From the Top Show 271 was taped at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts in New Albany, Ohio in March 2013. Learn what the performers have to say about their musical performances.
Audrey Watkins, 16, flute
III. Presto giocoso from Sonata for Flute and Piano
By: Francis Poulenc
This piece is extremely hormonal, with all sorts of jumps form lyrical to technical and back again. It never quite decides whether it wants to be serious or not, although it mostly leans towards the not serious. The way I think of it is it’s like someone in a class with their best friend, trying to pretend to be serious but bursting out laughing in all the teacher’s awkward pauses.
It’s really hard to maintain the internal calm necessary for the technique of this piece while still having the giggly attitude. If you aren’t careful, you wind up with about half the notes and a lot of really sharp high notes. It’s gun to juggle all of the piece’s moods, you just have to be careful to not get lost!
Post-Show Reflection: I really enjoyed going out for ice cream with Eric, Eva and Michaella after the show was over. It was the best to just relax and hang out with other awesome musicians and talk about the show, auditions, college, etc. Everyone on the show was so cool! The show was nerve-wracking in that when you’re playing with a great pianist, you REALLY don’t want to make mistakes. The experience of going on stage with all of the fun and madness of the show going on around you, however, was one of the most relaxed and sort of “fly by the seat of your pants” performances I’ve ever had.
Music can control your mood, which can control your actions, which can control your future, which can control your happiness, which can affect the entire human race. Ergo, music makes you happy, which makes everybody happy.
Sung Moon Park, 15, cello
By Lukas Foss
Post-Show Reflection: It’s hard to choose a favorite memory! The interview was a fun and new experience. I really liked the Arts Leadership Program orientation. It really made me look at music in a totally different way. Music is not just a mere entertainment, but also something that can make the world a better place.
The show was awesome! I love how From the Top does these concerts. The whole interview and more relaxed environment make it just awesome. I actually thought that it was little bit odd that the staff expected us to be super nervous backstage right before the performance.
Music has the power to make the world a much better place. It can unite people. It can build emotional connections between people. It is the best tool of communication we have got. It can do anything.
Eric Goldberg, 18, percussion
“Scirocco” for solo marimba
By: Michael Burritt
“Scirocco” means “hot desert winds,” and this image is definitely well captured by the melody of this piece. It consists of a lot of notes in a very short amount of time, which helps contribute to its frenzied storm-like nature. This piece was a challenge to learn not only because of its technical difficulty, but it was difficult to figure out how to communicate the imagery of it.
This piece evokes more imagery than others I have played, and there is a story that I have to tell. The tempo and dynamic ranges help communicate the varying intensity of this storm, so it is my duty to make that clear to the audience not only by the sound that I produce, but how I present it physically.
Eden Chen, 13, piano
“Concert Paraphrase on Rigoletto” S.434
By: Franz Liszt
I feel like I can play this piece for any occasion. It’s got lyrical sections AND virtuosity. I’ve played it in small parties and larger concerts, and always get great reactions. I think it’s like a chili pepper: what you’ve got is the drama and scope of an opera packed into the length of an impromptu. I remember once I was performing it at a hotel for some relatives, and some little kids ran up and started playing random keys. It was pretty funny because no one wanted to interrupt me, but the kids wouldn’t stop.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is the overall structure and unity of the piece. Since it came from an opera, and an opera is a story, everything has to sound adherent. To me, that’s the most difficult part because it’s really easy to get caught up in all the details. It is the first transcription I’ve ever played, and I enjoy it a lot, so I’m definitely going to want to play more transcriptions in the future.
“Geistliches Wiegenlied” (Sacred Lullaby) from Two Songs for Alto, Viola and Piano, Op.91, No.2
By: Johannes Brahms
Michaella Cipriani, 17, mezzo-soprano
This piece is a lullaby for Jesus, and it’s a pretty dark lullaby. In some parts, the speaker is pleading desperately to the angels for help protecting her child. She’s yelling at the trees to shut up because they’re being too loud. Eventually, the windstorm calms down, the baby falls asleep, and everything’s very sweet and picturesque.
