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Highlights: Pianist Plays First Upper Valley Concerts

  • Elizabeth Borowsky at her home studio in Lebanon, N.H., on Aug. 8, 2016. (Valley News- Sarah Priestap) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Pianist Elizabeth Borowsky at her home studio in Lebanon, N.H., on Aug. 8, 2016. (Valley News- Sarah Priestap) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A year after moving to the Upper Valley from her home base in Baltimore, pianist Elizabeth Borowsky is preparing to fully introduce herself to her neighbors as a performer.

“My goal this year is to feel more grounded in this community,” Borowsky said during an interview at her Piano Prodigies studio in Lebanon on Monday. “Music is about living. Music is about community relationships.”

Toward that end, Borowsky, who is tutoring 15 students, joins former Dartmouth College music professor and Classicopia co-founder Daniel Weiser and her mother, cellist Cecylia Barczyk, for three chamber concerts on the theme of “Russian Rhapsody.” And in September at Dartmouth’s Faulkner Recital Hall, Borowsky and her mother will tune up for a tour of Poland by collaborating on a recital of works by Le Beau, Bonis, Chaminade, Chopin, Barber and Piazzola.

The Classicopia marathon begins Friday night at First Congregational Church in Lebanon, continues Saturday with a house concert in Hanover and concludes Sunday afternoon with a performance at ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret. In addition to performing Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata with Barczyk, Weiser will join Borowsky at the keyboard for several four-hand piano pieces by Sergei Bortkiewicz.

“I love what they do,” Borowsky said of Classicopia. “The energy that Dan brings into the series is fabulous. … This is so much fun for me.”

It’s also a way of returning a favor: Before she and her husband, Robert LeBlanc, relocated, Borowsky hunted around Baltimore for teachers for the 30 budding pianists to whom she was bidding what she called “a difficult goodbye.”

“Fortunately, she gave me some of her best students,” Weiser, who now lives in Baltimore, recalled last week. “They are all impeccably trained with a real love for music and good technique.”

Borowsky spent much of her first year here balancing that dedication to her students and her time with her husband, a pathologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, with a string of performances and musical-ambassorial trips to Cuba and Lithuania and other far-flung locations.

“I got off to a busier start than I expected,” Borowsky said of her teaching schedule. “When I’m away, we do some creative things. I’m still figuring out how to juggle.”

Borowsky and LeBlanc, a New England native, started looking for communities in which to juggle those obligations after LeBlanc completed a fellowship in dermatopathology at Stanford University Medical Center in 2015. While considering an offer from DHMC, the couple visited the Upper Valley and saw a lot to like, including the presence of Dartmouth College and its cultural offerings and the proximity to the White and Green mountains.

Then they stopped in at the Co-op Food Store at Centerra in Lebanon.

“That was a selling point, when I saw all the bread and Vermont cheeses,” Borowsky recalled. “And there were farmers markets all over. The more we looked, the more we saw that it was an easy fit.”

Borowsky’s life revolved around music from the start. Her mother teaches cello at Towson University in Maryland in addition to performing around the world, while her father Charles Borowsky, a former sociologist, now presides over a bureau representing performing artists.

The eldest of their three children, Elizabeth took up the piano as a 4-year-old, and by age 7 was playing recitals in Baltimore. At 9, she began performing around eastern and central Europe, from which her father had emigrated during the Cold War.

When she turned 18, Borowsky’s parents offered her a choice: a car, or her first Steinway.

“It wasn’t a hard call,” Borowsky, now 32, said while walking around the instrument in her studio. “I got something with three wheels.”

As Borowsky and her younger siblings Emmanuel (a violinist) and Frances (a cellist) grew up, they played concerts together as The Young American Virtuosi. By 2004, they were playing Carnegie Hall after winning an Erick Friedman Prize for Outstanding Young Musicians. And in the events leading up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, they performed concerts under the theme of “One World, One Dream, One Family.”

“They all compose music as well,” Weiser said. “They’re truly an exceptional family who also run a music camp near Baltimore.”

Recently back from that camp, Borowsky began gearing up for this weekend’s Classicopia concerts, particularly the four-hand collaboration with Weiser on the Bortkiewicz pieces, on which they had only a couple of chances to rehearse together in person in Baltimore.

“Personality-wise, we work well together,” Borowsky said. “We both love performing. The choreography’s going to be the tricky part.”

Weiser isn’t worried.

