A delightful evening of contemporary piano music

A delightful evening of contemporary piano music
Hillary Demske takes the audience on an emotional journey across the piano keys. Trent Bates/ UVU Review

Hillary Demske takes the audience on an emotional journey across the piano keys. Trent Bates/ UVU Review

Hilary Demske’s fingers danced gracefully across the keys, in a shining performance at her piano recital on Feb. 1 at the Ragan theatre.

A Texas native, Demske has a Doctorate in Performing Arts from the University of Michigan and was also schooled at other prominent institutions such as The Juilliard School and The Peabody Conservatory of Music. She is also the first prize winner of the Citta di Barletta International Piano Competition.

Demske used many complicated techniques to demonstrate her passion to the audience. Conveying many emotions throughout the recital, Demske struck the keys with great conviction.The precision of her fingers was incredible and her intense concentration could not be broken.

“I enjoy playing contemporary music because it stretches my mind as a performer and listener. There is always something new to discover, something that changes the larger meaning of the phrase or gesture. I love getting inside the unusual harmonies and finding my way out musically,” Demske said.

The program consisted of  a three-part piece by George Tsontakis entitled “Ghost Variations” and “Sonata No. 4” by Henry Martin.

“I chose this program because it features two completely different approaches to modern music. Tsontakis and Martin are the same age, yet capture very different moods and textures. It is a great microcosm of the larger contemporary scene,” Demske said.

In the first portion of “Ad libitum,” Demske used sharp riveting movements through which she faithfully portrayed the languid mood of the piece.

In “Scherzo,” the second ghost variation, Demske switched gears, creating a suspenseful painting of someone on the edge of danger and only narrowly escaping.

Yet Martin’s sonata told quite a different tale from Tsontakis. The audience was taken on an emotional journey up and down the keyboard.

As the recital concluded, everyone clapped and cheered, offering their seal of approval. For those who want to hear more, or were unable to attend, there’s no need to worry.

“I have an upcoming CD on Albany Records that includes the Martin sonata, and I am playing the Tsontakis in New York for the composer later in February,” Demske said.

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