I think this is one of those pieces where expression is more important than beauty. For me, that means sounding “yucky” sometimes – using straight-tone, glottal attacks – stuff I’m not supposed to do. It’s an interesting balancing act between singing with technical correctness (legato, with clean onsets, tone that projects, vibrancy, etc.) with expressiveness.
Post-Show Reflection: I loved hearing all the other performers play and talk about their music. They’re all so passionate. I think everyone’s enthusiasm rubbed off on each other, and built up higher and higher. I was surprised at how non-nervous I was. I think it was because I had the personal, informal connection with the live audience from talking about silly things in the interviews. I felt like everyone in the seats were good friends, and I was just hanging out, making music for fun with my friends.
Music has the power to create understanding between people who otherwise have trouble communicating with each other.
Eva Kennedy, 18, viola
This is one of the most gorgeous pieces I’ve ever played. It’s fairly repetitive, but the melodies are so beautiful that they never get old. One thing that we’ve worked on has been presenting the repeated melodies a little differently each time, so we ended up playing them over and over again in rehearsals and I still absolutely love playing and listening to them!
This piece has been a very unique experience for me – his is the first time I’ve ever played with a vocalist. It’s very different than playing with other string players, so it was difficult at first, but it has been fun and very beneficial, especially since we (string players) are always told to phrase like vocalists. We also had to take the meaning of the text into consideration when exploring different colors and characters, which is something I’d never had to do before.
Post-Show Reflection: One of my favorite parts was sitting backstage after we had finished playing with the other performers who had finished and listening to the show. It was so much fun to listen to the other performers; everybody sounded fantastic and the interviews were all hilarious, both of which were particularly apparent because of the audience’s reactions. Also, I had to miss the first night and two of the other performers missed the Arts Leadership workshop, so it was really nice to be there with everyone and feel that camaraderie.
It was so much fun! I had my last college audition the day before the show, so it was really exhilarating to walk onstage and know that I was just there to share this beautiful music–the audience wasn’t a panel judging me, they were a group of friends, family, and music-lovers who were engaged and excited to be there. As a performer, you can totally feel that.
Music has the power to do anything. Music can foster deeply meaningful human connections, international peace and understanding, personal growth and healing and discovery, and a million other things. If we continue to expand the boundaries of music and if we believe in it, music can do anything.
From the Top host Christopher O’Riley has released a new recording, O’Riley’s Liszt which delves into the transcriptions of the master interpreter. The 2-CD set and HD audio/video Blu-ray features Christopher’s own touches on the works of Mozart, Wagner, Berlioz, Schubert, and Schumann. Christopher is also making live appearances in conjunction with the May 7 release, performing at clubs and other alternative venues in New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Check out the schedule below.
Christopher O’Riley on tour with O’Riley’s Liszt
It is with excitement that we report that six From the Top alumni have been named among 30 competitors in the Van Cliburn Competition, May 24 – June 9 in Fort Worth, Texas, one of the world’s most prestigious piano competitions.
The Van Cliburn Competition was founded in 1962 to recognize the great pianist Van Cliburn, who passed away in February 2013. In its 50-year history, the Cliburn has identified and ushered a host of exceptional artists to international prominence, including From the Top host Christopher O’Riley.
Meet the From the Top Van Cliburn competitors who represent six of eight U.S. contenders:
We’ll be reporting from the competition once it begins. So stay tuned as we follow these alumni.
From the Top’s broadcast for Show 270 was taped at the University of Georgia’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music in Athens, GA on Sunday March 3, 2013. We asked our performers to tell us more about their experience on the show…
The Scherzo-Tarantella merges precision, tenderness, and passio to create a masterpiece of virtuosity. I have neither a favorite nor least favorite part, as all aspects contribute to an incredible entity, which has no boundaries of emotion. This piece begins with grandeur, and technique, flows into a graceful middle section, and continues to bring the brief “Cantabile” of lighthearted yet passionate excitement. Finally, the Scherzo-Tarantella ends back at “Tempo I”, reiterating the brightness of the beginning.
