EDITOR'S NOTE: Classical pianist Valentina Lisitsa, who was scheduled to perform with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra Friday and Saturday, has canceled due to illness. The concerts will still take place as scheduled.
WANT TO GO?
West Virginia Symphony
WHERE: Clay Center
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
TICKETS: $27.50, $40.50, $56.50 and $68.50
INFO: 304-561-3570 or www.theclaycenter.org
NOTE: The symphony is offering a buy-one-get-one-free ticket offer for the concert as part of the Charleston Area Alliance's Back to Business Charlie West campaign. To claim it, purchase tickets at the Clay Center box office or call and mention "Back to Business Charlie West."
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A little thing like a chemical disaster won't stop Valentina Lisitsa from performing this weekend with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
The Ukraine-born classical pianist has seen worse.
"My first show in Charleston was in 2001, right after 9/11," she said. "Nothing was flying. Everything was paralyzed."
But the show had to go on, and the symphony was probably eager to introduce its new conductor: Maestro Grant Cooper.
So, Lisitsa, who was living in Miami at the time, and her husband made the drive up from Florida.
"We were there five minutes before the rehearsal," she said. "So, what's a little poisoned water for us?"
She's seen that before, too, growing up in the then Soviet Union, where she said the water could be colorful and smelly.
Lisitsa has come a long way from Kiev, where she attended the Lysenko Music School and the Kiev Conservatory before coming to America in 1991, but she remembered what it was like living under communism.
"The musicians lived behind the Iron Curtain, too," she said. "Sure, some of the artists could travel, but usually, just the big names, and even they were selected to travel not just by their musical ability, but also how correct, politically, they were."
Lisitsa came to the U.S. as a student, and in time, her career flourished. These days, she performs all over the world, but is particularly proud of the audience she's cultivated on social media and through sites like YouTube.