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Corthell Concert Hall, University of Southern Maine

Corthell Concert Hall, University of Southern Maine, 37 College Ave., Gorham, ME 04038


$15 adults, $10 seniors and USM alumni, $5 students.



Laura Kargul, pianist in concert: composers on the edge

Laura Kargul, internationally acclaimed pianist and music professor at the University of Southern Maine School of Music will give a solo recital titled “Composers on the Edge” at Corthell Concert Hall at USM in Gorham on Friday, October 21 at 8 p.m.

The concert is sponsored by Dr. Dahlia and Arthur L. Handman.

The program, featuring works by J.S. Bach, Schumann, and Ravel, was inspired by Kargul’s belief that deeply held emotions have given rise to some of the most wrenching musical masterpieces. “This phenomenon is noted most often among works written by nineteenth century romantic composers, but it spans all periods of classical music,” says Kargul.

She will open her program with the Sonata in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 11 by Robert Schumann. “A state of intense longing and despair inspired this remarkable testament to obsessive love,” says Kargul. “The father of Schumann’s beloved, the great pianist and composer Clara Wieck, would not allow the two to see or communicate with each other. Robert was half out of his mind, not knowing whether Clara even still loved him. The only way for him to communicate his feelings to her was through music. Borrowing themes from a piece she had written earlier he gave himself over to this torrent of all-consuming passion.”

Kargul will open the second half of the program with another rarely performed work, written by Bach when he was just 19, Capriccio on the Departure of His Beloved Brother. “This piece allows an explicit view into Bach’s emotional world, something we don’t usually find among his keyboard works,” says Kargul. “The story goes that his brother was leaving Germany for position in Sweden, and Bach knew he would probably never see him again. The work is a direct expression of grief and resignation, made obvious by the titles of the movements, such as ‘The lamentations of his friends.’ This is a remarkable work for its time.”

The concert will conclude with Ravel’s La Valse, a virtuosic showpiece depicting late 19th century Viennese decadence. Kargul calls it one of the most difficult works written for piano, not only for its technical challenges but also for the emotional commitment demanded from the performer: “It’s essentially a 15 minute run-up to one of the wildest, most over-the-top climaxes in the history of classical music, leaving the listener both exhilarated and exhausted by the experience.”

Kargul has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician, adjudicator and master teacher throughout Europe and the USA, as well as in Canada and the West Indies. She has been greeted with critical acclaim in venues such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Schleswig-Holstein and Nordhessen Music Festivals in Germany, the Opera Theater and Music Festival of Lucca in Italy and the Evian Music Festival in France. She is a popular lecturer and locally she is frequently featured on the Portland Ovations Pre-Performance Lecture Series. Her informative comments from the stage have become a trademark of her performances.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and USM alumni, and $5 for students. Purchase tickets online at, or by calling 207-780-5555.

Members of the press and those needing special accommodations to participate fully in this program, contact Lori Arsenault, (207) 780-5142, Hearing impaired: call USM’s telex / TDD number (207) 780-5646.