NEPA Scene Staff

‘All Beginnings Are Hard’ for Zach Sprowls as pianist makes Scranton Fringe Fest debut Sept. 29-Oct. 1

‘All Beginnings Are Hard’ for Zach Sprowls as pianist makes Scranton Fringe Fest debut Sept. 29-Oct. 1
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From a press release:

The piano is Zach Sprowls’ voice. With it, he composes stories that are as much everyone’s as they are his own – affecting and true to life.

Once rootless, he now proudly calls Scranton home. The full-time composer and pianist has come to identify with the relentless heart of the city, with its long history of struggle and pushing for better days ahead.

Sprowls came to the city feeling broken but found healing in music while there. His first solo release under his name in 2022 reflects that. The song “All Beginnings Are Hard” is built around a piano part he recorded in his apartment. The aching strings, recorded at Cue Recording Studios outside Washington, D.C., underpin that vulnerable core like a testament to his personal hope for the future. He followed this up with “I Thought I Knew” and “Shiver” this year.

With a musical gift that is as rare as it is disciplined, Sprowls is eager to release and perform his neoclassical compositions. Variously compared to Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, and Max Richter, his pieces weave the piano, strings, synthesizers, and electronic sounds into crystalline soundscapes that tell real human stories about the ups and downs of growing up.

He is ready to share his voice at the Scranton Fringe Festival with the world premiere of his new show, also titled “All Beginnings Are Hard.” Featuring the piano and a live string trio, he will use elements of neoclassical minimalism, melody, and aching harmony to tell the story of what it’s like to start over and translate his own life experiences into a deeply-felt journey for listeners.

Performances will be held in the Junior Ballroom of the Scranton Cultural Center (420 N. Washington Ave., Scranton) on Friday, Sept. 29 at 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. The show is all ages and runs approximately 60 minutes. Tickets are $15 and can be reserved online at or purchased at the door.

“‘Alive’ is the word that comes to mind when listening to ‘All Beginnings Are Hard.’ The song moves and breathes in a way that always stops the listener in their tracks. It always feels wrong to passively listen to this song. Every time I play the track, I close my eyes and let my mind spin. Sad music is easy to write. Somber music that moves you is another matter entirely,” raved filmmaker Aaron Huie.

Kathy Parsons of Mainly Piano called it “an extremely promising debut, and I can’t wait to hear more.” HNR Radio described the track as “natural, classical, soothing, and touchable,” and author Shannon Harris shared that “halfway through this song the first time, I burst into tears.”

In addition to his own music, Sprowls composes for theatre and film and performs in various genres both in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Washington, D.C. region. His music has been featured on the highly-acclaimed Seattle radio station KEXP 90.3 FM and been performed by members of the U.S. Army Strings and the National Symphony Orchestra.

A celebration of creativity, culture, and community, Scranton Fringe is an award-winning arts organization producing innovative work since 2015, dedicated to creating a bold, engaging platform for thought-provoking art while striving to promote Northeast Pennsylvania as a viable creative environment. Inspired by the world’s largest annual event, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this nonprofit has grown into a year-round incubator of unique creative work centered around the performing arts.

The annual Scranton Fringe Festival is a diverse mix of theatre, music, visual arts, and more. With events spanning across six venues this year – such as the Scranton Cultural Center, AfA Gallery, Lackawanna College, and the Lackawanna County Children’s Library – there is something for everyone to enjoy.

“We’re incredibly excited to launch the program for our ninth Fringe Festival,” said Conor Kelly O’Brien, Scranton Fringe co-founder and executive director.

“We have such a unique lineup featuring regional and touring work, including world premiere theatrical productions, experimental performances fusing ecology with innovative technology, world-class music, and much more.”