Piano department amplifies mix of age and lays solid foundation


Shane Louis

Kara Lenci, 17, performs at the Advanced Piano and Piano Ensemble Concert on March 12 at DVC.

Shane Louis, Co-editor-in-cheif

The Diablo Valley College Piano Department spotlighted the skills of students of all ages at their Advanced Piano and Piano Ensemble concert, proving just what the Music Department is capable of.

Music Building room M-101, nearly full of students and parents, was an excellent setting for this intimate concert.

The 10 performers each presented their pieces professionally, as would be expected of musicians of this caliber.

The highlight of the afternoon was Lydia Szczepanski’s performance of Chopin’s “Waltz in A-flat, Op 69, No. 1.” Throughout her performance, Szchepanski expressed emotions through her dynamic expression and smooth transitions between serious and playful sections of the piece.

Another unique element of the concert was the incorporation of soprano Emily Rae Fealy and baritone Toran Davenport, who both conveyed the deep sense of feeling in their songs despite the fact that they were both in foreign languages.

“Each pianist has their own style,” says program director Bruce Cook.

He is passionate about his students and even keeps in touch with many who have gone on to complete graduate programs.

Ronni Jackl has been a student in the piano department for, as she put it, “many years,” but she still says she continues to learn from the class. “Every semester you’re getting better and playing new music,” she says.

In contrast, Kara Lenci performed Brahms’ “Waltz in A, Op. 39, No. 15” with the skill of a well-trained pianist, and she’s only 17 years old.

Another student who started the program at a young age is Stella Vivian, 18, who came to DVC from Indonesia when she was 16 years old and now plans to transfer to a four-year school and study piano performance.

Professor Cook quickly pointed out that CSU Fullerton accepted her on the spot at her audition.

“I had to fight for everything I have,” Vivian says as she recounts how her family was not excited about her pursuing a career in music. “Music is the one of the thing I really enjoy.” Two years in the DVC music program has helped her prepare to transfer.

Margie Tong and Megan Mui are both a part of the pedagogy class, which they say has helped teach them how to teach.

“I had been teaching one student before,” Mui says. “But now it’s challenging because we teach groups. ”

She originally attended DVC from 2008-2010, and after completing her bachelors degree at University of California at San Diego, she came back to defer student loans and continue learning.

Tong currently teaches after-school programs in Orinda. She says she came back to DVC after graduating from CSU Chico specifically to take music theory, but she ended up helping with the pedagogy class as well. “I’ve learned a lot from research, reading and observing how other teachers here teach,” she says.

Tong understands music is being connected, and Mui agrees: “I come back to it because I miss the community.”

More information about the piano classes and concerts are available on the DVC website.