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  • “Triple Play” will be the theme of the Southeast Kansas Symphony concert at 3 p.m. Sunday in McCray Recital Hall, Pittsburg State University.

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  • “Triple Play” will be the theme of the Southeast Kansas Symphony concert at 3 p.m. Sunday in McCray Recital Hall, Pittsburg State University.
    It will feature three pieces by Beethoven and two guests artists — Irena Ravitskaya, pianist, and Bruce Williams, violist.
    “This will be a really neat collaboration for the symphony,” said Stella Hastings, symphony conductor.
    Ravitskaya will be featured in “Piano Concerto No. 4 in G. Major, Op. 58, which had its debut in a concert on Dec. 22, 1808, in Vienna, Austria. That monumental concert also included the debuts of Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, as well as his “Choral Fantasy.”
    “The concert was 4 1/2 hours long and, because of a heating system malfunction at the theater, it was freezing cold,” Hastings said.
    She promised that the Sunday concert won’t be nearly that long, and that McCray Recital Hall will be warm and comfortable.
    Ravitskaya said that the piece was the composer’s first mature concerto and is unique in structure, harmony, theme and acoustics. The composer himself played piano for the debut, using a special piano with an extended keyboard.
    “This had a unique acoustic effect,” Ravitskaya said. “It is almost impossible to duplicate this effect on a modern piano.”
    She is a native of Moldova, which was part of the former Soviet Union.
    “After the fall of the Soviet Union, it was difficult for us to find a place,” she said. “We were granted refugee status by the United States government, and we moved to Boise, Idaho, in 1995.”
    Ravitskaya began playing piano at the age of 6, and at 9 won the National Competition of Moldova. She attended the State School of Music in her hometown, and later studied at Moldova State Conservatory. She earned a master of music at Boise State University, and her doctor of music in piano performance from Indiana University.
    She is now a new Kansan. After teaching at Boise State University and Indiana University, she joined the faculty of Fort Hays State University in August.
    “This is my first time in Pittsburg, and I feel very honored to be invited,” she said. “I like a small town feel, and Hays is also small.”
    Her son is a student at Indiana University, and her husband is still in Boise until the couple’s home there can be sold.
    “It is difficult now to sell property, but we will be reunited,” Ravitskaya said.
    This will be the 12th trip to Pittsburg for Bruce Williams, who will be featured in “Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21.” First, he’s a longtime friend of conductor Hastings and her husband, Todd Hastings. Second, his son, Dalton, is now attending PSU and is a trumpet student of Todd.
    “Todd started recruiting Dalton when he was in high school,” Williams said.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Last summer when Bruce, his wife and Dalton were here, Bruce offered to come perform here and asked for possible dates,” Hastings said. “I said February.”
    “It’s a great opportunity for me to come and make music with my friends and with my son,” Williams said. “Dalton will be principal trumpet for this concert.”
    He’s also delighted to be playing in Beethoven’s first symphony, in which the young composer took the traditional form in new directions.
    Williams began his professional career at 16, and three years later won a position with the Fort Worth Symphony. He later traveled to Israel and became principal violist with the Haifa Symphony, as well as a member of the Haifa Clarinet Trio, which performed across Israel and Europe.
    After returning to the United States, he became a member of the Orchestra of Santa Fe, and also performed extensively as a free-lance player. He  is currently principal violist in the Austin Symphony and the Victoria Bach Festival. He is also a member of the Allegro Chamber Trio, which has been touring the United States for Years and has been featured on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today.”
    Opening the concert will be Beethoven’s “Fidelio Overture, Op. 72c,” the overture to the composer’s only opera.
    “It’s a perfect little gem, only four minutes long,” Williams said. “It’s a petit four of Beethoven.”
    Concert tickets will be $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. Children 12 and younger will be admitted free with an adult. Tickets may be obtained from the PSU Ticket Office, by calling 235-4796 or at the door.

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