Cello-piano program spotlights Rachmaninoff sonata, work by Portland composer

Two expressive but seldom-heard compositions – one by Portland composer Elliott Cherry and the other Rachmaninoff’s ultra-romantic Sonata in G Minor – headline a Bates College concert by cellist Kathleen Foster and pianist Martin Perry at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell Street. Admission is free.

Both Foster and Perry are Brunswick residents. Foster, a member of the Bates music faculty, is principal cellist for the Maine Chamber Ensemble and the Maine State Ballet Orchestra. Perry, widely known as part of a prizewinning piano duo with Kathryn Lewis, is a versatile player whose credentials include performances with the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

The Foster-Perry program represents four centuries of music, from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G major to “Music for cello and piano,” completed in April 2001 by Portland composer Elliott Cherry. Also on the program are “Fantasie-Stuecke” (Op. 73) by Robert Schumann and the Sonata in G Minor (Op. 19) by Sergey Rachmaninoff.

The Rachmaninoff, Perry notes, “isn’t played as often as its great beauty warrants, perhaps because of its virtuosic piano writing, equal in difficulty to his Preludes and Etudes. The soaring melodies in the cello are often accompanied by rapid, florid filigree, and the piano solos are concerto-like in effect.

But its greatest challenge, he continues, “is achieving this technical control within a dynamic scope appropriate to the cello and the chamber music setting overall.”

Perry is a graduate of the Juilliard School. He worked as a theater pianist, creating and performing late-night cabarets off-Broadway. One such musical, Marry Me a Little, with music by Stephen Sondheim, was a hit and remains a theatrical staple. Perry’s recording of music from the show is available on CD from RCA.

Perry has appeared several times as a Portland Symphony Orchestra soloist and performs chamber music throughout New England. In 1991, he and Kathryn Lewis formed their duo-piano team, going on to win a prize in the Dranoff International Two Piano Competition. Their recent concerts have included one with PCA Great Performances and three with the Boston Pops.

A student of Janos Starker and Fritz Magg at Indiana University, Foster has been principal cellist with the Lima (Ohio) Symphony, Hanover (N.H.) Chamber Orchestra, Delaware Chamber Orchestra, and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. She has played with the Vermont Symphony, the Toledo Opera Association and the Delaware Symphony.

She is a member of the Portland Symphony and the Portland Opera Repertory Theatre orchestras and is principal cellist of the Maine Chamber Ensemble and the Maine State Ballet Orchestra. Recent performances include dates at the Bach Festival in North Conway and the Round Top Center for the Arts.

A member of the applied music faculty at Bates, Foster teaches at the Merriconeag Waldorf School and maintains a private studio.

For more information about the concert, please call 207-786-6135.

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