Hosting its first in-person family concert in over two years due to the pandemic, on October 15, the Philadelphia Orchestra featured pianist William Ge ’25, one of the winners of the Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition. Playing the first movement of “Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major” by W. A. Mozart as a soloist with the orchestra, Ge showcased his unique musical interpretation at his stage debut.
According to Ge, his attempt at winning the competition lasted for three years from 2016 to 2019, and while he was unable to pass the preliminary rounds the first two attempts, his last attempt brought him to the final round. However, due to the pandemic, his soloist debut was postponed for over two years.
“It was this third year in which I really managed to claw my way up to that final round of three people… They had to delay it many years until, eventually, they managed to finally schedule it for October 15th, which was the date that I performed this year. I was very lucky too, because after [Covid-19], they didn’t host that competition again, and I don’t know if they plan to host it ever again. Hopefully they do, because it’s a great opportunity,” said Ge.
Verizon Hall in the Kimmel Center, where Ge performed, is a 2500-seat venue with four floors of seating. Ge expressed his excitement for performing in front of his largest audience yet, as well as being able to connect with a younger audience.
“It was a family concert, so there were a lot of kids in the audience, and a lot of parents as well. I think the coolest thing is, afterwards, there were a lot of four, five, six year old kids that actually came up to me and said they themselves were interested in music, or their parents were saying that they also played instruments… I think being able to connect with the next generation, and being able to show them the relatability in performing classical music… was definitely really cool,” said Ge.
Ge added that his interaction with older and younger audience members spans since before his time at Andover. Ge participated in several volunteering and community services around his hometown area, which involved performing community concerts to senior citizens and children, and teaching children music for free. He explained that these experiences allowed him to explore different interpretations of various pieces.
“I think my favorite thing about classical music is that it’s really flexible in terms of the situation. You can use it to evoke tons of different emotions and convey various emotions that you can’t through words or a visual medium… I sort of developed my own sense of style through these community concerts… really bringing out the historical aspect of these pieces… brings another level of depth to performance,” said Ge.
Tianyi Evans Gu ’25, Ge’s friend and roommate, expressed his excitement and pride for Ge’s recent achievements. Gu highlighted Ge’s remarkable ability to manage his passions outside of music, such as physics and math.
“I think it’s really impressive, knowing that one of your friends is a world class musician. I’m really proud of him for his accomplishments. He works really hard, so it’s cool to see him out there. It’s so impressive how he can be really good at so many different aspects and still be so talented [at piano]. He really balances things well here at Andover,” said Gu.
Watching Hilary Hahn’s performance of “Violin Concerto in D Major” by Tchaikovsky with the Philadelphia Orchestra live after his performance, sparked his excitement for his journey as a soloist ahead of him said Ge.
“It’s basically impossible to be able to get this type of performance opportunity, unless you become a soloist, other than the Greenfield Competition. Since that’s discontinuing, this was a preview of what the soloist life is like… It gave me something to work towards, or an idea of what my life would be like if I really decided to pursue music,” said Ge.