Sunday, February 15, 2015

Why I Live Here - Zuill Bailey, Rachel Barton Pine, and Eduard Zilberkant Play Down The Street

We went to the Sitka Music Festival's Winter Classics at UAA Saturday night.  Three incredible musicians, world class musicians, playing in the incredible concert hall in the UAA theater arts building.

Many readers have probably never heard of these people, though I did write about Zuill Bailey
Bailey and Zilberkant
before.  You've heard of sculptors who release the sculpture living inside a piece of marble.  My sense of Zuill Bailey is that he sets the music free from inside the cello.  He doesn't so much play the cello as help it sing.

Eduard Zilberkant was the pianist.  Let me just say he was also amazing, even though I'm partial to the strings.  Listening to the three instruments together,  trading off sounds then coming together, yet not quite, it was breath taking. Literally.  There were points where I had to remind myself to start breathing again. Go to the link, I'd be up all night if I tried to do these musicians any justice at all.

And then there was Rachel Burton Pine.  (Just go to the link.)  As is painfully clear to anyone who knows about music, I'm just a casual listener.  I can't tell you really why in musical terms, I can just tell you what it did to me.  In this case, I'm going to use someone else's words to tell you who she is and what she does.
Barton and Zilberkant

Because she plays again tomorrow night and at the Discovery Theater downtown there are more seats and it's not sold out yet.   From the Daily Beast,  why you should get tickets and go:
Violinist  Rachel Barton Pine’s life is a seemingly unending list of extraordinary achievements, from her soloist debut at age 10 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to her recent live performances of Paganini’s ‘24 Caprices For Solo Violin’--a series of virtuosic pieces so technically challenging that very few violinists perform them in sequence. She has published a book of her own arrangements and cadenzas, recorded 24 albums, and travelled with the world’s most prestigious ensembles. 

She's going to play those Paganini's '24 Caprices for Solo Violin' Sunday evening (Feb. 15)  at 7:30pm.  This isn't something you can see very often.  And it's here, in Anchorage, with a premiere violinist.

The Standing Ovation

Let's go back to the title of this post.  Why I Live Here.  Most of the posts that have that label are about getting to nature quickly.  But another advantage of Anchorage is that we have world class performers who we can see in intimate settings for much less than people pay in big cities.  The University venue they were in Saturday is a 30 minute walk from my house, a five minute drive, with free parking.

If you look at the pictures you can see how intimate it was Saturday night - there were 20 overflow seats on stage!   Not a good place to sit if you're prone to fall asleep in a concert.  But if you're that close, it would probably be hard to do.

Saturday night's tickets were less than half the cheapest tickets when we went to a mediocre concert at the Disney Concert Hall in LA.  The UAA Concert Hall is a magical acoustical music box seating only 200 people.  The Disney in LA seats eleven times that many - 2,265.  The Discovery Theater, where Rachel Barton Pine plays tonight (Sunday,) seats 800, still a relatively small venue.

This is most of the audience on the main floor.  There's a smaller balcony above.  Thank you Michael Hood for fighting for this building and getting it built with such incredible performing spaces.  These people played here Saturday because Zuill Bailey loved the acoustics.

Here's a little preview of Sunday night's concert.  (Sorry, this post is getting a bit cluttered.)

Caprice # 12 - from Violin Sheet Music

And if you don't read music, here's a different sort of preview of the music (be sure to listen to the end.)

I do have to make a minor disclosure here.  I learned this week that a college friend of my son  is Rachel Barton Pine's husband.  But that's not why I'm gushing here.  This was fantastic and tomorrow night will be too.


  1. Steve, it is that profound response you describe, that hope-fulfilled falling into bliss -- and knowing we had audience members untrained in an art form who experienced that -- that gave my time at Out North such life-affirming depth at times. I knew that there would be those moments when an artist and a glorious moment of transcendence took flight in that simple black box. Thanks for reminding me of some very good memories. I'll take a listen.

    1. Jacob, some kinds of greatness speak in a universal language. And I do appreciate all the aha moments I have had at Out North. At the second concert, last night, I saw one of the new board at Out North and she said something's coming next month. Can't wait.

  2. Many of us who do not live in Alaska are VERY envious of what you have with Zuill Bailey, and the talent he brings. World class and then some!

    1. Mbroyderer, I assure you that those who pay attention to good music in Alaska do appreciate the treasure we've got. Don't stay envious. Fly up and join us for a future event.


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