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May 19, 2022

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Classical pianist taken to hospital after Vancouver performance

Musician diagnosed with heart failure, records video message for fans

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

One of the world’s great classical pianists delivered a memorably brilliant guest performance with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at Skyview High School Saturday night before being rushed to a local hospital, where he was diagnosed with acute heart failure.

Alexander Toradze remains in Vancouver’s PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center while his health stabilizes, according to his publicist, Matt Herman of New York-based 8VA Music Consultancy.

“He is doing well and will probably be in the hospital for few more days,” Herman said by email on Wednesday.

Toradze, 69, is a native of the nation of Georgia who requested asylum from the Soviet Union in 1983, while on tour in the U.S. A renowned concert pianist, he has lived in the U.S. ever since.

Herman said Toradze was looking forward to performing pieces by Stravinsky and Shostakovich with the symphony, under the direction of Salvador Brotons, on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at Skyview.

But Toradze felt progressively worse on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, when he experienced extreme fatigue and struggled to walk by himself.

“He continued to test negative for COVID” and insisted on going ahead with the Saturday night performance, Herman said.

Freelance concert reviewer James Bash was in the audience. He later posted on his website, Northwest Reverb, that the concert began late, after the audience was warned that the featured soloist might not be able to go on.

Toradze eventually walked on stage accompanied by Dr. Michael Liu, an orchestra member and physician at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

“Toradze pounced on the keyboard” and played demanding music with great grace and passion, Bash wrote.

Afterward, Liu drove Toradze directly to PeaceHealth.

“Toradze was then told that he had acute heart failure while performing, which was only recognized after his trip to the hospital,” Herman said. “Toradze continues to be at PeaceHealth until his health is stable.”

In a video for well-wishers that Toradze recorded Sunday from his bed at PeaceHealth, he said: “What happened last night is a miracle for me.”

“I felt utterly, utterly weak to go on stage and play a performance,” he said, but thanks to Liu, who never left his side, he was able to perform and then get immediate help.

“By the way, today is Orthodox Easter for me. For Georgians it’s a very important day. It’s fine to be in a hospital surrounded by friends.”

Sunday’s orchestra concert went ahead in part, but the audience saw a film of Toradze’s Saturday night performance as well as the video greetings from Toradze at PeaceHealth.

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