With time spent in the world’s most prestigious musical halls and festivals, Alaska’s Eduard Zilberkant will seem like a giant filling the space at the Soldotna Christ Lutheran Church.
The musician will take over the Soldotna church on Saturday evening for a classical chamber performance with the University of Alaska Fairbanks String Faculty, a trio that consists of violinist Dr. Bryan Emmon Hall, violist Gail Johansen and cellist Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Russian-born Zilberkant is a classically trained pianist and orchestra conductor who currently teaches and performs at University of Alaska Fairbanks, and has toured many of the world’s finest musical establishments, including the National Philharmonic in Warsaw, Poland, the Teatro di San Carlo Opera House in Naples, Italy, and the Volgograd Opera House in Russia.
To another classically trained pianist like Soldotna’s Performing Arts Society leader Maria Allison, Zilberkant’s resume and body of work is something that peninsula concertgoers will not want to miss out on.
“We have several world-class pianists to live in Alaska, and he’s one of them,” she said. “Eduard is really one of the top pianists I’ve heard.”
As music director and conductor of the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra for 15 years and the Arctic Chamber Orchestra, Zilberkant’s reach is very much Alaskan, but his roots from the eastern United States to Europe add international flair to his work. Allison said Zilberkant’s work stands out for its chamber style and piano accompaniment.
“He is really good at that,” she said. “He’s really a sensitive chamber musician, and he’s brought in pianists from all over to Fairbanks.”
Allison said Zilberkant is making another trip down to the peninsula after about “a half dozen” previous trips, but this time will also be making stops at Soldotna Montessori and Sterling Elementary for matinee concerts. Zilberkant will also be treating already scheduled musicians to master classes for strings and piano lessons Saturday morning.
The trio of talent complementing Zilberkant’s work will serve to add layers to the music, Allison said. Fitzpatrick’s reach spans the country, but he is currently the principal cellist of the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra.
Johansen is associate concertmaster for the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and the Arctic Chamber Orchestra, and teaches violin, viola and chamber music at her private studio in Fairbanks.
Hall is also concertmaster of the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and serves as conductor of the Fairbanks Youth Symphony Concert Orchestra. Hall also teaches viola and violin classes at UAF.
So what masterpiece will the audience hear Saturday night? Allison said she expects three works in all — the list includes movements from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Spanish composer Joaquin Turina and Russian artist Anton Arensky.
It sets up for a night that Allison hopes will dazzle the audience.
“The experience I have from the other musicians is simply that I really like them,” she said.
The performance will take place on Saturday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m. at Soldotna Christ Lutheran Church. General admission is $20. $10 for students. Tickets can be purchased in advance at River City Books and Northcountry Fair in Soldotna, or at Already Read Books and Country Liquor in Kenai.