2019 Sunriver Music Festival Schedule

Aug. 7 — Piano Master Class with Olga Kern and advanced piano students; 2 p.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Sunriver (free, audience welcome)

Aug. 10 — Classical Concert I with Olga Kern; 7:30 p.m.; Tower Theatre in downtown Bend

Aug. 12 — Solo Piano Concert with Olga Kern; 7:30 p.m.; Sunriver Resort Great Hall

Aug. 13 — Chamber Ensemble Concert with Heidi Williams (piano), Yvonne Hsueh (violin), Heather Blackburn (cello) and Stanislov Golovin (clarinet); 7 p.m., Sunriver Resort Great Hall (free with donations accepted)

Aug. 15 — Classical Concert II, featuring Giovanni Parra on bandoneon, baritone Octavio Moreno and violinists Corine Brouwer and Dan Skidmore; 7:30 p.m.; Sunriver Resort Great Hall

Aug. 17 — Pops Concert, Featuring Octavio Moreno, baritone; Giovanni Parra, bandoneon; and symphonic photochoreography by Nicholas Bardonnay and Westwater Arts; 7:30 p.m.; Summit High School

Aug. 19 — Classical Concert III, featuring flutist Alexander Lipay; 7:30 p.m.;

Aug. 20 — Discover the Symphony Concert, a one-house concert in a fun, informal setting; 3 p.m.; Sunriver Resort Great Hall

Aug. 22 — Classical Concert IV, featuring pianist Eric Zuber; 7:30 p.m.; Sunriver Resort Great Hall, 7:30 p.m.

For tickets and more info, contact: sunrivermusic.org, information@sunrivermusic.org or 541-593-9310

The theme of the 42nd Sunriver Music Festival is “Love Stories — Around the World with Music.”

And as fate would have it, during the past year, Maestro George Hanson married a Russian woman and moved to Virginia, which — if its longtime ad slogan is truthful — is for lovers.

Whether the season’s love theme and the conductor’s parallel life events are happy coincidence or not, Hanson coyly laughed and said, “We don’t have to get too specific. You can play with that.”

Either way, love will be in the Central Oregon air during the month of August, when the classical music fest returns to Bend and Sunriver for over a week of concerts. As in years past, there will be four classical concerts, a solo piano concert and pops concert, plus a new chamber ensemble concert.

Olga Kern

The festival has a number of exciting soloists on the schedule, including internationally renowned pianist Olga Kern.

“Olga Kern is one of the biggest names on the scene we’ve ever had, certainly during my time here,” said Hanson, who has worked with Kern twice before, in Germany and Tucson, where he formerly conducted the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

“She’s one of the most exciting pianists and artists of the last couple of decades. I’m thrilled to be able to bring her thanks to the support of some of our folks.” Hanson’s bride will also attend the concert. “She loves Olga as well. She’s a very well-known artist, both in Russia and here.”

Kern plays twice here, first on Classical Concert I, which kicks off the series Aug. 10 at the Tower Theatre in Bend. The evening’s program features Glinka’s “Ruslan and Ludmilla” Overture, Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” Overture and his Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23, the last of which features Kern.

“That concert will pretty much define us,” Hanson said. “If people come to that, it will be very hard not to come to every other concert during the festival.”

On Aug. 12, Kern will give the year’s solo piano concert, a program including works by Schumann, Gershwin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and more.

Alexander Lipay

Flutist Alexander Lipay will perform with the Festival Orchestra in Classical Concert III, playing 19th century Italian composer Saverio Mercadante’s Flute Concerto in E minor, on a program that also includes Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony.

In the life’s not fair department, the multitalented Lipay is also piano player (he double-majored in it and flute as an undergrad) and a talented visual artist, and one of his works was chosen for this year’s SRMF poster. Lipay told GO! via email that’s a first for him as a visual artist.

“I’ve had several exhibitions in the past, but this is definitely the first time when I submitted my work for sort of an art competition, when a jury makes a selection of one artwork to be a visual representation of the music festival,” he said.

“I am very happy that they chose my painting, and I hope that people enjoy it.”

As a self-taught painter, Lipay said his goal was “to come up with my own distinct style so that it doesn’t resemble other works of art that you usually find in galleries. I purposefully did not want to take a single lesson, and tried to come up with my own individual style. I really did not want my art to mimic any other artist. I experimented a lot. My influences are French impressionists. I am a big fan of Van Gogh, Monet and Gauguin.”

Before we move on to other aspects, let’s take a moment to appreciate Lipay’s other claim to fame: He holds the Guinness World Record for the most standing ab wheel rolls in a minute — 27.

“So officially I have the strongest abs on the planet,” he said.

Pops Concert

Hanson is also excited about the season’s Pops Concert on Aug. 17 at Summit High School in Bend. The Latin-flavored evening features Mexican baritone Octavio Moreno and Colombian bandoneonista Giovanni Parra. If that name rings a bell, you may recall Parra’s visit and performance with The Central Oregon Mastersingers last spring.

“I knew that he was a huge hit, and so we wanted to bring him back,” Hanson said.

Accompanying their performance is a video component known as symphonic photochoreography, by Nicholas Bardonnay and Westwater Arts. Moreno and Parra will also be on hand at Classical Concert II Aug. 15 at Sunriver Resort Great Hall. Along with other works, the program features Bizet’s Suite from Carmen, Vivaldi’s “Spring” from “The Four Seasons,” and two works by Piazzolla — “Spring” from “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” and the “Aconcagua” Concerto for Bandoneon.

“It has not an ounce of artificiality,” Hanson said of “Aconcagua.” “Every note is sincere. It’s like a beautiful love letter.”

Hanson has performed “Aconcagua” several times before, including nearly a decade ago with SRMF.

“I remember one of the musicians coming to me and saying, ‘You know, if we could play more music like this piece, we would all be so happy,’” Hanson said. “And it’s true. The great musicians of this festival love playing great music. It’s not so important what the style is. It’s important that it’s really put together with the sincerest artistic sensibility. And that’s what this piece is.”

For the Pops Concert, “We’re doing a multimedia show, with first pre-Colombian — so we’re looking at South America through the ancient artistic world. And then we’re taking a look at Mexico itself, both its music and its visual beauty,” Hanson said.

Moreno “will sing some of the most beautiful love songs, and then of course we’ll have more tango. Tango is the musical language of love, and that’s what’s going to connect our Classic and our Pops concert.”

This year marks Hanson’s second-to-last with the Festival. It seems he only just arrived, but in actuality this is his ninth season with SRMF, and he’s told the Festival Board that 2020 will mark his last with the festival.

Maybe that has to do with why this year’s theme is love.

“Music, they call it a universal language, but it’s really a very direct connection to the human heart and soul,” Hanson said. “And therefore (it’s) the perfect medium for communicating love. I guess if I were to describe it, it is, yep, the language of love.”