How to Get to Carnegie Hall

Imagine you are poised at the top of a mountain. Your goggles fog and press sharply against the bridge of your nose. Your toes tingle from the chill of Torino ice. And suddenly, you realize – you are at the Olympics. Playing at New York City’s Carnegie Hall isn’t all that different. Peter Tchaikovsky conducted at its opening night on May 5, 1891, and the Hall has refused to house lesser company since then. Horovitz, Rubenstein, and Rachmaninoff have all concretized at its facility, which is renowned for both its architecture and exquisite acoustics. On January 28th, in honor of Mozart’s birthday, Jae Han ’06, cellist Kevin Olusola ’06, and violinist Paul Joo ’08 were invited to play at Carnegie Hall. There, at one of the most legendary and glorious concert halls in the world, they performed Mozart’s Piano Trio in G Major, K 564, Allegretto to a sold out audience as part of the American Fine Arts Festival. Han and Olusola also had the double prestige of closing the recital with solo performances, Han with the 3rd movement of Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ Piano Sonata and Olusola, with Bach’s Solo Cellos Suite No. 3 in C Major. The trio was selected for the Fine Arts spring recital and was awarded for his outstanding performance last May. Auditions for the Festival were held in the fall of 2005 at the Brookline Public Library. Although the trio was still reeling from the swing of summer vacation, they were more than prepared for the competition. They received the double benefit of instruction from both Adjunct Instructor in Music Duncan Cummings and Ludmila Bekker, Han’s private teacher in North Andover. “Mr. Cummings was awfully encouraging,” Joo recalls. “His flexibility gave us the liberty to experiment with the music.” Mrs. Bekker, alternately, was the driving force behind their training. “She really pushed us; nothing got by her. She was brutally honest, but that’s what we needed more than anything.” “I didn’t think it would happen to me though,” Joo admitted. “I don’t plan on becoming a musician, and I didn’t believe that I would every have such an opportunity.” And when the time came for him to step on the New York stage, “it was surreal,” he grinned. Olusola was equally stunned. “I got up there, and there was such great vibrancy, great energy, and it was absolutely amazing.” Han concurred, “Yeah. It was sweet.” Their performance certainly did not go unnoticed by the crowd. “Everyone kept coming up to me after the concert, asking me who these boys were, and how did they play with such conviction,” Mrs. Bekker laughed. “I told them it was hard work. Every phrase, every pause was examined, polished, and internalized.” And so goes the old saying: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice, practice.”