NOT SO SIMPLE SIMON

When I was a piano major at Indiana University, the piano faculty was one big celebrity roster, which included Jorge Bolet, Menahem Pressler, Gyorgy Sebok and, of course, Abbey Simon . The latter was an imposing presence despite his diminutive size, but he was a congenial man and a great teacher. Well, that was more than 40 years ago. You'd expect them all to be dead, and Bolet and Sebok are. But Pressler, who was a founding member of the Beaux Arts Trio, and Simon are both going strong at 87, bless their hearts, and this weekend, Simon -- famed for his way with the romantic piano repertoire -- performs a program that would be demanding at any age: the complete Chopin Preludes, Op. 28, and Schumann's Kreisleriana. In a recent interview, Simon remarked, "I think I'm one of the luckiest people in the world, because I knew from the moment I was conscious that all that interested me was the piano, and that I was going to be a pianist. And so long as I can crawl out on the stage and make it to the bench, I'll be happy." Fortunately, Simon isn't crawling, yet -- he's still as young and vigorous as I remember him. And the only thing that could be better than getting the rare chance to hear this living legend is hearing him for free, which you can do this Sunday courtesy of Sundays Live. LACMA, Bing Theater, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Sun., March 21, 6 p.m.; free. (323) 857-6234, sundayslive.org . --Mary Beth Crain
Sun., March 21, 6 p.m., 2010