New concert series hits Surrey Arts Centre with Sarah Hagen

Coffee and classical music, a winning combination
By Anna Phan
[contributor]

Who said classical music is a bore? On Oct. 23, the Surrey Arts Centre hosted their Classical Coffee Concert, meant to be a “Welcoming environment for people to relax.” The event featured tea, coffee and other baked goods to enjoy, and was anchored by a 75-minute concert in the Studio Theatre.

The concert featured Canadian pianist Sarah Hagen, accompanied by several orchestral musicians, performing an eclectic variety of classical pieces for those in attendance. Pastries and beverages were distributed to the audience while she performed, an act that’s highly unusual for the classical music scene.

Hagen is a 2013 first-prize winner at Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition, where she was awarded the opportunity to perform solo at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in May 2013. Hagen’s accomplishments in 2012-13 included two performances at the Carnegie with Polish flautist Krzysztof Kaczka and recitals with L.A. Philharmonic concertmaster Martin Chalifour, as well as a complete concert tour in Manitoba and Saskatchewan with cellist Rebecca Wenham.

The idea for the Classical Coffee Concert series was “created in [her] own living room,” says Hagen. The concept was to generate an “inviting and welcoming” feeling of relaxation for the audience as she performed, similar to the atmosphere she was able to foster when entertaining company in her own home. When playing piano for her guests, she would typically serve “tea and homemade cookies,” and by emulating this “homemade feeling” in the theatre, Hagen believes she can lend the theatre the comfort and warmth of her living room.

Hagen’s primary instrument is the piano, and she explains that the piano represents her personality as it is an “independent” piece, yet is still well-suited to being played with others. In addition, the piano was the only instrument available to her when growing up, though she’s since learned to play the oboe and the violin. Ultimately, she described the piano’s rich melody and the vibration from the cords as “being different from any other instruments.”

Hagen says that playing the piano for her audience makes her feel as though she is creating “a realm for people to feel emotions.” She has said that listening to music should make a person feel different than they do every day. Like many musicians, Hagen hopes to make “richer and better” the lives of music fans everywhere.

Her motivation? “The belief that music has the power to be a window into our souls regardless of age or knowledge.”

The Surrey Arts Centre invites you to join them for another afternoon of classical music and coffee and tea on Nov. 20. Check out their website for more details.

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