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!