The Phil Rocks Out 

Valley favorite returns as this weekend's soloist

As Boise Philharmonic fans well know by now, typifying the traditional image of a stuffy orchestral soloist isn't among pianist Alpin Hong's talents.

He'd rather rock out.

This weekend, Hong takes the stage with Boise Philharmonic for the second time, after quickly earning the adoration of symphony fans young and, ahem ... younger, with his first Philharmonic appearance in 2007.

Known for his verve, charisma and spunky way with the ivories, Hong is the sort of keystone musician to whom orchestral music owes an increasing debt. Pictured at alpinhong.com with his snowboard, skateboard, video game controller and the innards of a piano, Hong not only speaks the languages of several generations but also manages to convince us it's all the same dialect: music.

In an interview with Boise Weekly before last year's performance, Hong derided his prestigious conservatory alma mater for refusing to collaborate with heavy metal band Metallica and rebuked symphony boards for allowing classical music to stagnate under a suffocating elitism.

On stage, Hong is just as surprisingly impressive. He executes an equally flamboyant and flawless performance, the latter being expected of a professional symphonic musician of Hong's caliber while the former is a welcome bonus. Last year, Hong even showed off a bit by performing his encore with a single hand rather than the typically requisite two.

This year's Boise show has the 32-year-old tackling an all-Beethoven repertoire, including the Coriolan Overture, Piano Concerto No. 3 and Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral." While he'll no doubt take the liberty of two hands with Beethoven, there's little doubt that the show won't—as he would say—"rip."

Friday, Oct. 17, 8 p.m., $26, $31. Swayne Auditorium at NNU, Nampa, 707 Fern St.; Saturday, Oct. 18, 8:15 p.m., $20-$61. Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Ln. More info and tickets at boisephilharmonic.org, or call 208-344-7849.

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