SHERIDAN — This Friday, renowned 16-year-old pianist Tanner Jorden will play in Sheridan at the First Baptist Church.
Jorden has won numerous awards since he began his career as a musician at age seven. Last year, Jorden performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City, for which he was given the Judge’s Distinction Award and later this month, Jorden will compete in the national Music Teachers Association.
Sheridan resident Ron Krikac, a retired Sheridan College communications professor, worked with the Sheridan Arts Council to organize Jorden’s recital at the First Baptist Church.
“The first Baptist Church has a really great piano, and they’ve been great about sharing it with the community,” Krikac said. “So that’s why we chose that space to do the recital.”
Krikac’s relationship with Jorden started many years back, and he has played a unique role in the young pianist’s career.
Krikac said he played piano as a child, but never pursued it seriously. After he retired from teaching at Sheridan College, Krikac returned to playing piano with a vengeance. He began taking lessons and practiced for three hours a day. The rigor of that schedule began to take its toll, however. He began to develop pain in his hands and had to drastically scale back his playing. The pain became so severe that Krikac said he hasn’t touched a piano in nine months.
But that did not deter him from pursuing his passion. He began collecting pianos and helping other pianists find pianos that suited them; Krikac said he has nine pianos in his collection, but only three of them are stored in his home.
He also turned his home into an intimate concert hall. Since 2011, Krikac said he’s hosted about 15 piano concerts in his home with pianists that have traveled through Sheridan, including award-winning pianist Daniel Hsu. Every show has sold out.
“I’m fortunate that I have an old house, and it’s very open, so even with three grand pianos in there I can get about 60 people,” Krikac said.
Krikac reached out to Jorden and his family through Jorden’s piano teacher after reading about him in the Billings Gazette and invited them to Sheridan to play a concert. While visiting, Jorden played one of Krikac’s Steinway pianos and clicked with it. Krikac set out to find a Steinway for Jorden. He found one for sale by a concert pianist on Ebay in Long Island, New York.
Before Krikac reached out, Jorden had been playing a Korean-made Kawai piano. However, Jorden’s teacher told him the model he was using was limiting his playing.
“The quality of the instrument is really important,” Krikac said. “And he just couldn’t get out of that piano the sound that he needed to get — no matter how hard he worked, the piano was incapable of producing that sound and that subtly and that nuance that really good pianists need to get out of a piano.”
Jorden had previously traveled to Portland, Oregon, and looked at hundreds of pianos, but couldn’t find one that spoke to him. When Krikac suggested Jorden and his father go to New York to look at another piano, they were initially hesitant.
“His dad said, ‘We went all the way to Portland and looked at one hundred pianos, why would we go to New York to look at one?” Krikac said. “And I said, ‘Because I think he’ll like it.’”
It turned out Krikac was right. And Krikac contributed to purchasing the piano for Jorden.
Since then, he’s kept in touch with Jorden and followed his career closely. When Jorden visits Sheridan this weekend, Krikac said residents will be in for a rare treat.
“He’s only 16, and he’s going to be one of the great ones, I think,” Krikac said. “Who can predict these things but where he is right now and the competitions that he’s winning — he’s on a trajectory to really go somewhere.”