The Performing Arts Society returns with a piano concert


After a two-year postponement and a long trip from the East Coast this week, Richard Dowling returns on Saturday for the Performing Arts Society’s first concert since the pandemic began.

Dowling, an acclaimed New York-based classical pianist, said he was delighted to perform again on Saturday at Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna.

“It’s nice to be back,” he said. “I’m delighted that things are starting to pick up again.”

Dowling grew up in Texas, and when he was little his mother enrolled him in baseball, swimming and piano lessons. He said the music stayed with him.

“I had a natural affinity for music,” he said.

Dowling noted that the first thing many people do when moving into a new house, apartment or office building is to install a sound system for music. It’s not a cliché, he says, to say that people need music.

That’s what keeps him at the piano.

“When you’re a musician, music is how we express ourselves,” Dowling said. “I’m still in love with it after all these years.”

Dowling performed alongside another musician in Soldotna at a concert in 2016 and said he had a great time playing in the church. He praised the vaulted ceiling, acoustics and piano at Christ Lutheran Church.

“It really is such a pleasure to play here,” Dowling said.

Barb Christian, president of the Performing Arts Society, said Saturday night’s concert was a long time coming.

“We always wanted to bring him back as a pianist because he’s fabulous,” she said.

According to Dowling’s biography, he performed around the world, including sold-out recitals at Carnegie Hall in New York.

“He’s a very powerful person coming to our area, and the best part about it is he’s so excited to do it,” Christian said.

The first half of Saturday’s performance, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church, will feature classical music. After intermission, Dowling will perform an array of American and Latin American pieces.

Seating is limited to 100 attendees to provide enough space for social distancing, and Christian said masks are recommended.

Tickets are available — $20 for adults and $10 for students — at Curtain Call, Country Liquor and Deja Lu in Kenai, as well as River City Books and Northcountry Fair in Soldotna while supplies last. If there are tickets left, they will be available at the door.

“It’s just amazing to have such talent here,” said Christian.

Contact journalist Camille Botello at


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