Pianist Elizabeth Joy Roe considers herself an equal-opportunity player when it comes to classical music.
"I believe in cultivating new audiences," Roe said in a recent phone interview from Smith College in Northampton, Mass., where she is a guest lecturer and artist. "It is important as a performer to present one's music in a way which allows people in."
For Roe, an up-and-coming, Juilliard-trained pianist who will perform in the Old Pueblo this weekend, that means expanding beyond the concert hall and the realm of Bach, Brahms and Beethoven.
Roe, 29, recently played in a series of concerts in South Carolina, which included hall shows, but also bar, lounge, school and retirement-home performances.
Together with her duo partner, Greg Anderson, Roe has reworked pop hits into piano pieces, including Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" and Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean."
In 2006, Roe and Anderson created a "Star Wars" tribute, featuring score work from the films, including the "Force Theme" and "March of the Ewoks," adapted for two pianos.
"The most fun we had with that was in the planning process," Roe said. "We spent three straight days watching all six films. We took notes and really observed the different musical themes that ran through the series."
Despite her experimental nature, Roe has dedicated most of her young career to the classics, performing iconic pieces at venues from New York City to Paris to Seoul, South Korea."
This weekend, she will set her sights on the TSO's "Schumann Romance" MasterWorks program, dedicated to German composer Robert Schumann and his wife, pianist Clara Schumann.
Robert Schumann's Overture, Scherzo & Finale, Op. 52 will be sandwiched in between Roe opening the concert with Clara Schumann's Piano Trio in G minor and closing with Robert Schumann's Concerto in A minor, for Piano & Orchestra, Op. 54.
Roe performed Schumann's Concerto in A minor for the first time with the Smith College Orchestra in November, but she says she grew up loving the piece, which debuted in 1846 and is Robert Schumann's only completed full-scale piano concerto.
"It is one of those ultimate piano concertos," she said. "It is the perfect manifestation of those kinds of romantic ideals.
"Schumann was such a genius in terms of his ability to really transfer the immediacy and the mercurial quality of human emotion. This concerto attests to that."
Roe considers Clara Schumann one of "the most legendary concert pianists ever," and is equally pleased with her 11-minute trio piece. For this particular work, she will be joined by the TSO's Aaron Boyd on violin and Xiao-Dan Zheng on cello.
"This trio is so gorgeous," Roe said. "There are so many moments of surprise, and such a distinct voice that (Clara) has. It isn't played that much. I think it is kind of an unknown gem in the repertoire."
Roe says that whether she is playing in a bar, a hall or a retirement home, the ultimate goal is the same.
"I want to not only connect with the music and with my fellow musicians, but also really communicate with the audience and bring them into the musical experience," she said.
If you go
Tucson Symphony Orchestra presents "Schumann Romance," featuring pianist Elizabeth Joy Roe.
• When: 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday .
• Where: Catalina Foothills High School, 4300 E. Sunrise Drive.
• Tickets: $30-$40 through the Tucson Symphony box office, 882-8585 or at tucsonsymphony.org
Clara Schumann - Piano Trio in G minor.
Robert Schumann - Overture, Scherzo & Finale, Op. 52.
Robert Schumann - Concerto in A minor, for Piano & Orchestra, Op. 54.
• Et cetera: Roe will give an additional performance at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 7650 N. Paseo del Norte, at 8 tonight, with a lecture on the Schumanns at 7. Tickets are $33-$43. More information can be found at saaca.org
Gerald M. Gay, a former Star reporter, is a Tucson-based freelance writer.