Barbara Blegen

Longtime Missoula pianist Barbara Blegen is next up in the Celebrate Piano Series at the University of Montana.

The “Celebrate Piano” Series at the University of Montana School of Music will feature Barbara Blegen on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 3 p.m. in the Music Recital Hall. Blegen, described by piano faculty member Steven Hesla as “flawless,” is the fourth concert in a series of five.

Blegen is no stranger to the Missoula musical community. Her first public full-length recital in the music recital hall was in 1955 when she was 11, and she was the featured soloist with the Missoula Civic Symphony Orchestra at the age of 12.

At the age of 15, Blegen was offered a full-ride scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she studied until graduation. Barbara moved on to Baltimore and then Boston, where she got a contract playing concerts with Columbia Artists. “I performed 88 concerts in a seven-year period – it was hard work, but incredibly rewarding” she says. She also played with the New York Philharmonic, and the St. Louis and Baltimore Symphonies during this period, and retired in 2006 when she returned to her hometown, almost 50 years later.

Since her “retirement,” Blegen accompanies the Opera Theater and the University Choir, presents master classes, accompanies vocal auditions and music recitals, performs in the School of Music Celebrate Piano Series and performs in the Missoula Symphony Orchestra’s Symphony Soirée.

Piano faculty member Steven Hesla describes Blegen as a “flawless pianist.” “We joke in the department that we haven’t heard her miss a note in 10 years. She’s adored in this community, and people just love what she brings to music.”

This concert is the fourth out of five in the Celebrate Piano Series through the UM School of Music. Tickets are available online at griztix.com, at the UMArts Box Office in the PAR/TV Center Lobby, or by calling 406-243-4581.

Celebrate Piano is a benefit concert for the UM Keyboard Society. Funds raised will bring in guest artists for the series, help piano students receive scholarships and attend conferences, and help with maintenance and care of the pianos at the University of Montana. Next up in the series is Bernadene Blaha and Kevin Fitz-Gerald, piano duo, on Saturday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Music Recital Hall.

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