Shepherd University alumni and award-winning pianist Jason Solounias returned to campus Thursday night to perform the opening concert of the 2018 Salon Series.
“I’ve been looking forward to doing this for a long time and I’m very happy to have gotten the chance to do it,” said Solounias, who earned an MA in music and Phd in musical arts from the Catholic University of America.
He opened his concert with Ballades Op. 10, written by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), a beautiful and moving piece from start to finish. Solounias’ performance was passionate and flawless.
Following that, Solounias introduced his next piece which was Sonata Op. 109 in E Major by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). This was the last sonata Beethoven ever wrote and is a triptych piece quite different from much of Beethoven’s other work. Solounias described it as a war between the fantasy of the first movement and the stormy nature of the second movement that we expect from Beethoven while the last movement is a resignation knowing that this is his last.
After a brief intermission Soulounias came back and played two more pieces, Images Premier Livre by Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4 by Heitor Villa Lobos (1887-1959), a Brazilian composer who drew inspiration from Brazilian folk music as well as the music of the time.
“I wanted a variety. I wanted one half to sort of complement each other,” Solounias said. He certainly delivered on this. His performance was truly captivating as you could see and hear his passion for what he does. “Every day I get to wake up and think about the things I’m fascinated with,” he said.
After his performance he received a standing ovation and came back for an encore in which he played Cuban Dances by Ignacio Cervantes (1847-1905), which was a much more playful yet no less beautiful song.
It was an amazing performance from start to finish. In the 2017-2018 season Solounias is scheduled to record his first commercial album of the music of Heitor Villa-Lobos.
“I had a professor turn me on to Latin American music and this composer really speaks to me,” he said. The recording will be released by an Italian record label, the Sheva Collection.