April 06, 2020

Percussionists join pianists for Nov. 5 chamber concert

Two years ago when hotshot pianist Jonathan Biss blazed through town, he brought the pyrotechnics of his own fine solo work. He’ll be back in town again at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, in Minsky Hall at the Maine Center for the Arts, this time with pianist chum Benjamin Hochman and the percussionsists Ayano Kataoka (left) and James Deitz. Hochman is for Mozart’s Sonata in F Major for four hands, Schubert’s Fanatasie in F Minor for four hands, and six Schumann works arranged by Debussy for two pianos. The percussionists are for Bartok’s Sonata for two pianos as well as timpani, bass drum, cymbals, side drums (with and without snare), a gong and xylophone. “It’s such a huge, great, amazing piece,” said Kataoka, a Japan-born percussionist. “It’s one of Bartok’s masterpieces.” Percussionists aren’t often featured in small chamber concerts with classical programs, especially playing such a variety of instruments, said Kataoka. But she’s charged about the Bartok. Kataoka heard the beat of her own drum during kindergarten back in Japan. Her teacher offered classes in violin, piano and drums. At 5, Kataoka started on violin but quickly gave it up for the marimba. By age 9, she toured China. Having completed studies at Tokyo National University, the Peabody Conservatory and Yale, the virtuoso marimbist now lives in New York City, where she is the first percussionist to join the residency program at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. “With percussion, it’s easy to make a sound. You just hit something,” said Kataoka. “But there are so many textures of sound. That’s what’s interesting to me.” This is her first gig with Biss, who has become a favorite classical performer not only in Maine (where his uncle George is responsible for lots of good music in Washington County) but internationally. The concert is also a warm-up. After Maine, the group moves on to the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

For information and tickets, call 581-1755 or visit www.mainecenterforthearts.org.

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