From the opening phrase of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 3 in A Major, Op. 69 for cello and piano, the relationship between the two instruments is established. It is a partnership of yearning and fulfillment, of balance, of energy and repose. The music etches a path that traverses familiar and unforeseen terrain before reaching its destination. Each movement reveals fresh glimpses into a world where the listener’s mind is free to dwell. The adagio is heartbreakingly poignant. The final allegro overflowing with exuberance. In these sonatas, Beethoven demonstrates an uncanny ability to distill the enormity of human experience into perfectly constructed musical phrases, exploiting every nuance of each instrument’s timbre and expressivity. The result is breathtaking.
And what an apt metaphor for the friendship of our performers: New York Philharmonic Secular Society Chair, cellist Maria Kitsopoulos, and pianist Maria Asteriadou.
The “Marias” met as students at Juilliard in 1984, here described by Maria A: “One of the highlights during my first days as a 19-year-old student in a strange country almost 3000 miles away from my birth-land, was a warm, reassuring and quite loud greeting accompanied by a unique and welcoming laughter produced by the person who would play a very important role in my musical and personal life. Bumping into “Maria Cello,” an extremely energetic, passionate, and exceptional person, in the Juilliard practice rooms marked the beginning of a great friendship.”
Maria K adds: “We immediately took to each other because we were Greek of course. Our first plan was a recital in Greece for that summer. Maria Asteriadou made the schedule and both Marias stayed at her parent’s home in Thessaloniki. Her mother decided that we needed to be distinguished from each other so Maria Asteriadou became “Maria Piano” and Maria Kitsopoulos became “Maria Tsello (Cello).” Those names stuck and you are all welcome to use them! Ever since that first recital in Greece in the summer of 1984, Maria Piano and Maria Cello have been good friends and have played many concerts together.”
Over the years, the two Marias continued to play through sonatas. They happened upon a famous scowling portrait of Beethoven - and he looked as if he were scowling directly at them as they played, somehow reminding them of a certain intensity to which both were drawn. They began to perform the sonatas, and the nature of the music spoke to the connection that the two Marias felt as friends. “Music, like friendship, needs time to settle, mature, and express itself to the fullest extent. Maria and I hope that you will enjoy listening to our own journey through Beethoven's wonderful music.”
Voices of Ascension and both Marias wish to thank our friends at The Secular Society for fully sponsoring this concert project. The impact of their generosity to musicians and music-making at Voices of Ascension is transformative.