Lexington Piano Trio to perform 3 centuries of piano trios

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barbara_trioArash_trio-resizedPhotograph © Beowulf Sheehan www.beowulfsheehan.com

On Saturday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m., the Lexington Piano Trio will perform various musical pieces, spanning across three centuries, for a night of lively and heart-tugging traditional performances.

Musica Reginae’s Executive and Artistic Director, Barbara Podgurski, will perform on the piano along with Cyrus Beroukhim, violinist, and Arash Amini, cellist. Together, strenuous standards such as Beethoven’s “Ghost,” Piano Trio in D major, Op. 70, No. 1 — one of Beethoven’s most famous pieces — and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor trio, Op. 67, will be relived amongst the crowd at The Church-in-the-Gardens, 50 Ascan Avenue, in Forest Hills.

Shostakovich composed this particular musical piece in the midst of World War II. His 1944 work is actually a response piece to finding out about the monstrosities that were going on during the Holocaust, particularly the tragic events that occurred at the Auschwitz camp in Poland. Nearly everything had been kept a secret from the world for a while, and as the world came to understand the genocide, Shostakovich wrote the piece to express the rollercoaster of emotion he experienced.

“A lot of people couldn’t phantom what Aushwitz was,” Podgurski, a Maspeth resident, said. “When Shostakovich saw the camp and it was confirmed to be true, he had such a reaction of horror. You can’t listen to [the composition] without bursting into tears.”

Podgurski explained that there were several movements — andante, allegro con brio, largo and allegretto — within the piece that allows it to almost be akin to a painting. Within the composition, there’s a foreground, a background, a frame and what’s actually going on in the content. The piece covers a fast, frenzied movement, indicative of the events and emotions of people seeing the signs saying “Work will set you free” in the camps, then the third movement expresses the feeling of when the victims realized they weren’t going to leave the camp. The fourth movement starts slow and features a Jewish-style melody. According to Podgurski, it’s the most emotional part of the piece because it’s when the victims realized that the digging they were doing was actually done as a way to provide a mass grave.

“It was one of the most gorgeous pieces ever written for piano and you don’t get to hear it often,” she said.

For a more contemporary sound, the Trio will also perform Shiraz for Piano Trio, which was composed by Juilliard professor and Iranian composer Behzad Ranjbaran. Ranjbaran will also be in attendance at the concert and will speak about his composition and Persian influences. Shiraz focuses on a beautiful, magical place in Iran where people go for cultural and artistic inspiration. It also hones in on thoughts and prayer gatherings in Southern Iran.

“It’s very poetic and beautiful, but modern,” Podgurski said. “The language of it is very accessible; it’s Persian, it’s melodic and lyrical.”

After the performance, there is a meet and greet with the musicians. It’s a great way to network as well as discuss pieces with the performers.

In general, Musica Reginae is an accessible group for musicians because they do not put a lot of restrictions on choosing a program. If musicians are interested in a particular piece or style, they are typically allowed to try it out with a Musica Reginae performance in front of an intimate crowd.

Musica Reginae also does a number of awe-inspiring performances for the community. For instance, they helped to coordinate and perform music for the September 11th memorial for the past 13 to 14 years. When the Pope visited New York, Musica Reginae also performed as a string quartet at an interfaith ceremony where the Pope and the heads of most religions were in attendance.

In the future, Musica Reginae also hopes to branch out more and become accessible to the various communities living around Forest Hills and the borough. Although most of their performances are at The Church-in-the-Gardens, the organization does classify their works as “fine pieces.” In addition to chamber music, they also perform “fine” contemporary music, like Shiraz. For Halloween, there might be a performance with the orchestra entitled “Hollywood Halloween.” The orchestra will play along to three Halloween-inspired silent films.

Lastly, if there any community members who are interested in volunteering or becoming a part of the board, Musica Reginae is always on the lookout for volunteers.

For more information on the concert and volunteering, visit www.musicareginae.org.

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