Alexander Lipay doesn't know what brought him to pick up a brush and start painting.
But around four or five years ago, he made his first oil painting, a landscape scene.
Then he painted another. And another.
He's painted at least 30 of them since and has developed a hobby that complements the Tucson Symphony Orchestra principal flutist's artistic life.
"Someone has got to teach you how to make a sound," said the Russian-born, U.S.-raised flutist, who joined the TSO in 2006. "This is way more simple."
It is Lipay's musical prowess that will take the spotlight Sunday when he and pianist Alexander Tentser bring their Duo Alexander to the St. Andrew's Bach Society stage.
The pair are performing "Bach Lives, Part I," an all-Bach recital that includes sonatas, a trio and a pair of partitas for flute and piano.
"It shows some of the most famous and most popular tunes of J.S. Bach," Lipay said in a thick Russian accent despite decades of living away from his homeland. "Most of the stuff we are going to play people are going to recognize, even people who don't know much about classical music. They are some of the most popular tunes in the world."
Lipay said Duo Alexander, which has been performing for a few years, strives to follow Bach's playbook when interpreting his music. But Lipay said they achieve a sound on modern instruments that is "a whole lot better than Bach had in mind."
"In the time of Bach, the flutes were a lot different. They had the much smaller sound, and I think most of them were made of wood. They also did not have the type of grand pianos that we have," he explained. "Most of the music was played on harpsichord. So it was a much smaller sound back then. … There's a lot more things you can do with the sound than you could then."
The recital kicks off a quiet summer for Lipay. His only other performance is sitting in the principal-flute seat with TSO Music Director George Hanson's Sunriver Music Festival in Oregon in August.
Sunday's performance is the first of two "Bach Lives" concerts in the summer season. The second one, Aug. 4, features former Bach Society artistic director Lindabeth Binkley on oboe joining the Bach Society Chamber Orchestra, led by Bruce Chamberlain.
If you go
• What: Bach Lives, Part I: Duo Alexander.
•When: 2 p.m. Sunday.
• Where: Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams St.
• Tickets: $12; $5 for students at the door or at standrewsbach.org online.
• All Bach program:
Aria BWV 1068
Cantata BWV 147 "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."
Partita for Solo Flute.
Trio Sonata for Flute, Violin and Piano.
Partita for Solo Piano.
Sonata for Flute and Piano.
• Details: Call 808-2122.