Internationally renowned pianist to play in Soldotna

At first blush, it’s a tad unbelievable that a pianist of international renown will be playing Soldotna Christ Lutheran Church on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with the cost for entrance at just $20, or $10 for students.

But talk to Teresa Walters, who has played on six continents and most of the 50 states to glowing reviews, and her Saturday appearance starts to make sense.

“My impression flying into Anchorage is the scenery just took my breath away,” said Walters, who made her first flight to Alaska on Wednesday. “I saw the diversity, the beauty of the landscape, the mountains, the lakes, the panorama.

“It’s spectacular. It’s everything you always hear about and read about.”

Alaska’s beauty also fits perfectly with Walters’ program, titled “Celebrating Our World.”

“It’s a focus on what we all have in common as human beings, how the music of the great composers belongs to all of us,” she said. “It’s something that unites every historical period beyond politics and religions. It unites the human condition.

“The focus in this day and age can be on what divides us, but there is so much more we have in common.”

Walters believes the power of music should not be limited to all of the great concert halls she has played in cities such as New York, London, Paris, Moscow and Jerusalem.

She said she has private donors and each year she sets goals. Alaska has been on her radar for a few years. She was able to fit in shows in Kenai and Anchorage into a tour of the Pacific Northwest.

The concert is being presented by the Performing Arts Society, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization started in 1999 and dedicated to bringing classical music and jazz concerts to the central Kenai Peninsula for an affordable price.

“For someone of her talent to come here, it’s a tremendous stroke of luck and a tremendous windfall,” said Barb Christian, president of the Performing Arts Society board. “We hope people respond and can come to the concert.”

Walters will play five pieces.

She said Chaconne in D Minor, written by Johann Sebastian Bach and transcribed for piano by Ferruccio Busoni, starts the show because Bach’s music is on the Voyager Golden Record that has been traveling into space on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft for over 40 years.

The Hymn of Morning by Franz Liszt carries special meaning for Walters.

“In the world, it’s always morning somewhere, and with all my travels and jet lag I can tell you that firsthand,” Walters said. “People everywhere share hope that every new day is a better day.”

Crusader’s March from The Legend of St. Elizabeth by Liszt is an easy fit because it talks about the beauty of nature worldwide.

The Maiden and the Nightingale by Enrique Granados is special to Walters because of her love of birds and wildlife. She hopes to see some of Alaska’s famous wildlife while here.

Finally, Prelude to the Canticle of the Sun by Liszt references the Canticle of the Sun by St. Francis of Assisi, which praises things like Brother Sun and Sister Moon. Walters said these things unite every time and place through the centuries.

“I’m happy to have the opportunity to play it here because this is certainly one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and I’ve seen a lot of the Earth,” Walters said.

One of the hallmarks of the Performing Arts Society is also getting performers into the schools, so Walters will present a program at Kenai Middle School on Monday morning.

“It’s important to introduce them to the best music the world has to offer,” Walters said. “They spend a lot of time listening to pop music which, frankly, comes and goes. The music I’ll play has been around for centuries and centuries and is part of the world’s shared heritage.

“My goal is to talk about the music composers, bring them to life, and remind them that this music belongs to them and children around the world.”

Tickets are available at Northcountry Fair and River City Books in Soldotna and Already Read Books and Country Liquor in Kenai. There also should be tickets at the door, but Christian said the only way to guarantee a spot is to buy early.

The rest of the Performing Arts Society season is classical flute and piano with Tomoka Raften and Maria Allison on Nov. 9, contralto opera and art songs with Rehanna Thelwell on Feb. 2, and Eduard Zilberkant and the UAF String Faculty on April 6.

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