Yixuan Zhao ’18 Balances Contrasting Tones on the Flute

Beginning with a soft, quiet melody, flutist Yixuan Zhao ’18 dipped her head to follow the notes as they built to a fast and lively tempo. The piano accompaniment grew louder as Zhao’s playing intensified, peaking in a series of sharp, loud notes. Zhao then played a string of crisp, joyful notes in a high melody. After taking a brief pause, the song shifted to a darker tone with long, low notes.

“One thing that was challenging about [the piece] expressively was that there are a lot of sections in the piece that are really different. There are fast [parts], lively [parts], and slow singing parts, so getting the changes in color between those sections was challenging, and technically speaking, there are a lot of parts that were really fast and required a lot of fingerwork,” said Zhao.

Zhao played the song “Poems” by Charles Griffes, which she learned when she was younger and brought back a few years later. She performed the song from memory, leading to a couple of shaky moments, according to Zhao.

“My flute teacher thought it suited me really well expressively, so she thought it was a good choice [for the recital]. I think [the performance] went well in terms of expression. I think I really brought out a lot of the nuances of the piece,” said Zhao.

While performing, Zhao tried to convey the various moods of the songs by thinking of them as colors. She envisioned the darker sounds to be dark colors like purple and blue, and the lighter, happier sounds to be warmer colors like yellow.

Zhao, a Senior from Shrewsbury, Mass., has been playing the flute for nine years.