This piece is special in it integration of various points of the emotional spectrum. Unlike some other pieces in my repertoire, the Scherzo-Tarantella brings out my still (thankfully) youthful energy to the maximum, with no need to suppress it. This piece highlights the difficulty of control, in regard to technique. However, by working on this control, I gain ability to structure the masterpiece and hopefully pass on to the audience the great love that it brings out in me.
Post-Show Reflection: my favorite moments were being backstage with my fellow performers, and then walking out onto the stage and looking at the warm, accepting audience. Of course, the performance itself was the best experience. I was shaking, my hands were cold, my heart was beating irregularly…the nervous aspect coalesced with the excited. When I started to play, my mind was in technique, but after about 12 seconds my heart overcame and joined the music.
Music has the power to affect others.
Well there is a story behind this piece. In January, a good friend and I put together a memorial benefit concert at our school for the victims and families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, Each piece was put in the program for a specific reason. We chose this piece because in Judaism, a Kaddish is the prayer for the dead. The idea we had in mind was that some things are beyond verbal description, so through music we could reflect and reach out to the Sandy Hook families, and faith or no faith, we wanted this piece to honor the students and teachers who were lost that day.
It has a very vocal or cantor-like quality. When I play it, I feel like I am solemnly pacing through a morphing, impressionistic atmosphere. This piece was written originally for voice and piano. Since the cello, in my opinion, is the closest string instrument to the human voice, it’s pretty cool that you can sing this piece without words. My teacher says that I should imagine that I am a Jewish cantor singing this prayer. I guess the hard part about playing this piece is making it have the same natural rise and fall of the human voice – just making it sound authentic and knowing the pacing you want to take before playing it.
Post-Show Reflection: It was great t meet all of these new, amazingly talented people, and realize how we all seem to know a lot of the same people. The rehearsals got rid of a lot of my anxiety before the show. When I walked onto the stage, the thought wasn’t to panic, but instead to just let go.
Music can speak as a language of its own, and draws out an emotional response.
The last two chords of the piece always confuse people. They often start clapping when the first chord is played because they think it is the end of the piece. In fact, the last chord often doesn’t get the chance to be heard. A friend of mine suggested that if audiences start clapping after the first chord, instead of bowing, I should wait until people stop clapping and play the last chord.
When I play this piece, I imagine a guitarist accompanying a singer singing the melody. I found it challenging to make the melody sing on the guitar, while making the accompaniment interesting at the same time. When I tried to listen to the melody, the accompaniment became too boring. When I tried to make the accompaniment interesting, the melody was not singing anymore.
Post-Show Reflection: My favorite memory was the pizza party! I loved how the staff members were so nice and supportive of us all the time. Also, it was nice to meet everyone for the first time. The performance itself was very relaxing. The audience was amazingly cheerful, and I really enjoyed performing for them.
I believe that music has the power to describe things that words cannot.
Post-Show Reflection: I loved taking the quiz for my on-air interview! I learned some hilarious new things about the food preferences of famous pianists, and even though I only answered one of the three questions correctly, it still was a hoot. For the show, I thought I would be anxious to perform, but I was having too much fun to feel nervous.
Music is a universal language – something everyone can understand. It’s something that can connect people, help us to put aside our differences, and come together. I believe music has the power to change the world.
Luther Warren, 17, violin
In me, this music awakes images of the vase, rolling Czech countryside. Although I’ve never visited the Czech Republic, these images are vivid and tangible. This piece was written immediately following the death of Smetana’s daughter. As a result it conveys and enormous amount of grief, suffering, and poignancy. This is the mist important aspect to communicate to the audience.
