Two-Piano Concert at COCC

(Photo above: L-R, Janet Smith and Darlene Cusick courtesy of Janet Smith)

Pianists Janet Smith and Darlene Cusick will present a concert of two-piano music on Saturday, June 9 at 3pm in Wille Hall at COCC Campus Center. The concert will feature music by Mozart, Gershwin, Schumann and Milhaud. French horn player L. William Kuyper, retired Assistant Principal of the New York Philharmonic will assist in the Schumann. Also performing will be two well-known Bend cellists, Deborah Johnston and Travis Allen. There is no charge for admission.

Janet Smith, a resident of Bend, is a highly regarded performer and teacher. She holds piano performance degrees from Juilliard and Oberlin Conservatory and has played many solo and chamber music recitals, concerti with orchestra, and appeared on television and radio. She served on the faculties of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, West Valley College, and DeAnza College. Her private studio in the San Francisco Bay Area produced prize-winning students, some of whom have become professional musicians.

Darlene Cusick is from Portland, where she is an accomplished pianist, organist, and teacher. She holds piano performance degrees from Lewis & Clark and the University of Washington. A frequent solo and collaborative artist, she has played concerti with the Oregon Symphony, Portland Youth Philharmonic, and Vancouver Symphony in Washington. In 2011 she was a semi-finalist in the Van Cliburn Amateur Competition. She taught at Lewis & Clark, and her private studio has developed many students who are now professional musicians.

L. William Kuyper joined the New York Philharmonic in 1969 at the invitation of the legendary George Szell. He served as Assistant Principal for 38 years, serving under conductors Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, and others. His long career has included performances at the White House, Alice Tully Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philips Gallery, the National Cathedral, the National Gallery of Art, and many more. He has performed extensively as a concerto soloist in the U.S. and abroad and has made numerous recordings. He has taught at several schools, including Columbia University.

Deborah Johnston is a highly regarded cello teacher in Bend. A graduate of London’s Guildhall School of Music, she spent 30 years in London, performing with all the major orchestras. She was a member of the English National Opera Orchestra for nearly 20 years.

Travis Allen is principal cellist of the Central Oregon Symphony and a frequent performer throughout Central Oregon. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology and two cello performance degrees. He teaches at Central Oregon Community College and in his Bend studio.

The June 9 program includes Mozart’s Sonata in D major, K. 448, one of his finest and most entertaining works. The two piano parts are made completely equal, with masterfully crafted dialogue between them. Its delicacy and refinement as it spins out many delightful themes make it one of the most profound and mature of all Mozart’s compositions. “Fantasy on George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess” was arranged by Percy Grainger. It is a medley of songs from the famous opera, including such favorites as “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and the beautiful “Summertime.” Andante and Variations, Op. 46 by Schumann features all five musicians in a chamber work exhibiting the imagination and originality of this great romantic composer. “Scaramouche” by Darius Milhaud finishes the program with a suite of three movements. The first is lively and witty, the second is delicate with a French flavor, and the last is a showpiece with delightfully infectious Brazilian rhythms.

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