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pianoSunValley Pairs Pros with Amateurs
Friday, January 6, 2023


An unusual experiment in classical and jazz music is taking place this week at The Argyros. And it will culminate in a concert Friday night featuring an eclectic menu of music ranging from the Beatles to Rachmaninoff to Jelly Roll Morton.

It’s called pianoSunValley, and it’s an offshoot of Piano Sonoma, which was founded 11 years ago as a pilot program.

Four Julliard-trained professional musicians will work today through Saturday coaching, teaching and mentoring doctors, lawyers, teachers and others with a passion for music who have come from as far away as Tennessee, Colorado and New York  and as close as the Wood River Valley for musical imput. The amateurs will then perform a private concert on Saturday without the pressure of the public spotlight.

The four professional musicians who are teaching the adult enthusiasts will perform a very public pianoSunValley concert at 7:30 p.m. tonight--Friday, Jan. 6 at The Argyros in Ketchum. Tickets are $20, available at

The professional musicians include violinist Charles Yang, familiar to Sun Valley audiences as a member of Time for Three, an eclectic string trio that has performed a myriad of times with the Sun Valley Music Festival. The others are jazz trumpeter Riley Mulherkar and the husband-wife team of pianist Peter Dugan and mezzo-soprano Kara Dugan, who though classically trained can pivot and sing mariachi and other tyles on a dime.

“PianoSonoma was founded by Michael and Jessica Shinn who met at Julliard. We brought the concept to Sun Valley at the invitation of Sun Valley resident Michael Marks, who served on the board of Julliard and whose brother Alan Marks was a Julliard-trained pianist and a great professional concert pianist,” said Peter Dugan.

The four professional musicians, he said, have played together in various configurations—the Dugans even joined Time for Three for two New Year’s concerts at The Argyros last year. But this is the first time all have played together at the same time.

The concert will include some jazz duets by Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver performed by Peter Dugan and Mulherkar, excerpts from Maria Schneider’s “Winter Morning Walks,” and new twists on the Beatles,  Rachmaninoff and others.

“We’ll be finding common ground in a very eclectic program,” said Peter Dugan. “Jelly Roll Morton was writing jazz at the same time as Rachmaninoff so we will juxtapose the music of two composers who were writing different styles of music at the same time in history. We’ll present familiar songs in new ways.”

Peter Dugan met Yang 15 years ago during their first year at Julliard when Yang skipped practicing scales to jam with Dugan.  They met Mulherkar at Julliard, even though he was in the jazz program. And Peter began performing music with his wife Kara at Julliard even before their first date.

“We met 12 years ago and music making has been part of our relationship from the beginning,” he said. “We’ve been married for seven years and we live in New York, but we travel the world performing. It’s amazing the trust you have with someone who’s a partner like that—the way the trust translates from off stage to onstage. You have each other’s back more so than any other music relationship.”

Dugan said that pianoSunValley gives the amateur musician a feel of what it’s like to be a professional musician.

“People who work all year long and are at the top of their field, whether that be medicine or law or teaching, see their time with us a chance to escape the day-to-day grind and focus on their passion for music,” he said. “We try to create the most supportive environment we can—not to criticize but to help them dive deeper into their passion. They’re not just taking lessons but learning what it truly means to be a musician.”

Anyone can apply to the program, said Dugan.

“Some of those who are with us this week have been with us before in Sonoma. Others are joining for the first time. Hopefully, we’ll do it again in Sun Valley. and we will certainly be back in Sonoma.”


Time for Three will perform original compositions developed for their fans in Ketchum at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13 and 14 at The Argyros. Tickets are $50 for general admission and $100 for priority seating and an invitation to a rehearsal.

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