Czàrdàs! mother-daughter duo plays gypsy-inspired concert at Tacoma City Ballet


Former arts reporter Rosemary Ponnekanti on double bass, piano and her daughter Bianca Ponnekanti on violin

Rosemary Ponnekanti doesn’t just write — she also plays double bass and piano, and her daughter is equally talented.

Ponnekanti, former arts reporter at The News Tribune, and her daughter Bianca will give a mother-daughter concert of Gypsy-inspired classical music at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 12 in the elegant Tacoma City Ballet ballroom. The pair will play music by Brahms, Bartók, Mendelssohn and French bass legend François Rabbath. The musical performance is in conjunction with two pieces of newly choreographed dance by Tacoma City Ballet dancers.

Beneath the curvy ballroom balcony will be vibrant works by Tacoma artist friends of the Ponnekanti duo: Becky Frehse, Audrey Tulimiero Welch, Jesse Gardner and Audrey Elliott.

“It’s so much fun to play with my own daughter,” says Ponnekanti, a former professional bass player who’s also a writer and church organist. “We think alike — and rehearsing is super-convenient, of course.”

“I feel really lucky to be playing this concert with my mom,” says Bianca Ponnekanti, a junior at Stadium High who’s been playing violin since she was 5 years old. “It’s cool that we can play together.”

Inspired by Monti’s famous violin showcase “Csàrdàs,” the rest of the program is equally fiery and virtuosic for both players. Pieces include Brahms’ Hungarian Dance no. 5, Bartok’s Romanian Dances, the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Paganini’s “Moses Variations” and several pieces by living French bassist Francois Rabbath. The pair will also play some Piazzolla tangos arranged for bass and violin.

Admission is by donation to the Tacoma City Ballet’s Jan Collum Memorial Scholarship Fund, which helps pay tuition for dancers in need. Nibbles will be offered, as well as a no-host bar.

Performer bios

Rosemary Ponnekanti gained her bachelors in music at the University of Melbourne, Australia and performance certificate at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague, Holland. She spent 10 years performing with the Melbourne Symphony, Adelaide Symphony, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra and early music groups, before moving to the United States for a 15-year career in journalism. She is also a trained pianist and is currently organist at St. Luke’s Episcopal, Tacoma. She loves traveling, yoga and aerial circus.

Bianca Ponnekanti just finished a season as co-concertmaster of the Tacoma Young Artists Orchestra and as principal second violin of the Los Angeles Touring Orchestra, as well as leading a TYSA string quartet. She enjoys traveling, adventuring and hanging out with her dog.

Artist bios

Becky Frehse is a painter and mixed-media artist who likes exploring musical themes in her work. She also teaches.

Audrey Tulimiero Welch is a painter and collage artist who recently relocated to Tacoma from Perth, Australia. She focuses on ideas of line, mapping and place.

Jesse Star Gardner is a photographer, writer and teacher who brings out the story in her portraiture and landscape work.

Audrey Elliott is a junior at Tacoma’s Science and Math Institute who works in pen and ink as well as paint.

“Czàrdàs! A Gypsy-inspired duo recital”, Aug. 12, 7:30 p.m., Tacoma City Ballet ballroom, 508 6th Ave., Tacoma. Admission: By donation.,

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