Allen Yu Plays an Exciting Program for Fourth Grade Students in His Hometown
This past spring Allen Yu, seventeen-year-old pianist from Cohoes, NY and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award recipient, performed for all of the fourth grade students in his school district! Even more exciting, he enlisted the help of his From the Top friends from his radio taping in Northfield, MA! With the help of seventeen-year-old cellist Julian Langford, and fifteen-year old violinist, Sirena Huang, Allen put together a fun and interactive program.
“It was a wonderful experience for the three of us, but the best part was seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces.
Allen says more about his interactive school performance…
FTT: How did you get fellow alums Julian Langford and Sirena Huang to join your project?
Allen: Julian, Sirena, and I met while we were taping From the Top at the Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts last fall. We became great friends almost instantly, and we had a great three days together. After our Arts Leadership Workshop, there was no doubt in our minds that we wanted to do a community program together .
FTT: Could you tell us more about your program and what kind of repertoire you chose to play?
Allen: We purposely played music that each student [would] recognize: Vieuxtemp’s “Yankee Doodle Variations,” Mozart’s “Twinkle Twinkle Variations,” and Saint-Saen’s “The Swan” from Carnival of the Animals.
The interactive activities kept the audience on the edge of their seats, and everyone seemed to enjoy the program. We each talked about our instruments, and we had a question-and-answer session. We concluded the day’s program with a Beethoven Trio, and we talked about the importance of working together.
FTT: What was the most memorable part of the program for you?
Allen: One of the things we did after we played the trio was [to show] how cooperation is the key to the group’s success. The previous day, whilst Julian, Sirena, and I were rehearsing, we were seated awkwardly–so it was a bit difficult for all of us to see each other.
We got to a point where we started loudly counting-off at parts where we just weren’t together. We even had to resort to shouting (only friendly shouts, of course). So, we thought it would be a great idea to show this to the audience.
FTT: What was the experience like for you?
Allen: It was a wonderful experience for the three of us, but the best part was seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces. Knowing that three high school students were able to bring classical music to hundreds of kids who are constantly immersed in the Soulja-Boy-Lady-Gaga-Miley-Cyrus culture is definitely something special.
FTT: What advice would you give other musicians interested in doing a similar project?
Allen: Talk to your school and your principal; they are always willing to help. This kind of project works best with elementary students (they are old enough to appreciate good music yet too young to learn how to throw lemons at the performers).
Always smile and make each and every audience member feel like a part of this program. Make sure every person takes something away from your performance.