“She’s an exciting performer who clearly feels the music in her soul and is a great communicator to the audiences,” Weiser said. “She attacks the piano with zest, but is also able to get incredibly quiet sounds that produce a magical sonic atmosphere.”

Pianist Elizabeth Borowsky and cellist Cecylia Barczyk join pianist Daniel Weiser for three performances of Russian and Slavic chamber music this weekend. The series opens Friday night with a 7:30 recital at Lebanon’s First Congregational Church; adult admission is $10 for church members and $20 for others. At classicopia.org, reservations can be made for tickets ($40 a person) to a house concert that will take place in Hanover on Saturday night at 7:30. The series concludes Sunday afternoon at 4 at the ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret, where adult admission at the door is $20. For discount tickets to the Friday or the Sunday concert, visit classicopia.org.

Best Bets

The Hopkins Center offers a free screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover tonight at 6:30. The 1971 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory stars Gene Wilder as the factory owner, in an incarnation far less creepy than Johnny Depp’s depiction in the 2005 version directed by Tim Burton.

During the Taste of Woodstock Festival on Elm Street on Saturday, the musical buffet starts with singer-songwriter Chris Powers at 10 a.m. and continues by the hour with performances by Off the Rails, Sensible Shoes, The Four Horsemen, Woody Thompson, Brian Warren, the ArtisTree Trio, bluesman Arthur James and ToasT. For more information about the festival, visit woodstockvt.com.

∎ The Old Church Theater in Bradford presents William Fray’s adaptation of The Secret Garden over the next two weekends. The show runs Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 and on Sunday afternoon at 4, and the production concludes on Aug. 21. For tickets ($6 to $12) and more information, visit oldchurchtheater.org or call 802-222-3322.

The six acrobatic showmen of Circus Zambia perform the final show of their U.S. tour on the Norwich Green at 3 on Saturday afternoon. For more information, visit facebook.com/circuszambia.

Starting Tuesday night at Woodstock’s Norman Williams Public Library, Michael Barnhart, artistic director of the Raw Shakespeare Company, leads three weekly discussions of passages from works of The Bard. The presentations, each starting at 6 at the library’s mezzanine level, will focus, respectively, on scenes from Troilus and Cressida, Hamlet and Richard III. Subsequent discussions are scheduled for Aug. 22 and 29. Admission is free. For more information, visit normanwilliams.org or call 802-457-2295.

Looking Ahead

Pianist Andreas Klein will perform works of Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and Brahms next Thursday night at 7:30 at the First Baptist Church of New London. For tickets ($5 to $25), call 603-526-8234, or visit summermusicassociates.com.

Theater/Performance Art

New London Barn Playhouse unveils its revival of the Gershwin-infused Crazy for You over the coming week with performances at 7:30 tonight and Friday and Saturday nights, Sunday afternoon at 5, Tuesday night at 7:30, Wednesday afternoon at 2 and Wednesday night at 7:30. For tickets ($20 to $29) and more information, visit nlbarn.org or call 603-526-6710.

Opera North completes its 2016 season at the Lebanon Opera House with performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita (tonight and Saturday nights at 7:30) and Puccini’s Tosca (Friday night at 7:30). For tickets and more information, visit operanorth.org.

∎ The Parish Players hold auditions this morning at 10 and on Monday night at 7 for their mid-autumn staging of Anthony Shaffer’s thriller Sleuth at the Eclipse Grange Theatre on Thetford Hill. The producers will be auditioning men between their late 20s and age 50 for the cast, which will start rehearsals in mid-September. For more information, call Barbara Payson at 802-785-2727.

The New York Theatre Workshop presents two more works-in-progress at Dartmouth College’s Warner Bentley Theater this Saturday. At 4 in the afternoon, Daphne Rubin-Vega performs Frequently Unanswered Questions (form acronym at your own risk), her one-woman examination of her roller-coaster life since her family moved to New York from Panama when she was 3. And at 7:30, workshop performers stage Clare Barron’s Dirty Crusty, a ballet-themed slice of life. For tickets ($6.50 to $13) and more information, including plays that the workshop team will perform on Aug. 20, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Music

Singer-songwriter Kerry Rosenthal performs at the Lebanon Farmers Market on Colburn Park this afternoon between 4 and 7.

Haywire plays bluegrass at the Feast and Field Market in Barnard tonight from 5:30 to 7:30.

