Pianist and composer Roberta Piket ’83 and her sextet performed a tribute concert honoring celebrated jazz pianist and NPR radio host Marian McPartland in December 2019. The show, held at Flushing Town Hall, was a return to the borough for the musician who was born in Queens to a musical family. Her father, from Austria, was a composer and her mother was a singer of standards in the Great American Songbook. Piket was trained in piano by her father from age seven until his death when she was eight years old. Her mother continued with her daughter’s musical instruction, where she learned to play the tunes of Gershwin, Porter, and Rodgers by ear. In her teenage years, she began learning jazz.
As Piket evolved as a performer, she crossed paths with McPartland while performing as a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Composers Competition. McPartland invited Piket as a guest on her program, Piano Jazz, and the two formed a close friendship. She considered McPartland, who passed away in 2013, as an important mentor. For the tribute concert Piket and her sextet played a set of tunes composed by McPartland.