Sunday Night Unplugged to feature violin and piano duo

Special to The PREVIEW

This Sunday, Jan.13, at 5 p.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church will offer its monthly Sunday Night Unplugged Service, a service of music and meditation, featuring violinist Heidi Tanner and pianist Jean Smith.

Sunday Night Unplugged offers an opportunity to “unplug” from the rest of the world,  to sit and listen to beautiful meditative music, inspirational and scriptural readings, and enjoy the marvelous sounds of silence.

St. Patrick’s has been offering Sunday Night Unplugged to the community since January 2009 and is now beginning its fourth year.  The service features local artists who volunteer their talents to the community.

“Playing for Sunday Night Unplugged is a completely different experience from regular concert performances,” says Tanner, this month’s featured artist.  “There is no applause.  The music plays an integral part in the whole of the experience, but it is not really about the music for music sake.  It is about how the music intertwines into the whole of the experience.  I always feel as though the music is taking on a life of its own, apart from my own performance.”

Tanner moved to Pagosa Springs in 2002 with her family and decided to pick up her violin again after a long respite.  She was classically trained as a violinist in Tulsa, Okla., beginning her training at a young age. Her skills and talent ultimately earned her the distinguished role as concert mistress of the Tulsa Youth Orchestra.  Life took its turns and she put down her violin to pursue other avenues.  However, upon her arrival in Pagosa Springs, she was inspired to dust off the strings and start playing again.  Over the years, she has continued to refine her tone and build upon the training she received in her youth, making her a very sought-after performer in our area.  She currently is on the board and a member of the Pagosa Springs Community Band, the Divertamento String Quartet and the Night Song Trio, and also sings with the Pagosa Springs Community Choir.

Jean Smith has one of those rare and highly sought-after skills — she is a trained piano accompanist. Accompanying is an art form in and of itself, apart from the ability to perform as a piano soloist.  Accompanists not only learn their own part on the piano, but must be sensitive to the soloist, following nuances and tempo changes, able to pick up on the slightest inflections.  There are many who know how to play piano, but are not good accompanists.  It takes a particular talent and skill set that relatively few keyboard artists possess.

Smith is professor emeriti in the chemistry department at University of Nebraska. She studied piano and organ with Marie Boette in Parkersburg, W.V., and at The College of Wooster and West Virginia University. She has been the organist at Presbyterian churches in Salt Lake City and currently accompanies the sing-along each month at the Unitarian Fellowship in Pagosa. Since moving to Pagosa Springs in 2002, Jean has been active in the Pagosa Springs Arts Council, Habitat for Humanity and the project for Pagosa’s sister community in the Gurais Valley in Pakistan.

Sunday Night Unplugged is open to the public free of charge.  It offers the opportunity to relax, meditate, pray, and absorb the beauty of music as you gaze through the large plate glass windows in the church overlooking Pagosa Peak.

St. Patrick’s is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd, next to the hospital.  For more information,  call 731-5801.

This story was posted on January 10, 2013.