Post-Show Reflection: My favorite memory was sitting in the Green Room with the rest of my trio while the show was starting. Only when we heard the crowd begin to cheer that what we were about to do really sank in for me. Performing on the stage at the show was about what I would imagine being in a 1950s live-broadcast TV show would be like. There was a rush of inherent and exciting energy about it all.
Music has the potential to bring beauty to a person’s life on a level far deeper than most other things can reach.
This piece is one that is filled with grief. Our coach told us about how Smetana wrote this trio after his daughter died from an illness, and I think that you can hear those emotions of grief throughout the piece. It speaks to his sorrow and frustration, but there are also fond memories, like when you hear the beautiful cello melody. My favorite part of the piece is in the beginning, when the cello joins the violin as the violin repeats its descending line and the cello plays an ascending one.
There are some places with tricky rhythms, and we had to work hard to get those places together. But those rhythms also add to the tension and the emotion of the piece. As with any ensemble, the blending of the different voices for just the right combination is a challenge. In this piece the dominant instrument changes around at times, and so we must listen carefully.
Post-Show Reflection: My favorite memory was meeting all of the performers and production staff at the pizza party. For the show, I was more comfortable than I’d expected. Having done the dress rehearsal in the morning, playing on that stage wasn’t as scare anymore. In fact, the only thing different from the dress rehearsal, to the performance was having a live audience, which was totally energizing.
Music can do basically anything, I think. It can transcend time, culture, distance, and bring people together. It allows people who don’t even necessarily speak the same language to communicate fluently.
This piece explores many different emotions, all of which transition between each other in a matter of seconds. My favorite part is the long violin solo, where Luther hits a high B flat. My least favorite part is the section where the strings are playing triplets while I play loud, C major chords, which lasts for several measures. I fell like the storyline follows different paths of pain and sorrow, as many emotions run through us at once when we experience that.
This piece has a strange piano part. Unlike most romantic piano trios, the pianist doesn’t have too many virtuosic parts; however, the part is surprisingly difficult. The chordal and octave passages make it a tough piece. The hardest thing to nail is the right amount of “portato”.
Post-Show Reflection: In addition to performing (obviously), I enjoyed going out for dinner with all the “talent.” It was fun to get to know everyone. I didn’t think the performance was stressful at all – it was one of the most lighthearted, fun experiences I have ever had in a performance; very inspiring and invigorating.
Music has the power to bring people together for a common cause. It is also entertaining and provides a purpose, something to work for – it inspires, and provides hope.
From the Top loves reaching out to the communities we visit on our tour! While we were in Dallas in January, we brought three young musicians to visit a group of teens at the Pleasant Grove Branch Library. Our soloists were Russell Houston (age 18, cello), Aakash Patel (age 19, violin), and Chase Dobson (age 16, composer) – all good friends from Dallas!
They shared some of their favorite pieces with the group, and talked about why they believe classical music is so cool. Russell shared that he loves the diversity of the repertoire and demonstrated this by sharing two very different pieces: the exciting Kodály Sonata for Solo Cello followed by a thoughtful Bach Prelude (from Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major). One teen in the audience went so far as to compare Russell’s Kodály performance to Van Halen!
Aakash gave the group another perspective, talking about the opportunities provided by learning an instrument. When he was first starting out on the violin, for example, he loved having the chance to perform his favorite movie music. He demonstrated this by playing the Star Wars and Godfather themes. Chase spoke from a composer’s perspective, sharing how music has the ability to give you a new “voice.” He talked about what it’s like to write new music and create something all your own, using his composition that we featured on our show (Piano Trio No.1 – “II. Sporting of the Gods) as an example.
Aakash also wanted to let the group know that anyone can do music, speaking about how he got started with nothing more than a $50 violin and YouTube videos for “lessons”. He shared that his From the Top performance with the Dallas Symphony was a “dream come true,” and that a love of music has made him the person he is today.
