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Jan 6, 2015

Violist Hoffman performs recital in Gunter Theatre

January 6, 2015

Paul Hyde, [email protected] 12 a.m. EST January 2, 2015

Violist Miles Hoffman believes that some classical music pieces should include a warning label:

"Don't try this at home."

He's only half-joking.

Composers throughout the ages have enjoyed challenging the technique of virtuosos.

That's the case with all of the composers represented on the program Hoffman will perform Thursday with pianist Reiko Uchida at the Peace Center's intimate Gunter Theatre.

Take, for instance, the "Duo III for Viola and Piano," written in 1994 by American composer Seymour Barab (1921-2014).

Though breezy on the surface, the piece offers considerable demands for the performers.

"It's very witty and light-hearted and very difficult to play, but a lot of fun, too," Hoffman said.

Hoffman's recital will also feature works by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Frank Bridge, Paul Hindemith and Franz Schubert.

"I think the audience is going to discover some repertoire that they haven't heard before but that they'll really enjoy," Hoffman said.

Hoffman is a familiar presence in the Upstate music community through his annual concerts with the American Chamber Players at the Temple of Israel's Music on Sunday Series.

A professor at Converse College's Petrie School of Music, Hoffman also is music commentator for National Public Radio's flagship news program, "Morning Edition" and hosts the national radio broadcasts of "Chamber Music From the Spoleto Festival USA."

His "A Minute With Miles," meanwhile, is a daily feature of SCETV Radio.

Uchida, a music professor at New York's Columbia University, is an internationally renowned pianist.

"Reiko is an absolutely fabulous pianist and wonderful colleague," Hoffman said. "We've been playing for years in recitals and she's been a guest artist for the American Chamber Players. With her, it's always music-making at the highest level."

Hoffman's recital opens with Hummel's "Fantasy for Viola and Piano" (1820), which includes a riff on an aria ("O Mio Tesoro") from Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni."

"Hummel knew from whom to steal," Hoffman quipped.

The recital also features earlier works by English composer Frank Bridge and German composer Paul Hindemith.

Hindemith, a viola player himself, based his "Sonata for Viola and Piano" on folk tunes.

"This is very lyrical Hindemith," Hoffman said.

Schubert's "Sonata in A Minor for Viola and Piano" serves as the most familiar work on the program.

Hoffman said he's particularly excited to return to the Peace Center's Gunter Theatre, with its ideal acoustics for chamber music.

"It's a really nice theater, an excellent chamber music hall," Hoffman said. "I love playing the Gunter."

For the latest in local arts news and reviews, follow Paul Hyde on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.