Billy Wylder casts world-beat, art-rock and Americana sounds across Colburn Park in Lebanon tonight at 7.

The Granite State Stompers perform on the Mary Haddad Memorial Bandstand in New London on Friday night at 6:30.

Mike Agranoff and The Coffeehouse of the Absurd perform at the Harbor House Livery in Sunapee Harbor on Friday night at 7. The suggested donation is $15 .

Seven-time Grammy-winning guitarist songwriter and storyteller Leo Kottke plays at the Flying Monkey Performance Center in Plymouth, N.H., on Friday night at 7:30. To reserve tickets ($29 to $39) and learn more, visit flyingmonkeynh.com or call 603-536-2551.

Sensible Shoes perform at 5 on Saturday afternoon at Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover, during Child and Family Services of NH’s annual Camp Out for the Cause benefiting efforts to prevent child abuse in the Upper Valley. For more information about the gathering, visit cfsnh.org.

Next up in the Summer Street Music Series in Bradford, Tim Brick performs country-infused rock on Saturday night at 7, in a house concert at 30 Summer St.

Cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park performs works of Dvorak, Mendelssohn and more on Sunday afternoon at 2, during the weekly concert in the Little Studio of the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish. Admission is included in the $7 entry fee to the park.

The Pulse plays rock and R&B on the Newport Town Common on Sunday night at 6.

Sunday night at 7:30 at the Grange Hall in Bridgewater, a teen ensemble from the Village Harmony program performs songs from South Africa, the Balkans, the nation of Georgia, the American shape-note canon and the Renaissance. Admission is $5 to $15. For more information, visit villageharmony.org.

Bill Sharp’s Dixieland Band performs at Colburn Park in Lebanon on Monday night at 7.

Wednesday night at 6:30, the Beatles tribute band Studio Two commands the Ben Mere Bandstand overlooking Sunapee Harbor.

The Occasional Jug Band plays at Lyman Point Park in White River Junction on Wednesday night at 6:30.

Film

Court Street Arts continues its series of free movie screening on Friday night with Mamma Mia, the film adaptation of the hit musical, with the likes of Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Amanda Seyfried singing most of the 1970s hits of ABBA while untangling a wild array of relationships on a Greek island. The lights go down at 6:30.

Bar and Club Circuit

Guitarist Billy Rosen plays jazz at the Canoe Club in Hanover, twice over the coming week, starting with a solo show tonight at 6:30 and returning on Sunday night at 6:30 in company with singer-pianist-guitarist Susan Brison and singer Gabe Brison-Trezise. Also performing shows between 6:30 and 9:30 are jazz singer Rowley Hazard on Friday, pianist Randall Mullen on Saturday and guitarists Ed Eastridge and Rachel Fickes on Wednesday.

Jim Yeager performs at the Boho Cafe in downtown White River Junction tonight between 7 and 10, followed Friday night at 7:30 by a set of funky dance music from the T.C.F.B band.

Wild Earp and the Free for Alls pull into Windsor Station with a country-western sound tonight at 7. Following them over the next week are the Americana, roots and bluegrass ensemble Cold Chocolate on Friday night at 9:30, Grundlefunk on Saturday night at 10, and singer-guitarist Andy Lugo of Dirty Boost on Tuesday night at 6.

John Paul O’Connor plays his mix of folk, urban and country music at Bentley’s restaurant in Woodstock tonight at 8, followed on Friday night at 9 by the Gully Boys.

Carlos Ocasio rocks the tavern at Jesse’s in Hanover on Friday night starting at 5.

The Chris Kleeman Blues Band performs at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners on Friday night at 8.

The weekend lineups at the Upper Valley’s Salt hill Pubs feature singer-guitarist Michael Spaulding in Lebanon, the John Lackard Blues Trio in Hanover and the Conniption Fits in Newport on Friday night. Stepping to the microphone on Saturday night are singer-songwriter Andrew Merzi in Newport and the Better Days Band with a dose of classic rock, blues and funk.

Open Mics

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

String players of all ages and abilities are welcome at the weekly acoustic jam session at South Royalton’s BALE Commons on Friday night from 6:30 to 10.

Joe Stallsmith leads a weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass at Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Monday nights at 6.

Bradford’s Colatina Exit holds an open mic on Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon runs an open mic on Tuesday nights at 8.

Jim Yeager hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, at 8:30 on Wednesday nights.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com or 603-727-3304.