Orchestra Concert Features Budding Virtuosos

“I am stunned,” said April Liang ’11 after last Friday’s orchestra concert, which featured Senior Concertos by Bobby Chen ’10 and Jennifer Chew ’10. “They are so talented.” Chen, a cellist, performed the first Senior Concerto of the 2009-2010 school year, with Cello Concerto in B minor Op. 104, B. 191 by Antonin Dvorák. The Academy Chamber Orchestra kept a rhythmic marching tempo throughout much of the piece, following conductor James Orent. Chen’s animated performance showcased both his technical prowess and musicality. While his fingers moved rapidly over the fingerboard, his facial expressions mirrored both the cheerful and melancholy emotions throughout the piece. Chen’s playing reflected a sophisticated and profound understanding of music, “Just like Yo-Yo Ma,” said Hee Soo Limb, audience member and parent of a student performer. At one point, the orchestra paused while Chen executed a particularly impressive cadenza, later coming back in full force. The concerto then transitioned to a soft, sweet melody with a soaring cello-violin duet, with concertmaster Angela Kim ’12. The concerto ended with a powerful and dramatic sequence of chords. “[Chen’s concerto] was so beautiful and poignant,” said Jasmine Edison ’11. The large crowd in Cochran Chapel seemed to agree, as they gave Chen a standing ovation. Chen took a gracious bow, making the audience laugh by holding up a bouquet of flowers and a penguin balloon he had received from his friends and family. After the intermission, Chew sat down at the Steinway grand piano that had been moved to the center of the Chapel stage. Accompanied by the entire Academy Symphony Orchestra, Chew played the first movement of Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat Major “Emperor,” Op. 73 by Ludwig van Beethoven. The presence of the large orchestra added to the grandiose feel of the piece. Bold, deliberate chords and brass fanfares transformed the Chapel into an emperor’s court. The string instruments accompanied Chew’s flurry of scales with delicate pizzacato. The concerto was divided into two sections: one melody resembling the solemn march of an emperor and another depicting the enchanting, dreamy, and sentimental qualities of the same emperor. The strings ascended with arpeggios, building up in a dramatic crescendo just before finishing the twenty-minute piece with a powerful cadence. “I can’t believe she played that from memory,” said Jenny Zhou ’11. “‘The Emperor Concerto’ is not an easy piece.” The Orchestra Concert also featured a cello septet, which performed an arrangement of Claude Debussy’s Claire de Lune by Edward Lant. The instruments harmonized perfectly together, elegantly interpreting the surreal, drifting melody of the piece. The Corelli Ensemble played Concerto Grosso No. 8 “Christmas” by Arcangelo Corelli. At first, the strings played slow, legato phrases while Rainer Crosett ’10 performed a beautiful cello solo. Propelled by the ascending and descending double bass, the piece sped up, and the melody weaved in and out through different instruments. The end of the piece had a waltz-like feel and a clear vocal melody that made it sound like a Christmas carol. This merry, joyful section ended cleanly on a sustained, fading note. The Chapel seemed to fill with hundreds of bees as Amadeus Ensemble began Suite for String Orchestra by Frank Bridge. The flighty melody rolled, swooped and zoomed, then paused dramatically before beginning anew. The next movement had a slightly eerie tone, with mournful melodies played by Andrew Mitchell ’11 and Enek Peterson ’12. After the piece, conductor Christina Landolt, Instructor in Music, and concertmaster Greg Zhang ’12 took a bow, bumping elbows instead of shaking hands as a tribute to the H1N1 virus. The audience chuckled appreciatively.