Special to the Record
The Sid Williams Theatre piano will get quite a workout when Sarah Hagen hosts the next Mattina Musica concert on March 9, part of the Sid Williams Theatre Society’s Blue Circle Series.
The Comox Valley-raised pianist will welcome Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann, known professionally as the Bergmann Piano Duo.
“We’re going to play on only the one piano,” Hagen said of herself and her two guests. “The piano at the Sid might just dissolve into a puddle,” she joked.
They will open with a piece composed by Marcel Bergmann for one hand.
“Then I’ll play something with both my hands. We’ll all play with one hand each, all the way up to Rachmaninoff for six hands.”
Rehearsal time is an issue that will be partly resolved when the three touring pianists converge the day before the concert.
The 20-minute Variations by Brahms will allow the Bergmanns to show what they can do.
“They’re one of the most outstanding and remarkable piano duos internationally. For people to have the opportunity to hear four hands, I think it’s going to be really special.”
Pianists, Hagen revealed, enjoy playing duets.
“It’s kind of a solitary instrument, but when people really play duets and really think alike and have played together for so many years, that’s a whole other experience.”
The series, whose Italian name means morning music, is going “better than I ever hoped,” Hagen said. “People are happy and the audience is continually growing. I’ve been really happy with the quality of the artists.”
Hagen loves being able to program musicians she respects and wants to play with.
“I’m living the dream. I get to play with the people I choose. I really handpick them. I always have this list of people in my mind.
“I’m starting to look at next season. It’s a question of juggling people, finding the balance between instruments and personalities.”
Hagen must be patient and deal with musicians’ busy and far-flung schedules.
“There are some people I ask and they want to be on, but they can’t because of their schedules, which is the only time I’m ever disappointed, but I hope they can come the next year.”
Although she moved to Vancouver in 2011, Hagen returns to the Comox Valley at least five times per season to perform Mattina Musica concerts. How does playing here compare to the many other places, including Carnegie Hall, where she has performed?
“I think I can tell more inside jokes,” she chuckled.
“It sounds kind of corny, but my mom’s there,” she continued. “My piano teacher comes to every concert.”
The Mattina series has spread to other communities, she noted. After four years of playing regularly in Nanaimo, Hagen said it’s developing a hometown feel.
The itinerary on Hagen’s website includes a staggering list of performances.
“Just since the new year, I flew back from a holiday in Europe, I stopped in Toronto on the way, I was on the Island, went to Halifax, Labrador, came back for a day, went to the Island, went to Edmonton, came back yesterday and tomorrow I’m taking the float plane to Victoria.
“That’s a pretty typical couple of weeks for me. I don’t really think about it much anymore.
I was listening to Natalie MacMaster speak in Halifax and she said when you’re doing what you love, you don’t tire of it.”
When asked if she ever awakens and isn’t sure what town she’s in, Hagen laughed. “Almost every day.”
The next Mattina Musica (Morning Music) concerts happens March 9. Music lovers are welcome to meet in the Sid Williams Theatre lobby at 9:45 a.m. for tea, coffee and conversation before the 10:30 a.m. concert.
For more information, visit http://sarahhagen.com and HYPERLINK “http://www.sidwilliamstheatre.com” www.sidwilliamstheatre.com, phone 250-338-2430 or visit the Sid box office at 442 Cliffe Ave. in Courtenay.
Mark Allan is a freelance writer and a former editor of the Comox Valley Record.