From the Top’s broadcast for Show 265 featuring the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) was taped at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX on Friday January 4, 2013. We asked our performers to tell us more about their experience on the show…
Aakash Patel, 19, violin
I. Allegro non troppo from Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61
By: Camille Saint-Saëns
Saint-Saëns was a French composer, and French composers are known for their ability to create different atmospheres with their talent for understanding different textures of various instruments. When I play this piece, I think of the different atmospheres that Saint-Saëns tried to create, and relate such atmospheres to my experiences with them. This has helped me gain a deeper insight into the beauty of Saint-Saëns third Violin Concerto.
This piece contains some of the most beautiful lyrical passages I have ever played. This piece combines ideas of love and passion with a unique fluidity. For me it is a great challenge to convey this specific aspect of this piece. Although connecting the different portions of this piece together can be quite difficult, it is also quite rewarding. When I am able to convey this idea successfully, I get butterflies in my stomach.
Post-Show Reflection: I was asked, just before my performance, what it was like to finally be on the show – my response was, “pinch me, I’m dreaming!” 15 hours and many pinches later, my response should have been, “PLEASE REFRAIN FROM PINCHING!” From The Top has gotten me over so many hard blocks in my musical life – you guys keep my drive alive. Actually performing on the show was an unforgettable experience.
Many people say that man has the ability to move mountains. I was practicing outside a grocery store one day, and closed my eyes and began to play Bach’s G minor Sonata. After I finished, I opened my eyes and saw that an audience had formed – they all began to clap. I didn’t have to move any mountains, music had done it for me.
Russell Houston, 18, cello
By: Ernest Bloch
Whenever I play the Schelomo, I try to imagine it as the life story of a great king. I think it’s a cool piece to sit and play and really feel like a king, and the orchestra and solo parts contribute to this feeling. Further, it’s really fun to play because the orchestra parts are just so fantastic. My favorite part is the last tutti, it sounds so grandiose and overwhelmingly beautiful. When I was a little kid I used to really like the movie The Ten Commandments, and that tutti reminded me of that movie the first time I heard it. From the first time I heard this piece, I was determined to work on it, and wouldn’t stop talking about how much I loved it.
What’s really cool about the Schelomo is that it isn’t like other concerti where technique is the most important part – the Schelomo is like a painting, in that each part contributes to this overall panorama. The most important thing to communicate is the character of Solomon – the piece is about him. It’s really hard to communicate that wisdom and maturity he has in his old age, especially since I’m only 18! This piece is really fun to perform because it’s just as much about the accompaniment as the solo!
Post-Show Reflection: I loved walking out on stage for the first time at the live show – it was so validating seeing how many people were out there! The performance was great! The hall feels great to perform in, and the size of the audience was more affirming than frightening.
I think music can change lives, from changing how you feel any time you listen to having a life full of music. Music is enriching for the soul and makes life better!
Chase Dobson, 16, composer/piano
II. Sporting of the Gods from Piano Trio No.1
By: Chase Dobson
This piece is full of energy. The driving rhythm is part of it, but there’s also an element of it that comes from the three members of the trio together, all adding to the drive, competing with one another, but competing collaboratively. It takes a lot of precision to get the fine details together, but once it’s in performance, then the rush you get from it is unparalleled.
This composition is very special to me, in that it was the first composition I performed with live musicians. In the summer of 2011, I began rehearsing this trio with my friends Phoenix Abbo and Jorge Giron Vives. We prepared this movement for a benefit concert Phoenix was hosting, and we received a standing ovation at the performance, making the first public reception of my work very positive.
Post-Show Reflection: One of my favorite memories was Christopher O’Riley and the maestro’s rehearsal of the Shostakovich without the orchestral accompaniment – they both just hummed along during the piano breaks. I know it’s very specific, but it was so cool. It felt very comfortable to perform on that stage – there were so many steps to the actual performance that helped make it very easy, and very fun!
