Meet Richmond Hill’s piano man

By Allison Plitt

By all appearances Richmond Hill resident Bill Gati is a mild-mannered architect, but there is another side to him that comes alive as a musical impresario – playing piano and saxophone and singing.

Gati’s two professions are in his blood.

Gati comes from a family of musicians. His grandmother played piano, his father played piano and violin, his brother plays violin, and his grandfather was an architect in Hungary.

Born in Brazil, Gati moved with his family to the United States as a young child to correct a stigmatism in his eye. He began playing the piano at age 5 and was accepted into the prestigious Juilliard School for Music at age 8.

Although he attended the City College of New York to study architecture, he has continued to perform as a musician as a way to express himself through his art and because music is his passion.

About 20 years ago he learned to play saxophone through private lessons.

He has become so skilled as a saxophonist that he has been able to add the instrument to his repertoire of musical talents as well as being a vocalist. Gati’s newest CD, “Piano Expressions,” is available for download on iTunes and Amazon.

Through a Facebook presence of thousands of friends as well as from testimonies of those who have seen Gati perform, the musician has been able to keep a busy schedule of shows throughout the Queens area. While he does give solo concerts, he also plays in ensembles with other musicians and vocalists.

“I’m inspired by making my listeners happy and seeing smiles on their faces,” Gati said. “Music is one of the most direct art forms that transcend all language barriers. Most people have their favorite songs and I enjoy performing requests at most of my concerts.”

This month Gati will be performing a piano concert series of mostly Broadway showtunes at several public libraries in Queens: Rego Park on Sept. 21, Glen Oaks on Sept. 25 and Middle Village on Sept. 28.

He will continue his string of concerts with a performance Oct. 17 at the Forest Hills Library.

“I would like to reach a wider audience and make my music available to more listeners. I hope to produce a CD with music from the 1920s and ’30s performed with contemporary styles and instrumentation,” Gati said. “I would like to use public domain songs that are just starting to become available. This is one of my favorite eras musically.”

Gati concedes he is also inspired by this era architecturally.

“My original piano compositions were in the style of the 1920s and 1930s-era jazz, which I feel is the height of American music. I compare the music of that period to my two favorite buildings – the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building —which were designed in the art deco architectural style popular in the United States at that time.”

Gati also offers advice to aspiring performers.

“I would like to encourage young musicians to find their voice and express themselves in a positive way. There needs to be more music and lyrics that reflect the positives in life,” Gati said. “I enjoy the music from the 1920s and 30s because they were very upbeat and happy. I hope new artists can draw from their great experiences and express that in their work.”

For more information about Gati’s music and performance schedule, visit his website at www.apianoman.com.

If You Go

Bill Gati

When: Sept. 21, Sept. 25, Sept. 28, at 2 pm; and Oct. 17, at 2:30 pm

Where: Sept. 21 — Rego Park Library, Sept. 25 — Glen Oaks Library, Sept. 28 — Middle Village Library, Oct. 17 — Forest Hills Library

Cost: Free

Website: www.apianoman.com

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