You know what they say – “To play a big piano, you need a big pianist.” Actually, nobody has ever said that (until now) but they probably should with the arrival of pianist Jura Margulis at the Petaluma Historical Library and Museum.
The Russian-born, German-raised, virtuoso will perform Saturday, May 14, in a concert co-sponsored by the Petaluma Museum Association and the Sky Hill Cultural Alliance, which has presented baroque, classical, and romantic concert programs throughout the North Bay since 1985.
“It turns out that I happen to have a nine-foot concert grand,” says Elizabeth Walter, the alliance’s founder and president of the Boston-made Henry F. Miller grand piano she inherited and stows at the museum to everyone’s delight.
The piano is five years older than the museum itself if we’re to believe its cornerstone which was laid in 1904 when the joint was still a Carnegie Library. If the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie knew one of his namesake libraries was now a part-time concert hall, he might well spin in his grave – but only because he’s dancing.
“It’s quite a phenomenal piano,” says Walter. “It’s a big piano. It can be almost too big for the museum, but not really when there’s a bunch of people in there. But it’s a big piano,” she emphasizes.
Margulis has successfully conquered the apparent behemoth before, having played other concerts on it the past nine years.
“He’s is a very powerful, strong, phenomenal pianist,” says Walter. “He loves it. He loves playing on it and I love hearing him play on it.”
Walter isn’t the only fan of Margulis’ piano wrangling talent. He’s made orchestral appearances with the Russian National Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and the Prague Symphony Orchestra among other high profile gigs. Margulis emigrated to the U.S. 22-years ago and since 2008 has been the inaugural holder of the Emily J. McAllister Endowed Professorship in Piano at the J.W. Fulbright College of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Margulis will speak before the concert, providing context for the works by Robert Schumann, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Nikolai Medtner, and Mily Balakirev. Complimentary wine, cheese and bread provided by local wineries and the Petaluma Creamery will be served.
“Margulis a phenomenal pianist and a phenomenal artist. He has a technique that just is unbelievable,” raves Walter, who adds wryly, “I think he’s one of the best pianists in the world, in my not so humble opinion.”
Jura Margulis In Concert begins at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 14 at the Petaluma Historical Library and Museum, 20 4th St., Petaluma. Tickets are $25 to $40. For more information, visit petalumamuseum.com/concerts/#3 or call the museum at (707) 778-4398.