Music has the power to change live, bridge civilizations, entertain – essentially anything!
Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra (in a side-by-side performance with the DSO)
“The Great Gate of Kiev” from Pictures at an Exhibition
By: Modest Mussorgsky (orch. by Maurice Ravel)
Tiffany Mourlam, 18, viola
I absolutely love the Pictures at an Exhibition, and the “Great Gate of Kiev” is one of my favorite movements. I love the great contrasts between sections of the piece and how incredible the ending sounds. It’s one of the most magical pieces of music EVER. My favorite part is definitely the beginning, where the brass play the theme. It just feels so good to sit and listen to. I also enjoy the sections where the strings rest and the winds have a few bars to enjoy the music and transitions between sections of the piece. There’s nothing about this piece that I dislike!
The orchestration is incredible! Ravel was truly a master of orchestration, and I really like the way he chose to bring Mussorgsky’s ideas about the piece (as well as his own) into the music. It’s critical that the contrasts in this piece are pronounced because Ravel asks for so many different sounds and colors in Pictures at an Exhibition. The hardest thing was to achieve that difference in tone and color. I’ve loved this piece since I heard it as a child. Getting to play it is so fulfilling!
Post-Show Reflection: It was an incredible three days! I loved my backstage naps with Annie, and getting to introduce Mr. O’Riley and Tom (Voegli) to the extremely comfortable red chairs in the lounge. I also loved meeting my stand partner Valerie. The performance was incredible! The musicians were all so nice. At one point, I just looked around and couldn’t believe we were sitting with the DSO – one of my greatest childhood dreams come true!
Music has the power to connect people and change lives! I firmly believe that it has the power to promote peace and heal people.
Morgan Mitchell, 16, cello
Honestly the adrenaline rush I get from the Baba Yagá (the previous movement) is still with me, so the opening chords help me calm down and proceed. I absolutely love the dynamic contrasts because they keep me interested in what I am playing. My favorite memory of playing the piece was from this past summer in Litomyšl, because we were performing in a castle (a girl’s favorite place!) and I could feel everyone around me giving 100%.
This particular movement gives me the responsibility to convey and evoke emotion. It takes you out of your own brain and problems into a world of beauty and empowerment. The hardest things about the movement are sustaining the long notes with full pwer, and feeling as an ensemble. Compared to other pieces this one is not about virtuosity or showing off – it is about reflection.
Post-Show Reflection: Being on the Meyerson Hall stage sitting next to my teacher (who inspires me more than anyone) and feeling the realization of what I was doing was really powerful. The performance was the scariest, most special and humbling feeling ever. I love that stage, and everything it stands for in a musician’s life!
Music has the power to fill anything you do with passion by allowing you to give your all.
Annie Lehman, 18, harp
A sort of chordal texture starts the piece and quickly builds to (my favorite part) the big ending, which is so exhilarating to play and literally feel because you’re surrounded by the music when you are sitting in an orchestra.
Blending the sound with both the principle harpist and the rest of the orchestra is the most difficult part of learning this piece. Playing with a professional harpist adds a new dimension to playing in an orchestra, and provides a great learning experience.
Post-Show Reflection: My favorite moments were performing on the stage, being interviews by Christopher O’Riley, and seeing the behind-the-scenes of the show backstage. The show itself was AMAZING! I thought I would be nervous but I felt so comfortable talking and performing, and actually had tons of fun!
Music has the power to change everything – it can help others by allowing them bring across ideas that can’t be said with words, and can give you a knowledge of other cultures.
UPDATE AS OF 2.9.13 at 7:20 PM:
As you know winter storm Nemo has caused us to cancel From the Top’s Saturday, February 9 live taping event at NEC’s Jordan Hall. Unfortunately, we are unable to reschedule.
