Classical pianists Alexander Tutunov and Kristina Foltz will duel to the finish during the opening concert for Southern Oregon University's International Piano Institute.

Classical pianists Alexander Tutunov and Kristina Foltz will duel to the finish during the opening concert for Southern Oregon University's International Piano Institute.

Tutunov and Foltz will face off on two grand pianos — a Steinway and a Bösendorfer, respectively — at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 2, in the Music Recital Hall on the SOU campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

"I would like to play in such a way that there would be smoke coming from the piano," says Tutunov. "We'll try to burn the house down."

Foltz and Tutunov will begin the concert with Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and "Air on the G String," arranged for two pianos.

The two will then vie for the same keyboard during a performance of Beethoven's "Ich Denke Dein" ("I'm Thinking of You"), a playful exploration of melody for four hands based on a poem by Goethe, Foltz says.

Solo pieces included on the program are Liszt's "Sonetto del Petrarca" and Chopin's "Fantasie Impromptu," to be performed by Foltz; and Beethoven's "Moonlight" and Romeo Bids Juliet Farewell from Prokofiev's ballet, performed by Tutunov.

"Sometimes performers choose to play the audience's favorites," says Tutunov. "But in this case, we're playing our favorites, as well. There's good reason. These are gems of the classical repertoire."

Tutunov says he chose to play Prokofiev's Romeo because he can't stay away from Russian compositions.

"It's not a cheerful theme, but it's stunningly beautiful," says Tutunov. "I can win an audience over with that one."

Chopin's "Fantasie Impromptu" is another universally loved piece, says Tutunov. As with many classical works, "Fantasie" was adapted into the pop song "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" in 1917 by Joseph McCarthy and Henry Carroll. It was introduced in the 1918 Broadway production of "Oh, Look!"

"The classical piece, fortunately, outlived the pop song," says Tutunov.

Mozart's Sonata in D Major for two pianos performed by Tutunov and Foltz will conclude the concert.

"Mozart was an entrepreneur who looked for commercial success," says Tutunov. "One way was to write for dueling pianos. It was a novelty during his time. It still appeals to today's audiences. The parts are equal. We take turns. It can be competitive."

Tutunov is a winner of the Russian National Piano Competition and the Belarusian National Piano Competition. He studied music in Moscow, at the University of North Texas and earned his doctorate degree from the Belarusian State Conservatory.

Foltz has studied music in Barcelona and Germany, and she completed her master's training in piano performance at the University of North Texas.

The Aug. 2 concert kicks off SOU's five-day International Piano Institute that offers master classes, workshops and presentations by Tutunov, Foltz and Margaret Evans, organist and director of music at St. Mark's in Medford. For information and a schedule of the workshops, go to www.sou.edu/music and select Summer Workshops.

The institute is tailored for students of all ages who love music but don't have a lot of experience. It is designed to be inspiring, informative and fun.

Tickets to the concert cost $15 for general admission and are available by calling 541-552-6101, or at the door. See www.sou.edu/music for more information.