Cool orchestra performs Saturday

Published on Thu, Sep 18, 2008 by ara Nelson

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Cool orchestra performs Saturday

By Tara Nelson

The Arctic Chamber Orchestra (ACO) is in town this weekend for two concerts, one for Blaine school students on Friday, September 19, and for the public in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) the next day, Saturday September 20 at 7:30 p.m.

The concerts are sponsored by Blaine’s Performing Arts Association.
Blaine’s Don Stagg, whose much-visited “Staggsonian” keyboard museum fills his house at the corner of H Street and Harvey Road, was the second director of the ACO’s parent group, the Fairbanks Symphony, conducting his first concert on February 13, 1961.

“I showed up fresh from the University of Montana with a bachelor’s degree in music and my cello,” said Stagg, 72, with a laugh, “but they didn’t like my cello playing as much as they did my conducting, I guess.”

The 36-member ACO is the touring arm of the Fairbanks Symphony, both of which are now conducted by pianist Eduard Zilberkant, who will be making his third visit to Blaine. He performed a solo concert in 2001 and then returned to Blaine two years ago for a concert sponsored by the Bellingham Festival of Music, playing Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto.

Like Stagg, Zilberkant was a keyboard prodigy. Zilberkant performed on Russian television at the age of seven and made his American debut at the age of 12 performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1.

That led to an invitation to play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the first of 20 such invitations from that group alone over the years.

A Fulbright Scholar in Germany, Zilberkant received a Solisten Diploma from the Freiburg Musik Hochschule and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Temple University.

He has taught at Temple, Villanova University and Breisach Jugendmusikschule in Germany.

He was named interim music director in 2001 and in 2004 was appointed music director and conductor of both the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and the Arctic Chamber Orchestra. He also directs the Fairbanks Youth Symphony.

Zilberkant is an associate professor of piano and heads the keyboard studies program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Tickets are available at the door and at Pacific Building Center, Blackberry House, Blaine Visitor Information Center, Busy B & Company, Steamers, Smuggler’s Inn, Semiahmoo Resort as well as from Pacific Arts Association (PAA) board members.