A dozen Seniors stood before the Instructors of the Music Department last fall, picked up their instruments and each played a solo in the hopes of earning the opportunity to perform at their own Senior Concerto later in the year.
Among the winners were violinists Tony Choi ’15 and Josh Kim ’15 and flutist Vivian Liu ’15. The low hum of the violin and the soft whistle of the flute filled Cochran Chapel during their Senior Concerto last Saturday night. Deep chords of the piano joined the instruments as Christopher Walter, Instructor in Music, accompanied all the three soloists’ long compositions on piano.
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## Tony Choi
Growing up, Tony Choi ’15 attended a fine arts elementary school. When he was 11 years old, he asked his parents to let him learn the violin. This early exposure to music sparked a lifelong passion for Choi.
“Everything has to be perfect [when playing the violin]. Your finger has to be in the right position; if it’s one millimeter away, it’ll sound bad. Aside from technical skills, I like the artistic side because when you get a piece, you can choose what you want to do. Every note has a significance,” said Choi.
Choi is currently a member of Andover-Lawrence Strings, a community service program in which Andover students teach string instruments to children from the Lawrence Family Development Charter School and the UP Academy Leonard School in Lawrence.
“This is my third year teaching… Jensey, [a Lawrence student], the violin. He is always the first one to run into the classroom with the biggest smile on his face. He reminds me of when I first learned how to play the violin in a similar after-school program. I had to beg my mom to sign me up, and that is undoubtedly the best decision I have ever made. Teaching him allows me to escape… and take a deep breath away from my personal life,” said Choi.
In the Senior Concerto, Choi performed “Violin Concerto, Op. 14” by Samuel Barber. The piece started off slow and steady before speeding up. The pitch crescendoed before tumbling back down, while piano notes provided a bright undertone.
Audience member Jules Gilligan ’17 said, “I liked how the piece switched from two different moods very quickly and went back and forth. There was a kind of slow, technically challenging [part] and then a fast [part] that was somewhat more simple, but lively.”
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## Vivian Liu
Sitting in her music teacher’s house, eight year old Vivian Liu ’15 struck the keys of the piano. Suddenly, her attention turned to the trill of a flute emerging from an adjacent room where her teacher’s husband was teaching a student. Soon after, Liu decided to start playing the flute.
“I feel like [playing the flute] is a way to escape everything when you’re just focusing on music and… creating an art form. I feel like when I’m playing music I’m only thinking about what I’m producing, not really what’s around me,” said Liu.
Although she has been playing the flute for ten years now, Liu’s favorite memory of the instrument came last fall during the Matriculation Ceremony.
“It was the first time I had ever performed in front of that many people, and so it was both really nerve-racking and exhilarating. The excitement of all the new students sitting in the Cochran Chapel was definitely contagious, and it got me reminiscing about my beginning at Andover. My performance was probably going to be one of the first impressions the students were going to have regarding music on campus, and I think I did well!” wrote Liu in an email to _The Phillipian_.
Liu selected “Flute Concerto” by Carl Nielsen as her concerto piece. The composition started off with a fast-paced piano intro, which signaled the flute’s entrance. Short and staccato flute notes pierced the air, along with alternating mellow low notes. Throughout the song, the piano provided strong bass notes, creating a balance of sound.
“I think this is a very odd piece, one of the most odd pieces that I’ve ever played before. The notes and the rhythms are very different, and that’s what I was drawn to. Also with the piano… playing the orchestra part, so I think altogether I really liked the sound,” said Liu.
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## Josh Kim
Josh Kim ’15 started playing the violin over ten years ago at his mother’s request; however, after watching the Tanglewood Music Festival in western Massachusetts during the summer before ninth grade, Kim’s attitude towards music drastically changed.
“I realized that there are people who spend their lives dedicating themselves to music, and I felt that because of all the nature and forests around the festival, it was a particularly fit place to appreciate the music. Seeing music being played in that kind of setting was really touching,” said Kim, “At the same time you get to see world renowned soloists and connect with people my age who were actually a lot more dedicated to music than I was, so it was a good inspiration for me. I learned a lot from them.”
For the Senior Concerto, Kim performed “Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63” by Sergei Prokofiev. The piece started off slow and fluid with mournful undertones. Then, it took on a bright, cheerful tone, but a constant melancholy edge brought out by unexpected flat notes pervaded the song. The violin sped up and slowed down at sudden intervals, playing both melodic notes and harsh plucks, while the piano clashed with the violin, furthering the atmosphere of chaos and sadness by creating discordant sound. Finally, the piece closed on a seemingly unfinished note with one last pluck.
“My favorite part about my piece is that it has a variety of characters. It’s got a very mean part… It has a very ferocious, violent character. But at the same time it can suddenly transform into a beautiful melody line, something very calm and peaceful, very provocative,” said Kim.