Richard Dowling poses with a piano. (Photo provided by Richard Dowling)

Performing Arts Society returns with piano concert

After rescheduling for two years and a long trip from the East Coast this week, Richard Dowling is back Saturday for the Performing Arts Society’s first concert since the start of the pandemic.

Dowling, an acclaimed classical pianist based out of New York, said he’s excited to be back performing at the Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna on Saturday.

“It’s nice to be back,” he said. “I’m thrilled that things are starting to pick back up again.”

Dowling grew up in Texas, and when he was little his mom signed him up for baseball, swimming and piano lessons. He said the music stuck with him.

“I had a natural affinity for music,” he said.

Dowling noted the first thing many folks do when they move into a new house, apartment or office building is set up a sound system for music. It’s not cliche, he said, to say that people need music.

That’s what keeps him at the piano.

“When you’re a musician, music is the way we express ourselves,” Dowling said. “I’m still in love with it after all these years.”

Dowling performed alongside another musician in Soldotna at a concert in 2016, and said he had a great time playing at the church. He praised the Christ Lutheran Church’s vaulted ceiling, acoustics and piano.

“It’s really just such a pleasure to play here,” Dowling said.

Barb Christian, the president of the Performing Arts Society, said Saturday night’s concert has been a long time coming.

“We’ve always wanted to have him back as a pianist because he’s fabulous,” she said.

According to Dowling’s biography, he has played shows all around the world, including sold out recitals at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

“This is a really high-powered person coming to our area, and the best part about it is he’s so excited to do it,” Christian said.

The first half of Saturday’s performance, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church, will feature classical music. After the intermission, Dowling will play an array of American and Latin American pieces.

Seating is limited to 100 attendees to provide enough space for social distancing, and Christian said masks are recommended.

Tickets are available — $20 for adults and $10 for students — at Curtain Call, Country Liquor and Already Read in Kenai, as well as River City Books and Northcountry Fair in Soldotna while supplies last. If any tickets are left over they will be available at the door.

“It’s just incredible to have talent like this here,” Christian said.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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