A violinist, a pianist and an actor

Violinist Linda Rosenthal, based in Juneau, has performed all over the state as well as in Europe and Asia. However, she said there is something special about returning to play on the central Kenai Peninsula.

“The audience itself is just so warm,” she said. “You can just feel that they’re with you, from the first note, even before the first note.”

Rosenthal will perform with pianist Richard Dowling at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Soldotna Christ Lutheran Church in the Performing Arts Society’s latest concert.

Rosenthal is the founder of Juneau Jazz and Classics, a music festival in Juneau. She also created the part-music, part-acting “Strings and Stories” for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C in 1995.

She and actor Bill Blush will put on a performance of the show for about 500 elementary school students Friday at Kenai Central High School, said Performing Arts Society President Barb Christian. The president added that the show meshes with a big part of the society’s mission, which is education and exposing children to music.

“That is our second and equal part of our mission,” she said. “So few kids come to concerts or are taken to concerts. … In order to introduce them to … fun aspects of music we always ask our guests, our performers to do something in a school.”

Rosenthal enjoys putting on “Strings and Stories” because no two performances will ever be the same, she said. While the stories don’t change, the kids do, which makes for a unique experience each time, she said.

“You never know what’s going to when, you know, you get kids up onstage, and it’s just amazing how they shine,” Rosenthal said. “(Blush) seems to bring out the best in them, and they just add tremendously to the show.”

Rosenthal said she generally performs either the children’s show or a recital, and so she was thrilled when the Performing Arts Society suggested both in the same weekend.

She also enjoys returning to the area in order to see longtime friends, like the society’s Maria Allison. The church’s intimate setting, where her audience is mere feet away, and great acoustics are yet more reasons Rosenthal likes performing here, she said.

The close physical connection with the audience fosters a better overall connection with them throughout the concert, Rosenthal said.

“I’ve always felt that they’re … giving it their all as the audience,” she said. “They’re all ears, they’re all enthusiasm, they’re all attention, they’re coming to have a good time.”

Rosenthal said she particularly expects the audience to enjoy the musical stylings of Dowling, a Texas native who has also performed around the world. His affinity for ragtime will be featured during a Scott Joplin piece, and he will also perform a solo arrangement of the “Warsaw Concerto” by Richard Addinsell.

“Richard wears the ragtime hat,” Rosenthal said. “The audience I think — they’re in for a real treat hearing him wear his other hat.”

Tickets for the Saturday concert are $10 for students and $20 for regular admission. All funds raised go to support the Performing Arts Society.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com

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