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Tutunov Piano Series’ 10th season opening with Beethoven, Prokofiev

Pianist Alexander Tutunov and violinist Fritz Gearhart will open the Tutunov Piano Series Friday night, Oct. 15, with a live performance and simultaneous livestream of music by Beethoven and Prokofiev. Photo by Kim Budd / courtesy OCA at SOU

The Tutunov Piano Series opens its 10th anniversary season with a performance Friday,

Oct. 15, featuring violinist Fritz Gearhart and pianist Alexander Tutunov. They’ll perform two sonatas by Beethoven and Prokofiev’s “Five Melodies for Violin and Piano.”

The concert will be performed live to a limited audience at 7:30 p.m. at the Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall, 450 S. Mountain Ave., Ashland, and simultaneously streamed over the Oregon Center for the Arts YouTube channel.

Gearhart is professor of violin at the University of Oregon and performs internationally, having appeared at Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and around the world. His recordings are heard frequently on NPR.

Tutunov, professor of piano and artist in residence at SOU, is widely recognized as one of the outstanding virtuosos of the former Soviet Union, winner of both the Belarusian National Piano Competition and the Russian National Piano Competition.

Tutunov and Gearhart collaborated decades ago. During their evolution as musicians, they have gained an extensive understanding of Beethoven’s life, music, and the depths of his genius.

“They will challenge listeners,” said OCA public relations officer Kim Andresen, “to try to hear something different in the interpretations performed during their concert, and to feel Beethoven’s optimism, rebelliousness, and sheer brilliance.”

Appearing originally as a work for voice and piano, Prokofiev’s “Five Melodies Op. 35b” was composed in Paris in 1925 during his self-imposed exile from Russia.

“The ‘Five Melodies’ are little miniatures of intense lyricism and lively character,” wrote Stella Di Virgilio in her blog, A Parisian Music Salon. “The version for violin proved much more popular than the original. Prokofiev’s musical ideas seem to come across more vividly.”

Tutunov said he is pleased to launch his 10th season with a live performance.

“We all are in need of some rejuvenation and inspiration, given the past 18 months,” he said. “Music has something that just makes people feel better.”

Tutunov hopes audience members will take a moment to resonate with their own emotions as they listen to the music.

The Tutunov Piano Series was launched in March of 2009 and gained momentum as an annual series by the fall of 2011.

The series has brought world-renowned piano and instrumental artists to the Rogue Valley. Among them are Alon Goldstein, Garick Ohlsson, Lovro Pogorelich, Alexander Ghindin, Joseph Banowetz, Marco Schiavo, Peter Serkin, Lise de la Salle, Valery Kuleshov, and many others.

“You can measure music by the number of people who leave the concert inspired,” Tutunov said. “And that’s where I see my mission.”

Reserved seat tickets at $25 each can be purchased by calling the box office at 541-552-6348 or by visiting the OCA box office Monday through Friday, 3 to 6 p.m., on the SOU campus.

Masks are required and attendees must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test at the door.

The livestream link will be emailed the day of the concert and is $20 per household.

For more information on the series and other OCA events, go to oca.sou.edu.