Pianist plays symphony of brilliance

Vancouver Island Symphony hosts B is for Brilliance on Saturday (Oct. 20) at Nanaimo's Port Theatre.

Sara Davis Buechner performs with the Vancouver Island Symphony during B is for Brilliance Saturday (Oct. 20) at the Port Theatre.

Sara Davis Buechner performs with the Vancouver Island Symphony during B is for Brilliance Saturday (Oct. 20) at the Port Theatre.

by Rosemary Phillips

Pianist Sara Davis Buechner is known internationally and yet when asked to talk about music compares herself to a diner.

“They have everything on the menu; pork chops one night, chicken another. Someone can call me up for Mozart but I can do chamber music, dances, film scores, silent films and Gershwin,” she said. “I have an eclectic taste, with lots of fun and variety.”

Pierre Simard, artistic director for the Vancouver Island Symphony, called Buechner up for Beethoven. On Saturday, October 20 she will perform Piano Concerto No. 3 for B is for Brilliance.

“I’m really looking forward to this concert,” she said. “I am honoured to have ‘B is for Brilliance’ attached to my name – but I can’t really put myself on a level with those fellows (the big B’s – Bach, Beethoven and Brahms).”

With more than 100 concertos in her repertoire and performances around the globe and a reputation as a pianist to actively perform piano scores to silent movies, such as the restored Ben-Hur performed at the Lincoln Center, Sara said she is up for the event.

“It is in Beethoven’s third (Symphony No. 3) that he achieved the epitome of the great classical concerto. It was his middle period; he knew exactly who he was with style and personality,” said Buechner. “There is utter perfection to the form and material. I often come back to the third as my favourite Beethoven. When that piece is over and I’ve finished playing there is such satisfaction and contentment.”

While stand-up comedy would be Sara’s second choice for a career, she knew from early on  she would be a musician.

“I was drawn to it when listening to the radio, and I touched the piano every chance I had,” she said. “For a lot of child prodigies that’s the way it is; born with gifts and talents. I had the good fortune of a wonderful teacher who helped me develop them.”

The ex-New Yorker spent most of her younger life in the Big Apple and has been a Vancouverite since 2003. It was her passion for music that led her to Vancouver.

“I studied at Juilliard and went to various competitions,” she said. “I have such an appetite for music; I love playing it, talking about it, and teaching it. I always had my eye on the West Coast and when the position came up to teach at UBC I jumped at it.”

Buechner was adopted by the Hanshin Tigers, Osaka’s baseball team.

Vancouver Island Symphony’s B is for Brilliance is Saturday (Oct. 20). The pre-concert talk is at 6:30 p.m. and the performance starts at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available by calling 250-754-8550 or online at www.porttheatre.com.