COLDWATER – Classical music fills the stage as the 17th Annual Smith Memorial Concert brings pianist Rebecca Mayer, violinist Rachael Klaus and cellist David Peshlakai on September 16, 2017 at 7pm at the Tibbits Opera House.
The Ruth, Robert, Douglas, and Dean Smith Memorial Concert was originally organized by Diane Smith Pridgeon and her sister Susanne Smith Wise to celebrate the lives of Pridgeon’s Father and two brothers, Robert, Douglas and Dean Smith. Pridgeon explains, “At the 25th year after their passing, my mother and I thought we would like to do something to give back to our community.” After Ruth’s passing, the sisters continued the tradition, adding their mother to the list of the lives they celebrate.
On behalf of herself and her sister, Pridgeon says, “Branch County is a rural area; a place where people know each other and care. To continue the legacy our family instilled in us of faith, family, and friends, we share this concert for all of Branch County to affirm the same. It’s a celebration of life, love, and God’s gift of music.”
Each year a non-profit benefits from the proceeds of the concert, and this year the Tibbits Boiler Fund has been chosen as the beneficiary this year. The current boiler needs to be totally replaced, or the nearly 32,000 people who use the Tibbits annually will be left in the cold.
This year’s concert will feature pianist Rebecca Mayer and her sister Rachael Klaus on violin, playing Cesar Franck’s “Sonata in A Major,” John Williams’ “Theme from Fiddler on the Roof,” and Edward Burkhart’s “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” among other selections. The pair will be joined by renowned cellist David Peshlakai.
Rachel Klaus graduated with academic honors from the Cleveland Institute of Music, receiving her Bachelor of Music and her Master of Music in violin performance. Klaus has won or been a top prize winner in the Corpus Christi International Violin Competition, Stulberg International String Competition, Irving Klein String Competition, Kingsville International String Competition, MTNA, and the Cleveland Institute of Music Concerto Competition. In 2006, Klaus was one of the few recipients throughout the world invited to participate in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. In May 2012, Klaus won her current position as a violinist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Rebecca Mayer recently graduated with academic honors from the Cleveland Institute of Music, receiving her Bachelor of Music and her Master of Music in piano performance. The Cleveland Institute of Music faculty awarded her The Sadie Zellen Prize and the William Kurzman prize in piano. She has soloed with the Ann Arbor and Rochester Symphonies of Michigan in both piano and in violin.
Currently, Mayer lives in Hillsdale, Michigan with her husband and three children. After teaching piano at Hillsdale College for a few years, she developed a classical music series in Hillsdale called Listen and Learn, as well as freelanced with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians.
Klaus and Mayer will be joined on stage by cellist David Peshlakai. Peshlakai has been Principal Cellist with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra since 2004 where he holds the Diether Haenicke Principal Cello chair. He has appeared as soloist with the Kalamazoo, Jackson, Battle Creek, Greater Grand Forks, Central Iowa and Michigan State University Symphony Orchestras, the Hillsdale College/Community Orchestra, Albion College Orchestra and the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse Symphony Orchestra. Peshlakai has also taught at Hillsdale College, Kalamazoo College, Albion College, Alma College, and Grand Valley State University.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students. For tickets or more information, go online to Tibbits.org, to the Tibbits offices on 93 W. Chicago St. in Coldwater 9-5 Mon. through Fri., or by phone at 517.278.6029. All events are held at the historic Tibbits Opera House, 14 S. Hanchett Street, Coldwater.