TERAJI: Pianist strikes right chord with eager audiences

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When not teaching piano, Candace Fazzio, far right, is known to

It’s not every day that one sees a piano being wheeled down
Monterey Street, but when music teacher Candace Fazzio gets an
invitation to play, it’s

have piano, will travel.

It’s not every day that one sees a piano being wheeled down Monterey Street, but when music teacher Candace Fazzio gets an invitation to play, it’s “have piano, will travel.”

“With us, it is about the music, and we’re glad to share with any appreciative audience,” she said.

When Fazzio wheeled her piano to Sue’s Coffee Roasting Company at 7501 Monterey St., it was standing room only as more than 50 people squeezed into the small shop to hear Fazzio play.

Fazzio is The Music Academy of Gilroy’s director at 7600 Church St., where she teaches piano to students ranging in age from 3 to 89. Also known for her lyrical playing style, Fazzio is in demand as a performer and an accompanist to other local musicians.

The life of a local artist is rarely easy. “I’ve survived in this business for 36 years. I make a poverty-level income on part-time work. I practice every day,” Fazzio said. “I believe in living within one’s means, and that things should pay for themselves. The arts should be participatory, both for the performer and the listener.”

A pianist specializing in the Pan American repertoire, Fazzio has a mission to acquaint music students and piano teachers with music from our own hemisphere. In performance, she intersperses musical selections with commentary on the composers, their styles and the influences that tie them all together.

She also regularly donates her time for the seniors at Gilroy’s Live Oak Adult Day Services.

“I believe that people are never too old to learn something new,” Fazzio said. She finds many of her students’ mental limitations are self-imposed and that the majority of students learn to overcome other limitations, such as time restrictions or physical limitations including stiff joints or arthritis.

Fazzio hails from Los Gatos, where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from San Jose State University. For 19 years she taught for the Yamaha Music Schools in Saratoga and San Jose before establishing the Music Academy in Gilroy in 1995.  

Beginning with the ragtime era, and moving through the 20th century to present day, Fazzio’s performances reflect a mix of influences, from Canadian, Brazilian and Caribbean music to folk and dance music from Latin America.

Fazzio collaborates in a vocal jazz trio that includes one of her fellow instructors at the Academy, Sandra Marlowe, whose academic and private studies have included voice, piano, opera, acting, jazz and dance. Marlowe has performed with Opera San Jose and spent five years of intensive study with the late Judy Davis, a Warner Bros. Studio coach to talents such as Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand.

Fazzio enjoys collaborating with others, including her daughter Elizabeth, a talented dramatist. Together, they performed a successful Babar puppet show this spring, filling the BookSmart store in Morgan Hill.

“It’s really fun. It’s a different way of working with another person,” Candace said. “We have to figure out where to talk and where to begin the music so that the action fits with the mood of the piece.

“You do your bit,” Fazzio says to Elizabeth. “I’ll do mine. We’ll get together.”

Candace Fazzio’s next performance will be selections from the Great American Songbook in honor of the Fourth of July weekend at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 2 at the Gilroy United Methodist Church, located in front of the Music Academy at 7600 Church St. Sharing the musical program will be Erma Kyriakos. The concert is free but donations are accepted.  

For concert details, call 607-2442.

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