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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dartmouth mainstay Pinkas readies tribute to Schumann, Loeffler

On Tuesday at 7 p.m., a sound familiar to many of Dartmouth's music students will fill Spaulding Auditorium, as Dartmouth's resident pianist Sally Pinkas will perform her autumn recital along with guest musicians Steve Larson on viola and Thomas Gallant on oboe.

Erma Gattie Mellinger, a member of Dartmouth's music faculty, was scheduled to lend her vocals to the concert, but unfortunately had to drop out due to a lingering illness.

Pinkas has taught piano and chamber-music classes at Dartmouth since 1985; in the upcoming spring term, she plans on taking a group of Dartmouth students to London for the foreign study program in music. Pinkas does not limit her teaching contributions to the Dartmouth community; she is also a faculty member at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass. She holds a Ph.D. in Composition and Theory from Brandeis University and used to write many of her own pieces.

As the Hopkins Center's pianist-in-residence, Pinkas performs two to three concerts each year. "Being pianist-in-residence entails presenting a number of concerts each year," she explained. "Naturally, I try not to repeat works, which suits me greatly as I love to learn new material. It is a great challenge for me, to keep up a certain standard so that people don't get tired of coming to hear me!

"This [concert] is dedicated to chamber music by Robert Schumann and Charles Loeffler," she continued. "It has some interesting instrumental combinations -- oboe, viola and piano, or soprano, viola and piano. It's unusual."

The songs on the program were chosen by Pinkas because she believes these works are hidden gems in the chamber-music world. "Schumann is known as one of the most prolific writers of solo piano music," she said. "His chamber music contribution is less known, though of equal significance."

After playing a solo recital of Schumann's works last year, Pinkas decided to perform his works again, except with the accompaniment of other instruments this time around. In fact, she is currently in the process of forming a new music trio called The Ensemble Schumann with Gallant and Larsen.

Pinkas' contribution to the Dartmouth music community is just one facet of a very busy artistic career. Not limiting herself to just Hanover, she actually performs roughly 25 to 30 concerts each year, many with husband and fellow pianist Evan Hirsch. Her performances have brought her recognition throughout the world, as she has performed with such renowned acts as the Boston Pops and the Jupiter Symphony, and in places as varied as Africa, her native Israel and other areas in Europe.

The Hirsch-Pinkas duo will perform a recital of French music this December in Rome at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia, and will later travel to Bulgaria in March to perform contemporary American works at the Pianissimo Festival in Sofia. Pinkas was also asked last spring to judge an international piano competition in Germany.

As an artist-in-residence, one of Pinkas' favorite parts of the job is connecting with students on a more personal level other than just during a concert.

"As part of my residency, I play before each concert in one of the dorms or in a community outreach event," she elucidated. "That is a wonderful way of extending to the community of students and Hanover residents what the Hopkins Center does."

Tuesday's concert will be the first opportunity of the school year for students to experience the incredible talent of Pinkas and her fellow musicians.