Above: Tom Roberts and Susanne Ortner-Roberts in their Central Northside home. (Photo by Ricardo Robinson).
Central Northsiders, Tom Roberts and Susanne Ortner-Roberts, are world renowned musicians who have played across the country and around the globe, but this weekend they’ll be playing in their own backyard as a way to thank their neighbors for, well, being good neighbors.
Susanne is a German-born clarinetist, and Tom is a Pittsburgh native pianist, and together the couple lives in the Central Northside and form the Ortner-Roberts duo.
On Saturday night, they will host an outdoors, block-party style performance on Resaca Place to thank their neighbors for some recent help the two received.
In February, Roberts suffered a bad knee injury and was unable to walk or even live in his own home for three months.
Through that time, their central Northside neighbors brought them food, walked their dog and opened up their homes to the pair.
“We just wanted to give something back to the community after they helped us so much,” said Roberts. “This is what makes us such a great community.”
The music of the Ortner-Roberts Duo envelopes swing, calypso, Harlem stride piano, early jazz, klezmer, gypsy, tango, rembetika and valse musette, which makes their tagline “Hot World Chamber Music” an accurate and concise way to describe their unique style.
For their performance this weekend, they will add a visual element to their music as well.
In May, Roberts was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony to write two original scores for the 1916 Charlie Chaplin silent movies “One a.m.” and “In the Rink.”
With the help of the Allegheny City Society, who contributed a screen, the Ortner-Roberts Duo will recreate this performance by playing their original music to the Chaplin films that will be projected onto the screens
Saturday will only be the second time the piece will be performed.
“It should be a really great night,” said Roberts, who said that the event is for the whole Northside and that all are welcome.