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Juilliard graduate Konstantin Soukhovetski to perform with Auburn Symphony

Mozart, Bruckner in store for concerts
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal Features Editor
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A world-class pianist brings his lifelong experience to the foothills this weekend as he performs with the Auburn Symphony for its latest Masterworks concerts, “Cathedrals of Sound.”

Soloist Konstantin Soukhovetski, born in Russia, said he can’t remember a time in his life when he didn’t play piano. He has lived in New York City for 13 years, where he earned his undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in piano performance at The Juilliard School. Today he’s a full-time musician who has made the time for several years to return to Auburn to play with the symphony.

Soukhovetski’s relationship with the symphony here began at Juilliard in 2006, when Michael Goodwin, symphony conductor, went on the hunt for phenomenal musicians to perform in the Gold Country. The symphony was searching for graduating musicians from major conservatories, and contacted Juilliard. Soukhovetski performed Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, and the response was so positive that he re-turned a few years later to play Tchaikovsky.

“He plays wonderfully,” Goodwin said. “He’s a top international performer and he’s a very nice person. … He’s very musical and very sensitive, and a wonderful pianist.”

In New York, Soukhovetski has a full performance schedule, including playing in a four-piano “super band,” Fourtissimo. Soukhovetski is also a film and stage actor and recently produced a reality show “Real Pianists of the Hamptons,” following the performers at Pianofest in the Hamptons, where Soukhovetski is an artist in residence.

For this trip to Auburn, Soukhovetski will be the featured soloist during Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor. The pianist said he enjoys playing with the Auburn Symphony because while the members are volunteers, they are also top-notch musicians.

“Every time I come back they get better,” Soukhovetski said. “There’s progress, very visible progress, which I think is wonderful. Any musical institution has to work at getting better all the time, otherwise it gets kind of stale. So I’m very much excited to hear them again and play with them.”

Soukhovetski was in Auburn for his 31st birthday Thursday, where he performed at a fundraiser for the symphony’s musical education program.
Jennifer Keck, a violinist and founding symphony musician, said she looks forward to performing with Soukhovetstki every time he’s in town.

“I think he’s terrific,” she said. “He’s full of energy, life, vitality. He brings with him that drama, that flair, that pizzazz. It makes it very exciting to play with not only an exciting and brilliant pianist, but also somebody who’s got such a wonderful personality. He loves what he’s doing.”

In addition to Mozart, the symphony will perform Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 in E Flat Major, which Goodwin said provides an “emotional counterbalance” to Mozart. Bruckner was an Austrian composer in the 1800s whose works were known for their dramatic variations.

“I have always liked his musical language very much – his harmonic progression, the way he builds things,” Goodwin said. “The majesty of it is incredibly positive.”

Goodwin said his goal for this weekend’s performances is for audience members to lose themselves in the music.

“A transcendental experience is what I’d really like,” he said. “Where they get their petty thoughts and needs, and whatever is going on in their lives, and just take away something timeless.”

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at krissik@goldcountrymedia.com.

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“Cathedrals of Sound”

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22

Where: Placer High School Theater, 275 Orange St., Auburn

Cost: Tickets $30 to $45 at www.auburnsymphony.com

Info: (530) 823-6683, www.auburnsymphony.com