We are pleased to offer ticket buyers several options for purchased tickets:
Exchange. We would be happy to exchange your tickets to our next live taping at NEC’s Jordan Hall on Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 2 PM. If you are interested in this option, please email Robin Allen LaPlante at email@example.com with the subject line “EXCHANGE” and we will confirm your ticket exchange.
Donate: Please consider turning your ticket purchase into a tax-deductible, charitable gift to help From the Top carry out its mission of celebrating the power of music in the hands of extraordinary young people. If you are interested in this option, please email Robin Allen LaPlante at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “DONATE” and we will confirm your donation.
Refund: If you would like your ticket purchase refunded, please email Robin Allen LaPlante at email@example.com with the subject line “REFUND” and we will issue you a refund.
In case you are wondering, we were fortunate to be able to move our recording into a studio at WGBH, so you’ll be able to catch this wonderful group of performers on Classical New England, 99.5 FM, on March 17 at 11:00 AM.
We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to see you at a future From the Top taping!
From the Top has inspired the writers on America’s Favorite Quiz Show®, JEOPARDY! On Monday, February 4, JEOPARDY! contestants in the teen tournament were put to the test on their knowledge of all things classical music, under the category entitled “From the Top.” Our logo was even on the game board!
Alex Zhou, 11, violin
Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20
By: Pablo de Sarasate
My favorite part of the Zigeunerweisen is the fast, dancing section. I don’t really have a least favorite part of the piece. When I play the first half/slow part of the piece, I try to think of homeless people dressed in bright red dresses begging for food. Then, in the fast section, I imagine them rising up from their weary positions and dancing and twirling to the sound of violins.
When I play this piece, I think the things I need to get across are the many runs and arpeggios in the beginning, and the harmonics, left-hand pizzicatos, and spicatto at the end.
Post-Show Reflection: Other than performing, I really enjoyed the pizza party and hanging out with the other performers. It was quite nerve-wracking to perform in front of a huge crowd, but it was also really fun and a great performance.
Music has the power to empower, inspire, and create change.
Annie Wu, 16, flute
III. Lively, with Bounce from Duo for Flute and Piano
By: Aaron Copland
The Copland Duo is one of Copland’s works that emulates his signature American style. He uses many different rhythms and moods overall, and creates a bubbly, upbeat last movement. Some parts are even quite jazzy, and reflect Copland’s great interest in that genre. In the last movement, he switches back and forth between an energetic tune and a slower, jazzy one that reminds me of a drunken Cowboy. I especially love all the opportunities to explore articulations – some descending runs even sound like a hearty laugh to me – hahaha!
The Copland Duo is such a pleasure to play and perform because it truly is a piece of chamber music. There is a constant conversation between the flute and piano lines that makes every performance a new and exciting experience. The characters of this movement are also very distinctive and varying – I especially love exploring them and finding ways to connect everything together in just a few short minutes.
Post-Show Reflection: My favorite memory was definitely the performance – it was an amazing experience to play and then talk to Christopher O’Riley. The show was invigorating – there was such a huge and receptive audience.
Music has the power to bring out emotions in people and memories.
Alec Holcomb, 17, guitar
Prelude No.15 in D-flat Major, Raindrop
By: Frédéric Chopin (trans. József Eötvös)
There are very few pieces that fit well and sound decent on the guitar. Fortunately, this piece (which I heard my brother playing on the piano years ago and has since become one of my favorite pieces) does both. What’s interesting about this piece being played on the guitar as opposed to the piano is, as an intimate piece, the guitar has such a broad range of sounds and colors that can really tap into the mood(s) of the piece in a profound manner. The guitar, for the guitarist, is one of the most intimate instruments because the player can literally touch the notes, making this prelude all the more intimate. I like to think if Chopin, being as passionate about the guitar as he was, had decided to compose for guitar, he would have been hard-pressed to write a more fitting piece.
This piece was inspired by raindrops Chopin heard during a rainstorm (though he would not admit it). A few months ago in a competition, I could not have played this piece at a more appropriate time, as it was storming outside, and the raindrops were audible on the roof of the hall. I got a few comments on the irony of my music choice that day.
