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Opera house performances begin


--Photo courtesy of Karen Robertson.

Kevin Hekmatpanah opens the Opera House season with the cello March 2, accompanied by Tomoko Kimura on piano.

Opera House Performance

Friday, March 2, was the opening of the 2018 opera house season with Kevin Hekmatpanah on cello and Tomoko Kimura, accompanist on piano, performing to an appreciative audience in the Harrington Opera House. Hekmatpanah, a native of Chicago, has performed around the globe and throughout the country in concerts, festivals, recitals, symphonies and competitions. This past summer he performed at St. Stephens Cathedral in Vienna and the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria. He is a Professor of Music at Gonzaga University, where he has taught since 1994. He is currently a member of the Spokane Symphony Orchestra. He is deeply committed to teaching. His own teachers have included such nationally renowned pedagogues as Stephen Kates, Fritz Magg, and Gabor Rejto and he has received coaching from such internationally celebrated artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell and Janos Starker. His last performance in the Harrington Opera House was April 7, 2017 with Darin Manica at the piano.

Linda Wagner, president of the Opera House Society, welcomed the audience and made a few brief comments before Hekmatpanah took center stage. He introduced Bach's music and then as a soloist performed "Suite No. 3 in C Major" by Johann S. Bach (1685-1750), consisting of Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Bourree and Gigue. The audience was enthralled with this performance.

The remainder of the program was performed with accompanist, Tomoko Kimura, who has been teaching Group Piano Class at Eastern Washington University since 2005. It was at Eastern that she received her Master's degree in Piano Performance in 2006, studying under Dr. Jody Graves, Ms. Kendall Feeney and Margaret Brink. She received her Bachelor's degree in Music Education from the Kunitachi School of Music in 1996, where she studied under Fumiko Yoshida and Yukiko Takeyama. In her high school in Kunitachi, she majored in clarinet and was the principal clarinetist. Since coming to Spokane to study, Tomoko has accompanied dozens of instrumentalists and vocalists, from undergraduate students to world-class performers. She has earned several awards including the James Edmonds Collaborative Pianist Award. Tomoko was the music director for the Spokane Children's Theatre winter 2007 production of The Velveteen Rabbit as well as for the spring 2007 production of Cinderella. In addition to teaching at Eastern Wash. University, she also teaches private lessons to both children and adults and is in high demand as a professional accompanist.

The program numbers included Song Without Word, Op. 109 by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), to which the audience responded enthusiastically with robust applause, Adagio ad Rondo by Carl Maria Von Weber (1786-1826), Meditation From Thais by Jules Massenet (1842-1912), Nocturne, Op. 19, No. 4 by Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), and Allegro Appassionato, Op. 43 by Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921). Following a short intermission they resumed with the final three numbers: Elegy, Op. 24 by Gabriel Faure (1845-1924), Kol Nidrei, Op. 47 by Max Bruch (1838-1920) and "Hungarian Rhapsody, Op. 68" by David Popper (1843-1913). A standing ovation did not elicit an additional number. There may have been good reason as one takes in the magnitude of the rest of the details of the last two days before this performance.

This event was advertised as the return of Kevin Hekmatpanah, cellist, with world renowned pianist, Paulina Zamora, who would be new to this opera house. Hekmatpanah wrote to the Society on Wednesday, Feb. 28, that his pianist had fallen on ice which put her shoulder out of commission. He announced at that time that he had found another pianist, Tomoko Kimura, who would be willing to play and that there would be a few changes in the program. Eastern Washington University attracts or creates masterful and magical musicians who can prepare in two days or less for a spectacular performance in complete unison with the cellist. Kimura deserves a special award for accepting such a unique and difficult challenge and meeting it with excellence.

Cello performances in the historic opera house occurred Jan. 1, 1913 with the World Famous DeMoss Lyric Bards to a full house with a cello solo to Shubert's Serenade. Similarly, in Jan. of 1914 the Hallowell Concert Company of Chicago had a cello soloist in their troup. The Hallowell 9-Piece Orchestra played for a March dance in 1918 and had a cello solo for Village Song. In Jan. 1924, the Hallowell Company of Chicago brought their orchestra including a cello soloist, as well as a cello and violin trio. One cello player pre-dated the construction of the Bank Block in which our opera house is located. That player was E.J. McKay, who played the cello for the dedication of the First Presbyterian church on Jan. 18, 1899. The choir, consisting a double quartet with Prof. McKay's orchestra, rendered some very choice selections.

As a reminder, that the Seattle Shakespeare Company will be here on March 27 with the school's presentation of Romeo and Juliet. Time to be determined.


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