The Kantorski-Pope Piano Duo is a Steinway Artist Ensemble. The artists will present a program on two pianos that will offer a mix of music, from the sparkle of Mozart and the drama of Brahms’s gypsy-like Hungarian Dances, to the excitement and pathos of “The Wizard of Oz.” There will also be music by Richard Rodgers, arranged for two pianos by Ms. Pope, who promised a special surprise for Tennesseans.
Ann Almond Pope and Valrie Kantorski expressed being grateful to the Cleveland Music Club for the opportunity to play in Pope’s hometown, where she studied with Miss Ruth Aiken as a child, and that they appreciate being able to participate in an event which will help young musicians from the Cleveland area as they continue their education.
The Kantorski-Pope Piano Duo was formed in 1988. The two pianists met when they were both teaching in the Creative Arts Department at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. A musical and personal friendship evolved into a pianistic partnership when they discovered that playing music for two pianos was not only tremendously fun, but also musically rewarding for both of them.
Kantorski expanded her professional outreach to include the position of principal keyboardist with the Toledo Symphony. Pope joined her with the symphony when the music called for an extra keyboardist. Their musical partnership encouraged Pope to begin arranging music for two pianos, even finding a publisher for her works. The duo won awards and residencies, concertizing regularly for several years.
Then, in 1998, Ann and her husband, David, moved to Chattanooga to be near Ann’s mother in Cleveland, and the duo faced serious logistical challenges to their collaboration. In 2003, they reunited and overcame several hurdles to be able to play concerts again, even meeting halfway in Kentucky for practice and planning sessions.
Their CD of “Brahms: 21 Hungarian Dances,” which was released in 2010 was recorded in three sessions over a period of several months. The duo was honored to receive Steinway Ensemble Artist status in 2012.
The Kantorski-Pope Piano Duo is a three-time winner of First Prize in the Graves Duo-Piano Competition. The two-piano ensemble was awarded the Virginia E. Schrader Residency in the Performing Arts from the Toledo Museum of Art in conjunction with the national touring exhibition titled “Impressionism.”
In addition, the duo was selected for membership in the Touring Artists Program of the Ohio Arts Council.
Other activities have included performances with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, appearances on National Public Radio and PBS, and participation in the New Music and Arts Festival sponsored by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music.
Tickets for the scholarship fundraiser at the Museum Center are $10 per person. Advance purchase is advised to assure seating. Tickets may be purchased at the Cleveland-Bradley Public Library, on Church Street, and at Meagher & Meagher Furniture, at the corner of Inman and Church streets. For more information, call Pat Meagher at 423-715-2126.
CDs of the “Brahms: 21 Hungarian Dances” recorded by the Kantorski-Pope Piano Duo on the Whaling City Sound label may be purchased for $15 following the concert.
The evening will conclude with refreshments served by members of the Cleveland Music Club’s Hospitality Committee, chaired by Pam Edgemon.