InConcert Sierra season opener celebrates tickling the ivories |

InConcert Sierra season opener celebrates tickling the ivories

InConcert Sierra’s season opens on Sunday, Oct. 17, as the previous season ended, with a piano recital. It’s a tradition to introduce up-and-coming pianists to the Nevada County audience by tapping into the top prize-winners of the prestigious American Pianists Association.

This year it’s 22-year-old Polish-American Adam Golka, following other remarkable visiting APA winners: Remember Grace Fong, Stephen Beus, Michael Sheppard and Stephen Prutsman?

Golka has performed more than 200 concerts since winning the China Shanghai International Piano Competition in 2003 at age 16.

He has played concertos, chamber music and recitals across the United States as well as in Europe, China and Latin America, and he debuts in Carnegie Hall’s main auditorium next March with Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto.

But Golka is not the only attraction. Through a generous arrangement between historic piano dealer Sherman Clay and InConcert, Golka will be playing a magnificent Steinway Concert Grand. “98 percent of concert pianists play Steinways,” says Zarah Masterson, Sherman Clay’s local manager. “If you could pick only one piano for the wide range of the piano repertoire, it should be a Steinway. It has the dynamics and nuances to create every color of the tonal palette. It’s like driving a Ferrari: You can do things you can’t do on a lesser keyboard.”

Keeping the piano in tip-top condition falls to piano technician Peter Sumner, a lurking presence at all InConcert piano events. It’s Sumner who restored InConcert’s own Grotrian piano, and he will prepare the Steinway after its “cartage” from Sacramento.

Only don’t call him a “piano tuner.” What’s the difference? “It’s the amount of gray hair,” says Sumner. “A piano tech gives the piano in-depth regulation and voicing, sometimes in the heat of battle, plus a rock solid tuning that will last through a pounding performance. With its huge dynamic range and very fast action, it should provide an ideal platform for Golka to explore the world of Chopin,” elaborates Sumner, who has been working on this particular Steinway for over a year.

Which brings us to a third excellent reason for attending: a rich program of the best of classical, romantic and modern. Mozart’s Sonata in F Major K.332; a centerpiece of Frederic Chopin’s 12 Etudes, op. 10, some of the most demanding and expressive pieces in the repertoire; the Piano Fantasy (2008) by esteemed American composer Richard Danielpour, commissioned especially for Golka; and to end, Chopin’s Fantasy in F Minor, op. 49 and the Barcarolle in F-sharp Major, op. 60, a fitting celebration of the bicentenary of Chopin’s birth in 1810.

With the imminent arrival of fall, how better to spend a Sunday afternoon than celebrating the best of pianists and pianos?

Charles Atthill lives in Alta Sierra. Happy Birthday, Frederic! You don’t look a day over 39.

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