School of Music piano and violin studios combine for Beethoven Festival

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Beethoven Festival 2016

A three-day Beethoven Festival kicks off at the UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music in Edge Recital Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m.

A joint performance series from the studios of School of Music faculty members Levon Ambartsumian and Evgeny Rivkin, the festival comprises performances of 10 sonatas for piano and violin written by the legendary composer. Faculty members and students alike will take to the Edge Hall stage on Feb. 9 and 10 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 12 at 5 p.m.

According to Ambartsumian, Regent's and Franklin Professor of Violin, the seed for this idea was planted a decade ago.

“About 10 years ago, I presented all Beethoven sonatas in three concerts, performed by my violin students with collaboration with our faculty pianist Anatoly Sheludyakov,” said Ambartsumian.

Since then, Ambartsumian had his studio hold several “mini mono-festivals:” performing all Bach’s solo violin sonatas and, twice, Eugène Ysaÿe's six sonatas for solo violin.

Ambartsumian sees particular value in these events, as the composers are essential contributors to the violin repertoire.

“It is impossible to become an accomplished musician (either performer or teacher) without deep knowledge of all those works,” said Ambartsumian.

To that end, Ambartsumian wanted his current students to gain that deep knowledge of the Beethoven piano and violin sonatas, and he thought there might be a unique opportunity to combine that experience with Rivkin, professor of piano at the School of Music and Ambartsumian’s long-time music partner, and his studio.

The only catch was the difficulty of the piano parts. Typically, according to Ambartsumian, these sonatas are not part of a piano studio’s education process; the sonatas are learned once students become professionals, if they are learned at all. So this might have been an unconventional ask of Rivkin and his students.

“His response was more than enthusiastic, since he has quite a few outstanding graduate piano students,” said Ambartsumian.

The pair also decided that in addition to the student performances, they and School of Music violin faculty member Shakhida Azimkhodjaeva would perform two of the sonatas themselves.

Admission is free for all performances, and the public is invited to attend these special engagements.

The UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music sponsors more than 350 performances each year. To view the performance calendar, subscribe to the weekly email concert listing or learn more about the School of Music, go to music.uga.edu.