Advanced Ensemble: Student pianists perform in recital premiere

Regina Ortanez, Staff member

The first piano concert of the new year happened in a miniature auditorium of sorts in room 101 of the music building on Feb. 13.

As the audience, roughly half full, settled into their seats, the host Bruce Cook, gave an introduction and some information about each of the pieces that were going to be performed at this advanced piano and piano ensemble recital.

The first piece was performed by Adrian Go, an elderly man who slowly made his way to the grand piano and surprised many by the transformation of his shaky hands into graceful and nimble little creatures that never ceased to stop moving up and down the keys.  Though the classic piece, “Etudes Tableaux Op. 33, No. 8,” by Sergei Rachmaninoff, gradually became more and more complex, the dexterity of Go’s playing never faltered.  Go’s interpretation of this Russian piece was melancholic, yet it moved and ended with a beautiful crescendo, setting the bar for the rest of the concert performers.

​Following the first performance was John Veitch and Angel Liu, performing “Scarborough Fair,” a traditional piece arranged by Jay Althouse.  Liu’s graceful piano playing was accompanied by Veitch’s rich baritone vocals, which seemed almost effortless.  Veitch looked borderline bored as his opera-worthy voice filled the small auditorium.

The third performance was by John Yoonon on the violin with Chia Yu Chang on the piano.  Chang seamlessly played her part in this duo and the high pitch of Yoon’s violin both complimented and accentuated the French piece, “Salutd’Amour, Op. 12” by Edward Elgar.

Next came Karen Snow, who gave a brief introduction to her piece by Claude Debussy and why she chose to perform the song, “Arabesque 1.” She explained that the traditional definition of an arabesque is “a piece or a portion of a piece that is ornamental and flowing”  and her performance of the piece definitely reflected that, with her flawless playing that captured the flowing visual of an arabesque.

Following Snow’s performance was Joe Patute, who opted to play a more modern piece, “My Funny Valentine,” written by Patute’s music teacher in high school, Richard Rogers.  This piece was less serious than the former ones, but its lightheartedness provided a nice change of pace in the concert. Matching the piece, Patute’s demeanor while performing was playful as well, with his foot tapping and body dancing throughout his performance.

The concert’s finale was “Concerto in C minor for Two Pianos” by J.S. Bach, played in two parts.  The first part, “Allegro,” was performed by Ronni Jackl and Angel Liu on piano with John Yoon on violin I, Chia Yu Chang on violin II, Grace U. Mun on viola and Dean Hiuro on cello.  Jackl and Liu were impressively harmonious in their piano playing.  Liu seemed to be more comfortable performing this difficult piece than in her performance with Veitch, while Jackl seemed to already be a seasoned professional with her skilled fingers dancing effortlessly across the piano.

Hiuro’s cello really added to this performance, offsetting the violin and viola with its deeper tones.  This was the most complex piece in the concert by far, the undiscernible symbols on the music sheets looking like gibberish even from the front row. Jackl and Liu were replaced by Stella V. Pramudji and Karen Snow for the second part of the finale, “Adagio.”  The piece began slow and gradually built up to become more complex with the addition of the plucking of the violins, but was definitely more minimal than the first part. This piece seemed to be mostly centered on the piano playing, which did not disappoint.  It gave a graceful finish to the concert, which turned out to be surprisingly short.

This was just the first of the spring 2014 piano concert series with more performances scheduled later this semester on March 13, April 10 and May 8.