The range of dynamics on the piano, compared to the guitar, is much greater, especially on the forte end of the dynamic spectrum. The guitar, at its loudest, is still a relatively quiet instrument. One of the difficulties I had with this piece was creating the illusion of becoming ear-splittingly loud on the build of the B section (the storm-like section). To do this, I learned to manage my color and volume in a sort of process that accomplished this goal. One thing I introduced to this piece was setting piano as my normal volume, and when there was a need for more “oomph” I had plenty of room to crescendo, the immediately return to piano afterwards. I also learned to use the ponticello sound of the guitar to create a false crescendo, which gave me even more room to grow dynamically.
Phoebe Pan, 15, piano
“Soirée de Vienne” – Concert Paraphrase on Die Fledermaus by Strauss, Op. 56
By: Alfred Grünfeld
This particular piece is a very energetic and lively piece. It conveys a certain sense of lightheartedness, and being a waltz, it’s an easy piece to dance to. Whenever I play or hear it, I always think of a grand ballroom in Vienna and people waltzing with grins plastered on their faces.
The unique factor in this piece is that it’s a piano arrangement of an opera overture. Therefore, it’s slightly more difficult to convey the feeling of the piece. With an orchestra, you’ve got the power of the strings, the crystal clear woodwinds, and the rich sound of the brass section. So I somehow have to communicate all of that through one instrument: the piano.
Post-Show Reflection: I loved the competitive “quiz” after my performance ☺ I also really liked being backstage afterwards and talking to the other performers. The waiting part before my performance was a bit nerve-wracking, but as soon as I stepped on stage I was fine. It felt really good once I finished ☺
I believe that music has the power to change people’s lives and bring new opportunities to everyone.
The Angeles Trio
“Primaver Porteña” from The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
By: Astor Piazzolla
Kristina Zlatareva, 19, violin
I consider Piazzolla’s music to be very passionate and moving. Primaver Portena reminds me of a conversation between two Argentinian tango dancers – while playing it, I can imagine the intricate steps that are involved in a tango, and the precise and specific movements incorporated in the dance. My favorite part of this movement is the violin solo in the slower section, which responds to the cello solo just before. I see the violin solo as the female elegance and beauty in a tango.
It is crucial that the precise tempos and rhythms are kept clear. It is also important to not let go of emotions while playing, because it can take away from the precision of the sound, tempo, and clarity. It is crucial that the cello and violin blend together.
Post-Show Reflection: I loved talking on the show with Christopher O’Riley, and spending time with the other wonderful and talented fellow musicians on the show. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life: being able to share my passion for music with such a broad audience was definitely a dream come true.
Music has the power to change one’s mindset and view on the world in a positive way – it has the power to soother, cure and inspire.
JiSun Jung, 18, cello
I imagine the love between a woman and a man, like they are having a conversation with each other. The cello solo is like a man trying to attract the woman, and after that the piece goes back to the same them as the beginning.
This piece is divided into four seasons – we are playing “Spring.” Since this is a tango, the rhythm of this piece is really charming, and the cello solo is especially attractive.
Post-Show Reflection: My favorite memories were hanging out with/getting to know the other performers, the actual show, and the pizza party! The show was a new, fresh experience for me – I felt comfortable for both the interview and during the performance.
Music is something that makes people look inside, and feel passionate about their own power.
JiaYing Dong, 18, piano
This piece is about a dance called the “tango.” The music feels like it can be about a love story between a man and a woman. My favorite part of the piece is at the beginning – it’s the main theme.
This was the first time I ever played a dance piece, having never played tango music before. You have to capture the feeling right at the beginning.
Post-Show Reflection: My favorite memories were the actual concert and directly after, at the reception. The show was AWESOME! I felt really good, and it was so different than other performances I’ve done.
Music can bring pleasure to people, and make the world a better and happier place!