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Concert pianist has students in mind

When May Ling Kwok designs a recital program for Place des Arts, where the Victoria pianist has played half a dozen times, she has two aims: to please the audience and to educate young musicians at the Coquitlam facility.

When May Ling Kwok designs a recital program for Place des Arts, where the Victoria pianist has played half a dozen times, she has two aims: to please the audience and to educate young musicians at the Coquitlam facility.

Kwok makes a weekend of her trip across the pond, holding a master class as well as a solo concert geared for the students she taught earlier that day.

"The whole point is to introduce them to different works," she said of her program. "Before I play, I talk about each piece so they can have an educational and musical experience."

The Hong Kong-born pianist is used to teaching about music: Kwok (B. Mus., UVic; M.M, Indiana) is on the faculty at the University of Victoria and the Victoria Conservatory of Music.

And she is just as well known as an adjudicator and a performer, having played with the Montreal Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, Moscow Philharmonic, Vladivostok Symphony Orchestra, Slovakia Radio Orchestra and Czech National Symphony, to name a few.

For her Coquitlam show on Saturday, she'll combine Classical with Romantic, starting with Mozart's Sonata in D-major followed by Haydn's Sonata in E-flat major, the last of his piano sonatas that is widely considered his greatest.

Kwok will end the first segment of the show with Chopin's Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor, Opus 31 - a piece that Schumann compared to a Byronic poem.

To ease into the second half, Kwok will play the slow Baccarat by Chopin before launching into one of Liszt's most technically challenging works, The Dante Sonata, an 18-minute piece inspired by Danta Alighieri's most famous epic poem, The Divine Comedy.

"It's a very dramatic piece," she said. "The music talks about heaven and hell, purgatory, the devil. It's certainly the longest piece [of the program] and it has an exciting finish."

Liszt, she said, tends to "convey his musical aspirations through a symphonic means on the piano."

Besides teaching and performing, Kwok has a full schedule planned this year with a summer tour in Europe, solo recordings in the fall and, next year, a Beethoven series with The McPherson Trio, a chamber group she founded.

The trio will tour B.C. and Alberta, starting off, of course, in her hometown of Victoria.

Tickets at $13.50/$11 for the May Ling Kwok piano recital are available by calling Place des Arts (1120 Brunette Ave.) at 604-664-1636.

The March 12 show starts at 7:30 p.m.

jwarren@tricitynews.com