Posted: May 6, 2013 12:33 PM by Chet Layman
Updated: May 6, 2013 12:53 PM
ENNIS - They say each one of us is born with a talent, something that sets us apart from everyone else. For Dan Immel, who grew up in Ennis and now teaches in Pennsylvania, his talent is something he has shared with the world for more than two decades.
His latest Bozeman performance featured the music of Jongenm Beethoven, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev. However, the performance was all Immel, a1991 Ennis High School graduate.
His music started when he was 10. Immel says he cried after his first lesson. He really wanted to play basketball, but about four lessons in, as his sister was practicing a piece ahead of him, something changed.
"A song called ‘Swinging Along,' and she couldn't get it to save her life, and I remember I walked over and said, ‘No, it goes like this,' and I played it and I got grounded. I'll never forget that because my dad got so mad at me and my mom said, ‘Maybe he's got talent for it.' I didn't take it seriously until I was 15 and then something clicked and I never looked back," Immel remembers.
What clicked carried Dan, now Dr. Immel, from Boise State through Indian University, the University of Texas-Austin and to a conservatory in France. His high school lessons were at MSU and those carried him to the Big Apple, twice.
Dan says playing Carnegie Hall is unlike anything he could have dreamed of as a boy in Ennis, Montana.
"Probably one of the most emotional things I've ever been through, because, you know, 15 and Ennis High School, it's a gym and it's an upright piano and it's not very good and you fight for years and you hope. I hoped one time in my life I'd get to play there now that I've done it twice. I just played there in February. You know, you realize, I think I've achieved something with this."
That talent has a downside with hours of practice becoming the social life. Dan refers to the piano as his primary relationship, explaining that is why he's still single at age 40.
Dan also counts on the piano as he would a friend too.
"It's a form of expression. You know I don't want to sound like Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire that it completes me but it really does. If things get bad or I'm sad or whatever I'm going through in my life, I always come back to this. For peace or perspective and I always get it," he said.
Each piece Dan plays from memory is researched. He learns what made the music - pain, anger, love. Dan notes that makes his performance difficult. For many audience members, he may be the only exposure to the composers He also says that's the best part of his work. His talent has taken him far from Big Sky country, but he always plays for anyone who'll listen whenever he returns.
Dan will hold another performance this Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.at Saint John's Lutheran Church in Helena.