What pianist George Winston performs Sunday at Auburn Public Theater may seem a little mixed up. But it makes sense to him.
When Winston first performed at the downtown theater in September 2015, he presented his "Winter Show." It includes ballads and other minor-key works from Winston's career, which spans 14 studio albums that have sold more than 15 million copies since 1972. The show also includes Winston's covers of Vince Guaraldi's "Peanuts" compositions, such as his "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" themes.
Thanksgiving may be within a week of Winston's return to Auburn Public Theater, but the Guaraldi song may not figure into his concert there. That's because Winston will instead present his more uptempo "Summer Show." The pianist keeps records of what show he presented the last time he was at a venue, he said, and in the interest of the audience, he performs the other one next time.
"To me, it's important to alternate," he said. "I'm to the point where I could play either show any time of the year. I could play the winter show in July without going, 'I hate this.'"
The concert may also include songs from Winston's latest studio album, March's "Spring Carousel." It consists of 15 solo compositions he wrote while recovering from a bone marrow transplant for myelodysplastic syndrome at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California, in 2012. He first went to the emergency room immediately after a show in Sand Point, Idaho.
Winston is also donating sales of "Spring Carousel" to cancer research at the hospital. He wrote its songs on the hospital in the piano's auditorium, where he spent almost every night at City of Hope.
"Without both their treatment and their piano, it wouldn't have happened," he said.
The name of the album refers to the circular and repetition of its compositions, Winston said, which capture the regenerative nature of springtime. The 15 songs fall into one of three types: carousels, bouquets (ballads) and Ms. Mysteries (uptempo). The album will be for sale at the concert, and as always, Winston will also collect food for a local pantry, in this case Auburn's Calvary.
Winston said he's happy to return to the Finger Lakes area in the fall. Though he anticipates confusion over playing a "Summer Show" in November, he's also keeping his audience in mind, he said.
"I'm there because of the audience," he said. "They're there because of me, but I think I'm there because of them."