Cuccioli and Maria Cooper Janis

Robert Cuccioli and Maria Cooper Janis

Robert Cuccioli and Colleen Fitzpatrick

Robert Cuccioli and Colleen Fitzpatrick

Chuck Scarborough

Chuck Scarborough

Nimrod David Pfeffer and Byron Janis

Nimrod David Pfeffer and Byron Janis

Arlene Dahl and Marc Rosen

Arlene Dahl and Marc Rosen

Sylvia Atkins and Joan Copeland

Sylvia Atkins and Joan Copeland

Lucy Jarvis and Byron Janis

Lucy Jarvis and Byron Janis

Chuck Scarborough and Fiddle Viracola

Chuck Scarborough and Fiddle Viracola

Jane Lahr and Literary Partner Lyn Delli Quadri

Jane Lahr and Literary Partner Lyn Delli Quadri

Betty Bregman, Laila Robbins and Robert Cuccioli

Betty Bregman, Laila Robbins and Robert Cuccioli

Fiddle Viracola, Dr. Myron Arlen, Maris Cooper Janis and Leo Meyer

Fiddle Viracola, Dr. Myron Arlen, Maris Cooper Janis
 and Leo Meyer


The National Arts Club

Lifetime Achievement Award

Byron Janis

Story & Photos by:  Fiddle Viracola


THE NATIONAL ARTS CLUB founded in 1898 is a revered and treasured jewel in the NYC Gramercy Park setting. Its 1840 Tilden Mansion is home to a mighty mission: “to stimulate and promote public interest in the arts. ”Three Presidents were members. Distinguished architects, artists, poets and actors held court and were honored at hosted events. How apt this stellar tradition extends to its 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Byron Janis

Legendary, virtuoso pianist, Byron Janis, considered one of the world’s greatest concert pianists, did not let psoriatic arthritis pain hinder his artistic universal climb. He did the impossible and triumphed against all odds. That journey is inspiring, uplifting and spiritual. Chopin and Beyond: My extraordinary life in music and the paranormal
a book written with his wife Maria Cooper Janis (daughter of Gary Cooper) tells all.

It includes being the first student of Vladimir Horowitz; NBC orchestral debut with Toscanini at 15;  Carnegie Halldebut; U.S. State Department’s Russia cultural exchange; Ronald Reagan’s state dinner at the White House in his honor; invitations  to perform at The White House from various sitting Presidents; the Chopin  eerie connections and soul mate Maria ,etc.

DIANNE BERNHARD, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL ARTS CLUB welcomed the guests after a vast, festive cocktail party with lots of hugs.

She introduced the evenings host CHUCK SCARBOROUGH of NBC NEWS, NEW YORK: winner of 31 Emmy Awards; first inductee into the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame with the longest TV anchor tenure in New York television history. He predicted a surprise ending to the evening’s celebration.

Two distinguished young classical pianists, who are rapidly gaining major recognition, entertained. They were amazing.

INNA FALIKS, pianist

(Chopin’s The Maiden’s Wish, OP 74, and No 1
(arranged by FranzListz)

A “passionately committed, exciting poetic artist” made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at 15. Solo appearances with numerous world orchestras and conductors rapidly escalate.

NIMROD DAVID PFEFFER, Israeli pianist (mid-twenties)

(Chopin Ballade No.2 in G Minor, Op.23)

NY debut Carnegie Hall recital celebrating Israel’s 60th Independence Day and Concert in Honor of Peace; Chopin
at The Metropolitan Opera; and Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, Etc.

Byron Janis is the master passing his torch to the future. Under his tutelage, Nimrod plays what we will never hear in Chopin. Byron taught what Chopin really meant. Byron owns those secrets and gave this gift to him. Listening with eyes shut; hearing Chopin’s glory weave inside, he becomes a silent instrument, playing in his chair. It turn’s Byron’s face into a mask of bliss and knowing. How rare to see a connection from these depths. Oh, how we listen-listen, learn, enjoy and watch.


They sang out “The One World’ (Music, Byron Janis *
Lyrics, Sammy Cahn) with the beautiful Ahmaya Knoelle Higginsen Wydro, passionately leading the choir of teens, ages 13 to 19.

The amazing Vy Higginsen, an ordained Interface Minister heads the Mama Foundation for the Arts in Harlem and created the award winning Gospel for Teens choir recently featured on CBS 60 Minutes. Its aim: present, preserve and promote African -Americans musical history. This is only one of many extraordinary hats she wears


Music Byron Janis   *lyrics Hal Hackaday

Byron sits at the piano. The music of The Hunchback of Notre Dame stirs on the keyboard. Broadway’s acclaimed ROBERT CUCCIOLI and COLLEEN FITZPATRICK become Quasimodo and Esmeralda singing You Are More. My ghosts arrive from the Westbeth production.

Their lofty “what was” twirls; the way we were hopes and dreams of what could be. Enter that loving Hunchback family I was a part of.

In magnetic overlapping waves, they hesitate and falter when Robert Cuccioli’s Quasimodo ballad Like Any Man transports the room to a realm of such beauty, you feel the heart and soul of Byron, in every note he wrote. Miracle! He’s playing those notes tonight. He’s playing again!! The audience gets it. Their bravo’s take on entirely new meaning.

DIANNE BERNHARD presented the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Byron Janis gave humble acceptance remarks then joined Nimrod David Pfeffer at the piano for the surprise ending, Chuck Scarborough predicted: Gershwin’s Prelude NO.1 for four hands. The audience was ecstatic.

No, the surprise ending is finding that we’ve changed after entering The National Arts Club. A part that sleeps, with our eyes open, has re-awakened. We touched what’s authentic. It was honored tonight. We’re deeply centered by knowing that courage, passion, perseverance and artistry of Byron Janis still exist. This icon hero keeps filling the cup to the brim.

As National Ambassador for the Arts for the Arthritis Foundation, and consultant for Yamaha’s Wellness Institute; the composer, educator and humanitarian is embarking on a new life phase by  bringing awareness to
the healing power of music and its spiritual importance…worldwide.

What a stunning WOW in this day and age.

P.S. The Yamaha Artists Services New York generously provided the Yamaha piano that glistened under the spotlight.


joyce brooks.  photo by:  rose billings

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