Music rarely heard by American audiences will be showcased this spring in the Rogue Valley when Southern Oregon University's International Piano Institute presents a new series of recitals. "We believe in the importance of providing the best music," says Alexander Tutunov, who heads up the piano institute. "One doesn't need to travel to San Francisco or New York City to hear world-class piano performances."

Music rarely heard by American audiences will be showcased this spring in the Rogue Valley when Southern Oregon University's International Piano Institute presents a new series of recitals.

"We believe in the importance of providing the best music," says Alexander Tutunov, who heads up the piano institute. "One doesn't need to travel to San Francisco or New York City to hear world-class piano performances."

The first of three concerts will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 23, in the Music Recital Hall on the SOU campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.Joanna Trzeciak (yanna che-chak), a Polish-born and Belgiam-based pianist, will perform works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin, Karol Szymanowski and Nikolai Miaskovsky.

The program will include Beethoven's Variations in F major, Op. 34; Szymanowski's "Masks;" Chopin's four impromptus; and Miaskovsky's Sonata No. 3, Op. 19.

"This could easily be the first performance of Miaskovsky in the country," Tutunov says. " 'Masks' is a gorgeous piece also, and I don't think it's been performed in the Rogue Valley."

"Masks" is a technically difficult piece and will challenge most audiences, Tutunov says.

"But Joanna finds such personal insights in the music because of her heritage," he says. "And Miaskovsky's music has a highly individual, rhapsodic style, a unique harmonic world that was all his own. After you've heard him, you could recognize any piece he composed.

"Miaskovsky's creative output was huge, yet he is not often heard. I personally have never played anything by him. I will hear Joanna play his sonata for the first time in my life."

Lesser-known music will be the case for the other recitals in the piano institute's new series, Tutunov says.

Luis Meireles and Maria Jose Souza Guedes will perform works by Carl Reineck, Alexandre Delgado and Cesar Franck on April 30, and Nadejda Vlaeva will perform Lowell Liebermann and Hans von Bülow, along with Johann Sebastian Bach, Camille Saint-Saens and Franz Liszt on May 20.

The new recital series is the brainchild of Tutunov and Kristinia Folz, who feel it is a logical addition to the week-long piano institute held each summer on the SOU campus for aspiring pianists of all ages. Each of the musicians will offer a master class before or after their recitals.

A free class with Trzeciak is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday, March 24. All recitals will be held in the SOU Music Recital Hall, and all tickets cost $10, free for students. Tickets and information are available by calling 541-552-6101 or at the box office one hour before performances.