Davies Hall, piano,

A worthwhile Journey to George Li’s triumphant Davies Hall piano recital

Facebook was abuzz with reminders of George Li’s touchdown in the Bay Area’s glittering Davies concert hall, a venue that absorbs a splash of pastel beams from the neighboring flagship government building. Glass panels reflect back montages of color that provide a rush of excitement for ticket holders slipping into seats right under the bell.

FB “friends” and faithful George “followers” were PAGE alerted to a MEET and GREET event in the lobby following the recital. It would be a shower of support for a pianist we’d seen and heard by LIVE-Stream from exotic locations including Moscow and Verbier. Frames in progress had included George’s Silver Medal triumph at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, magnified on computer screens around the world!


The Back Story

From my humble perch in Berkeley, I’d set aside 75 conscientious minutes to get to Davies Hall. It was a conservative travel measure, given lax Sunday train schedules and my propensity to get mired in Civic Center traffic as a clueless pedestrian in foreign urban terrain. (San Francisco’s maze of complex street crossings and intersections, bundled in congestion, had always seriously confused me, impeding on-foot progress in any direction).

Yet, despite well-intended, precautionary travel efforts, I couldn’t have anticipated a vexing single platform BART crisis that launched a crescendo of complications right up to my shaky finish line arrival at Davies. There, at its entrance, my concert companion/adult piano student stood patiently, dispatching block-to-block text messages to keep me on track.

With good luck and concerted teamwork, we made it to our first tier balcony seats just as George advanced toward a shining model D Steinway grand.

It was a pure bliss erasure of prior travails:

Melted deceptive cadences rippled through a crystalline rendering of Haydn’s B minor Sonata (No. 30) as trills and ornaments immaculately decorated clear melodic lines in a liquid outpouring of phrases. The middle Minuet movement was charmingly played passing with grace to a culminating Presto in brisk, bravura tempo with unswerving attention to line, shape, and contour.

Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata in F minor, op. 57, followed with tonal variation and keen structural awareness. The performance was both gripping and directional, wrapped in ethereal tonal expression.

Li’s singular sound autograph permeates his performances amidst an array of varying nuances and articulations. He has what pianist, Uchida terms “charisma” and a singular tonal personality.

Meaning and musical context are core ingredients of Li’s artistry and his wide palette of colors are at his liquid disposal through deeply felt effusions of expression. (While Li is a natural, intuitional performer, his sensitive fusion of aesthetics and intellect is always on display, exposed, as well in media interviews.)

A Presto Classical set of queries elicited thoughtful responses.



The Davies Hall recital, continued after Intermission with a rippling roll-out of works by Rachmaninoff and Liszt, all imbued with a permeating spirit of mature music-making that’s intrinsic to Li’s ongoing ripening process. And as a cap to a memorable evening of inspired artistry, George played his final encore–a pyro-technically charged Bizet/Carmen transcription that drove listeners to their feet in a chorus of BRAVOS!!! (This snapshot was provided by a friend who had permission to publicly post it, thanks to Li’s generosity and that of his representatives)

In a culminating MEET and GREET event, post-recital, audience members had an opportunity to share IN PERSON enthusiasm and appreciation of George’s artistry, while purchasing the artist’s newly released CD.

For me, a tete a tete with George, provided an opportunity to thank him for his generosity as a teen when he delivered well-conceived responses to my reams of technically framed questions about practicing, technique, and repertoire.


Finally, here’s an encore of gratitude to George for his inspired love of music, and for his reach into our hearts with each memorable performance. Come back soon!

Frances Clark, Louise Goss, piano blog, piano instruction, piano technique, piano tone production, Piano World, piano,, piano, piano teaching, piano playing, pianos lessons, Shirley Kirsten blog, youtube.com

An 8-Year old begins piano lessons!

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An exciting musical journey has begun! Liz, an 8-year old who prances by my apartment singing mellifluously, became my newest piano student last night. Her lesson opened with, “Welcome to a universe of the imagination,” an inspired framing that kept student and teacher riveted to 45 minutes of collaborative music-making. (The duet form was the perfect vehicle to grow the child’s earliest relationship to the piano.) It evoked memories of my Russian mentor who played harmonically rich Secondo parts, while at 6, I tinkered with three-note Diller Quaille melodies beside her.

“Ding Dong” was my signature piece, brought to life each week in a bed of blossoming sonorities that Mrs. Vinagradov provided. She’d mentored me in a tiny attic space of the quaint Kingsbridge Music School perched on a hill in the Bronx.


Yesterday’s FACEBOOK message that I’d posted hours before Liz’s lesson, was the harbinger of delights to come in a shared “new” environment of musical growth. It was also my reconnection with the world of children, who’d faded into the past as pupils since my teaching efforts were redirected toward adults.

“Exciting day!” I announced in the warm glow of social media friends!

“I’m starting a brand new beginner this evening–An 8-year old whose parents are safe-keeping my Steinway M grand. This will be a journey of imagination, expression, colors, emotion, natural, flowing connections to the keys, and intertwined relaxed breathing. I look forward to a mutually enriched learning adventure.”

In preparation for the maiden event, I’d browsed many teaching materials, finally settling upon Time to Begin, a Music Tree primer, that was originally created by Frances Clark. Ironically, I’d shelved a very early edition of the book that I’d used to teach one of my children at the tender age of 4, yet into the present many of the duets we’d played were included in the latest 2000 renewed copyright. (The cover and book lay-out had become more appealing, while the fundamental teaching philosophy remained intact.)

Clark, to her credit, did not embrace five-finger crutch learning, but taught students to rotate fingers around landmark notes (Treble G, Bass clef F, and Middle C), which promoted solid note-reading and other skills. It definitely earned my support for the MUSIC TREE series with its development over the years. (Note co-editors, Louise Goss and Sam Holland)

Right Side up Music Tree

Finally, as follow-up to Liz’s first lesson, I’ve posted three recorded segments that launch the “series” “LIZ’s Piano JOURNEY” that welcomes comments from teachers, students, and all piano lovers.

P.S. Camera angles will be adjusted and improved for forthcoming weekly videos.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

A CD with colorful accompaniments comes with the Primer

CD Time to Begin

CD reverse Time to Begin