Posted on May 9th, 2007
She thought she’d never play two-hand piano again. But she is, perhaps with greater virtuosity than before.
Internationally-acclaimed Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska will return to the Lehman Auditorium stage to perform at the 15th annual Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival to be held June 10-17 at Eastern Mennonite University. She first collaborated with the Bach Festival in 1999.
A testimony to the power of music and healing against all odds, Ms. Fialkowska will play Chopin’s “Concerto No. 2 in F Minor for Piano and Orchestra” and “Concerto No. 1 in E Minor for Piano and Orchestra” during the second festival concert of the festival 7:30 p.m. June 15.
Her career, the subject of a documentary produced in 1992, came to a dramatic halt in 2002 with the discovery of a tumor in her left arm. She endured several surgeries in that arm to remove the cancer, resulting in paralysis. Later a rare muscle transfer was performed.
After years of performing works for right hand alone and finding the inner strength to recover from a debilitating illness, she “has resumed her two-handed career at the same level of musical artistry as before,” according to Bach Festival coordinator Mary Kay Adams.
In addition to her concert performances, Fialkowska will tell her inspiring story at the Thursday noon concert, June 14, at Asbury United Methodist Church, S. Main St., Harrisonburg, “reflecting on what it’s like for a musician to lose that which gives meaning to her life, specifically, the ability to make music,” Ms. Adams noted.
In light of recent local and world-wide tragedies, this year’s festival explores music as a means of healing for humankind, promoting the musical arts as one manner of reconciliation.
“While music cannot bring back what was lost, it can bring healing to communities,” Adams said. “Music functions as a means of comfort and identity, providing a safe haven for those hurt, displaced or lost.