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Three B's first of concert series

Bach, Beethoven and Brahms - the three B's. The music of these three masters was featured Saturday in the first of a series of concerts being presented by Jaya Hoy and Lisa Hornung.
Cellist Chris Grafton, mezzo soprano Lisa Hornung and pianist Jaya Hoy presented the first in a series of chamber music concerts Saturday at Third Avenue United Church. The sanctuary, where the concert took place, has been described as one of the community's architectural gems and is well-known for its fine acoustics.

Bach, Beethoven and Brahms - the three B's.

The music of these three masters was featured Saturday in the first of a series of concerts being presented by Jaya Hoy and Lisa Hornung.

Seventy lucky citizens were awed and amazed by the performance of cellist Chris Grafton, a young yet highly trained and experienced musician, and pianist Hoy, recently returned to North Battleford from an international career based out of the United States.

"You'd be hard pressed to find a concert like this anywhere," said mezzo soprano Hornung of the performance by the starring duo. Hornung, guest artist, performed two operatic works by Jules Massenet.

Hoy said she and Grafton chose to perform some of their favourite pieces by the "three B's," entitling the program Music For the Soul.

"It's so uplifting," commented one audience member.

Hoy and Grafton, who say they have always been in tune with one another musically, wrapped up the performance with Brahms' Sonata in E minor. Far from the lullaby often associated with the famous composer, Hoy and Grafton brought the concert to an exciting and resounding conclusion, with the acoustics of the sanctuary of the Third Avenue United Church living up to their reputation.

Hoy and Hornung describe 26-year-old Grafton as a dynamic, passionate performer, who plays with tremendous maturity and depth.

Following the performance, one local musician told Grafton, "That was the most amazing thing I've ever heard."

Grafton said it was great to perform in North Battleford. He and Hoy have played together extensively in the past. Because they were playing favourite pieces they've played together before, he was able to arrive Thursday from Chicago, rehearse Friday and Saturday with Hoy, and be ready to perform Saturday evening. He was returning home Sunday.

Growing up in the bay area of San Francisco, Calif., Grafton studied privately with Jill Brindell of the San Francisco Symphony. He performed regularly with the Oakland Youth Orchestra, touring Italy in 2002. He also toured and performed extensively in Florida, Washington and Japan with a Suzuki studio from San Francisco. Before graduating from the prestigious Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona, Grafton performed as principal cellist in three orchestras, as a soloist and co-created The Sirus Trio with Hoy and Maureen Smiley. Grafton moved to Chicago in 2009 and performs with the Lake Shore Symphony Orchestra.

Saturday was the first in a series of recitals at Third Avenue United Church this winter being presented by Hornung and Hoy.

Both Hornung and Hoy grew up in North Battleford and have enjoyed international musical careers. While Hornung has based her career out of the Battlefords, Hoy has worked mainly out of the United States. She has recently returned to care for her mother, Dr. Mary McPhail.

"I haven't spent a winter in Saskatchewan for 40 years," says Hoy, "and the only way I could think to keep myself from being overwhelmed by the cold was to invite some of my friends and Lisa's friends to North Battleford to perform."

The next concert will feature American violinist/composer Myra Lin on Jan. 23. Lin has been performing as a recitalist and chamber musician to audiences throughout the United States, Canada and Europe for over 25 years, at one time serving as a cultural ambassador for the United States.

In February, Hornung will join baritone Chris Kelly from Saskatoon, who holds a master of music in vocal performance from the University of Western Ontario, for a special Valentine's evening. Hornung and Kelly will be joined in this recital by Garry Gansuage, dedicated and gifted local accompanist, who currently accompanies a local children's choir and has accompanied music festival vocalists for over 30 years.

Hornung, Hoy and her brother, baritone Hugh McPhail, will combine for another lively afternoon of songs, arias and duets in March and the season will wind up with a duo piano recital by Kelly and Hoy