The first Performing Arts Society concert of the season showed the international-caliber talent this area can attract in pianist Teresa Walters. The second one will showcase the international-caliber talent living right here on the central Kenai Peninsula.
Tomoka Raften and Maria Allison will give a concert of classical flute and piano Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Soldotna Christ Lutheran Church.
“Tomoka lives here but she has performed internationally,” Allison said of Raften, who moved to Soldotna in 2013. “We’re lucky to have her here.”
Allison said that two years ago, the world-famous James Galway was giving a master class in Switzerland and Raften was one of 10 flutists from around the world chosen to attend.
Raften received a Master of Music from the University of Music “Franz Liszt” Weimar in Germany and a bachelor’s in flute performance, with honors, from Kyoto City University of Arts in Japan.
Allison got her bachelor’s and master’s at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying music education, piano performance and chamber music. Her fingerprints have been all over the area music scene for years. Raften is not the first international talent to sing her praises.
“I love playing with Maria as a musician,” said Raften, who will play a sixth concert with Allison. “We share the same passion.”
Raften said music is more than just the correct notes and rhythm. She said performers discover the emotions the composer intended, then relay those emotions from a piece that may have been written hundreds of years ago to a modern audience.
“It’s like an actor that plays Shakespeare,” Raften said. “The musician has to create the artwork out of what the composer made.”
Raften chose the six pieces to be performed. She said she chose them from a wide range of time periods and countries.
The evening starts with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Sonata for flute and keyboard in G minor. According to program notes, the piece may have been composed by Bach, Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach or a collaboration between the two.
“I think almost every concert I’ve done with her, we’ve played Bach,” said Allison of the composer born in 1685. “She knows I love playing Bach.”
Next is Air Valaques by Franz Doppler. Raften said flutes have gotten much better since the time of Doppler, who was born in 1821. She said this Romantic piece is a technical challenge on the modern flute.
Following is Sonata for Flute and Piano by Francis Poulenc, born in 1899. Raften said Poulenc was known as half monk, half naughty boy. His father was Catholic, while his mother was an artist. Listeners can hear how that plays out in his music.
Ballade for Flute and Piano, by Frank Martin, is next. Raften said Martin is Swiss and wrote this piece in 1940, a great time of tumult for the world.
“The Frank Martin is very dramatic with a lot of dark, ominous stuff,” Allison said. “The way it builds from soft to loud, slow to fast is very dramatic.”
Next up is Voice for Solo Flutist by Takemitsu Toru, who lived from 1930 to 1996. Raften said Toru combines Eastern and Western music. He grew up in Japan when the U.S. Army was still there after World War II and initially rejected the Japanese tradition of music before coming back to it later.
“It’s like a continuation of natural sound, like water dripping or wind through a bamboo forest,” Raften said.
The duo will call on clarinetist Mark Wolbers, the University of Alaska Anchorage Emeritus Professor of Music, for Trio for Piano, Cello and Flute by Friedrich Kuhlau, who was born in 1786 and fled his native Germany for Denmark as a young man. Wolbers transcribed the cello part in the piece for basset horn.
“Mark Wolbers has played with Tomoka and me several times,” Allison said. “He’s a good friend and musical comrade and he’ll be fun to have here.”
In keeping with the mission of the Performing Arts Society, Raften and Allison will give two concerts in the schools in January.
Tickets for Friday’s event are $20, or $10 for students. They are available at Northcountry Fair, River City Books, Already Read Books and Country Liquor.