Do Savannnah

Savannah Friends of Music concert features married duo’s international music

  • Violinist Solomia Soroka and pianist Arthur Greene
 

Savannah Friends of Music concert features married duo’s international music

18 Apr 2017

You don’t often find two musicians who are as passionate about each other as they are about the music.

“A Bridge Across the Atlantic: Eastern, European and American Classics” will be presented April 23 at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church. The concert will be performed by violinist Solomia Soroka and pianist Arthur Greene, who happen to be married.

Soroka, who is Ukrainian, made her solo debut at the age of 10 with the L’viv Philharmonic Orchestra. Music has taken her literally around the world to perform with orchestras, as a chamber musician and a soloist.

With her husband, Soroka has toured and recorded extensively. Their Naxos recording of “Four Violin Sonatas” by William Bolcom was selected as a Recording of the Month with the highest ranking for both artistry and sound quality by Classics Today.

A violin professor at Goshen College in Indiana, Soroka also is on the faculty of the Castleman Quartet Program and the Schlern Music Festival.

Greene was born in New York and grew up in Sheffield, Mass. He went to Yale University, followed by Juilliard.

Today, Greene teaches at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In the summer, the couple lives in her hometown of L’viv, Ukraine.

The two met when Greene was in Ukraine to play with the national symphony.

“She was given the task of taking care of me,” he says. “She was already living in the United States as a student at Eastman in the doctoral program and was in Ukraine on vacation.

“I was in Kiev and she took me to her hometown. We found it was easy for us to play music together.

“We don’t have normal rehearsals where people argue,” Greene says. “We just play naturally.”

The upcoming concert is sponsored by the Savannah Friends of Music.

“In Savannah, I’m playing the first half by myself,” Greene says. “There are a few short pieces at the beginning I put on because they’re beautiful and I love to play them.”

Following the intermission, Soroka will join Greene to perform.

“Over the course of my career, I’ve developed an interest in good music that is not often performed,” Soroka says. “I’ll be playing ‘Suite for violin and piano’ by composer William Grant Still. It’s a very interesting piece based on pieces of art that inspired him.

“We’ll do five pieces from Gershwin’s ‘Porgy and Bess’ and two Ukrainian pieces from our recent CDs. We’ve been recording with Toccata, which specializes in music that hasn’t been recorded before.

“We’ll do a piece by Stankovych, the most famous Ukrainian composer,” Soroka says. “We’ll do a piece by Lysenko, who is considered the father of Ukrainian classical music. These pieces are substantial and deep and satisfying, and we’re very excited to present them to a Savannah audience.”

The couple loves Savannah.

“I’ve been to Savannah three times and Arthur once,” Soroka says. “I just performed there in February.

“We really loved Savannah and loved the historic district. People there are very intelligent, very cultural and there are also a lot of tourists who enjoy music.”

Greene started playing piano at 6, and Soroka started violin at 6 — after already studying piano.

“In Ukraine, it is considered almost late at 6,” she says.

“For most people in our situation, music is all we’ve ever done,” Greene says. “For me, it’s a bit unusual in that I grew up in an environment where I never thought about what I’d do in the future. I was always taking piano lessons, but I didn’t settle on that as a career until college.”

“In my family, there were no musicians,” Soroka says. “Originally, my parents, especially my mother, wanted me to have a secondary musical education so I could play at parties and weddings.

“By accident, I started playing violin,” she says. “We were tricked in order to get into music school as my father was told and told I should play violin because I had a good ear. Later, I found out too many had applied to study piano.”

At first, Soroka hated practicing.

“Now I love to practice,” she says. “I’d come home from school and practice four to six hours and never considered anything else.

“We are very excited to perform in Savannah in a beautiful church,” Soroka says. “We usually give commentary before each piece. We are delighted to present our program.”

IF YOU GO

What: “A Bridge Across the Atlantic: Eastern, European and American Classics”

When: 3 p.m. April 23

Where: Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church, 429 Abercorn St.

Cost: $35 adults, $10 students

Info: savannahfriendsofmusic.com

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