By Jenny Neyman
Pianist Patricia Hoy and cellist Alexander Suleiman may be left breathless after their chamber music performance of some demanding works in Soldotna on Friday, but at least it won’t be an unusual state for these busy musicians.
Between university teaching positions, performances, rehearsals, being the artistic directors of a chamber music festival and their many other musical endeavors, these two are used to life in a whirlwind.
Hoy, who lives in Vancouver, B.C., is a faculty member at the University of British Columbia, Banff Centre for the Performing Arts and the Young Artists Experience, a summer chamber music program. She has been a soloist with the Montreal Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Quebec Chamber Orchestra, CBC Radio Orchestra and the Ventura Symphony and been a featured pianist on CBC, PBS and WQXR.
Alexander Suleiman, born in Germany, now living in California, is a professor at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, and performs all over the world. In 2009 he was asked to be the director of the Arts Academy in the state of Bremen, in Germany, designed to train promising artists from developing countries.
They met two years ago through a mutual, musical friend, and found their musical sensibilities to be similar. So they started playing together, one or the other traveling to Vancouver or Los Angeles, on occasion, to rehearse. They also are artistic directors of the CoralWind Chamber Music Festival in Ucluelet, B.C.
For the Soldotna concert, put on by the Performing Arts Society, Suleiman will be returning from an orchestra performance overseas to Los Angeles for a few days before meeting Hoy in Alaska.
“He said, ‘When we get to Alaska, you’re going to be doing all the driving, because I’m going to be tired,’” Hoy said. “It’s a pretty whirlwind trip for us, this concert, then we have to get back to teaching — our respective day jobs, so to speak.”
Hoy has performed in Soldotna once before, and the Performing Arts Society wanted to bring her back. She was happy to oblige.
“It’s always nice to have visiting artists. I think you get a different perspective on music,” Hoy said. “Everyone approaches it from a different angle, so there’s always something to learn. We’re both from different backgrounds and bring something different to music. You can definitely hear it when we play.”
Hoy and Suleiman will perform at area schools while here, and Suleiman will give a master class on the cello to peninsula musicians on Saturday. For their performance Friday, they are planning a repertoire that has probably not been heard locally before. Not because the pieces aren’t worthy of the attention, but because they are demanding to perform.
“They are not obscure, but they are really grand works for both instruments and take a tremendous amount of energy to perform and to play in an audience setting,” Hoy said. “But it’s the spontaneity of it which is the most exciting for an artist. I think that type of excitement will be transmitted to audience members. Every time we play we just enjoy it so much, and I think everyone will enjoy it.”
Beethoven’s “Sonata in A Major” for cello and piano is probably the most widely known piece they will be performing, Hoy said.
“It’s a wonderful work. It’s actually very equally weighted for cello and piano. It’s one of his more virtuosic sonatas,” Hoy said.
Next will be Schumann’s “Fantasy” piece, which was originally written for piano and clarinet, but was transcribed for cello by Schumann himself. After intermission will be Rachmaninov’s “Sonata in G Major,” the only one he ever wrote for both instruments.
“It’s considered to be a tour de force for both instruments,” Hoy said. “Rachmaninov wrote mostly for the piano, and for the cello much less so. This work for cello is probably as technically difficult as many of his piano concertos.”
The concert finale will be a tango by Astor Piazzolla.
“It’s a fantastic, energetic work that is a real crowd pleaser, that is how we plan to end the concert. It’s a very well-rounded concert with something in it for everyone. I really think everyone will enjoy it,” Hoy said.
Their schedule may be hectic and the pieces demanding, but they’re also so much fun to play that they can’t help but be energized, Hoy said. Especially when there’s an audience that enjoys the works, too.
“I’m really looking forward to coming to Soldotna. The audience is incredibly receptive and they obviously enjoy classical music a great deal,” Hoy said.
Hoy and Suleiman will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students. Advance tickets are available at River City Books, NorthCountry Fair and Sweeney’s Clothing in Soldotna, and Already Read Books and Country Liquor in Kenai.