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.

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/interview/1893/George-Li-Live-at-the-Mariinsky

***

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.

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/my-interview-with-george-li-a-seasoned-pianist-at-16/

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!

piano, piano lessons, piano recital, Uncategorized

A Happy Day for a 9-yr. old piano student playing on her first recital

Maeve, aka “Liz” was welcomed into the universe of music sharing in the beautiful Oakland Hills of California. What better backdrop, cloaked in nature, as breezes wafted through branches, shaking out leaves in graceful patterns. The images, extracted from the East Bay’s gorgeous panorama are in Maeve’s mental repository, as they feed relaxed energy down her arms into supple wrists. Many Russian piano teachers draw on the “weeping willow” tree model, in particular, to inspire fluidity of movement. Graceful approaches to the keyboard that are in synch with phrase contours do not happen by chance. They are nurtured along by mentors with great care.

Maeve has learned in this spirit for a bit over a year’s time, having been exposed to the singing tone and how to physically produce it. From the very start of lessons we have integrated composing, ear-training, theory, structure, with an underlying MUSICAL framing. Sound is imagined before it can be channeled into the keyboard in physical motion. This very sensitivity begins from day 1 continuing in increments through developmental phases.

Maeve’s own journey has been logged in videos from late February 2016 to the present. These can be found on You Tube under “LIZ’s” piano lessons.

***

Today was a Rite of Passage as all first recitals are. Can we remember our own? In my day, there were no cell phones, camcorders, computers, etc.–perhaps just old-fashioned home movies generated by what would be considered antiquated hardware—Nothing like the mega-technology of the 21rst Century. I have no personal recollection of playing in a group recital at my humble music school on Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx. Not even a Brownie camera captured my first Diller-Quaille, two-note “Ding-Dong” piece that required my Russian teacher, Mrs. Vinagradov to accompany me to make the music sound full and resonant. That’s why I hungered constantly for our rich harmonic collaboration, having to wait for too many years before I was allowed to play with TWO hands–ADD in the White NOTE obsession of this era’s teaching, and delayed exposure to the Bass Clef which instilled fears of moving forward.

Thankfully the state of the teaching art is different today, more progressive than regressive, breaking down inhibitions of the past associated with MIDDLE C fixated madness and black note avoidance.

The fortunate beneficiaries of this new learning/teaching consciousness are Maeve and many of her contemporaries.

Today’s recital revealed the fruits of collective labors. Maeve was poised and determined to SHARE the pure beauty of the music she had so thoroughly learned. It was her entry into the world of giving and receiving that will propel her studies along with heartfelt commitment.

A big Thank You to the host of the group recital, Betty Woo, on behalf of the Music Teachers Association of California, MTAC.

***

Flashback: Maeve’s First Piano Lesson (parts 1, 2 and 3)

There are many more sample lessons with Liz on You Tube.

adult piano recital, Live and Skype piano recital, piano blog, piano recital rehearsal, Skype

Rehearsing for the Big Day! LIVE/SKYPE piano student recital

Peter at piano cropped

Peter, originally from Sweden, has been studying piano since January 2014. (He started from scratch without any note reading experience.)

Working in the technology field, keeping long hours staring at a computer screen, he wanted to study piano for pure tension relief, and lucky for his teacher, Peter loves his Classical music journey.

As one of my LIVE Berkeley students, he’s made quite a bit of progress, and now has the confidence to play for an audience of combined ONLINE/LIVE sisters and brothers in a music sharing scheduled for Sunday, March 15th.

Last night we fine tuned his two recital pieces: A Two-part invention framed arrangement of “Go No More A’Rushing” (Elizabethan theme/Willard Palmer) and Sadness by Turk.

Naturally, with most students, performance anxiety and strategies to deal with it are part of the preparation process which will be ongoing as we approach the event.

Lesson Excerpts from the Palmer and Turk compositions:

(My Baldwin piano will be tuned this coming Monday in readiness for the 15th)

Flashback to Peter playing a duet with me, 5 weeks into his piano study in Feb. 2014

PRE-TEST for SKYPE/LIVE piano recital
https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/preparing-for-a-skypelive-student-recital/

Andras Schiff, Andreas Schiff piano recital, piano blog, piano blogging, San Francisco Davies Hall, Shirley Kirsten

Andras Schiff in recital at S.F. Davies Hall (Feb. 15, 2015)

Schiff program Feb. 15

Pianist, Andras Schiff delivered an uneven performance at San Francisco’s Davies Hall yesterday afternoon.

Those who expected the pianist to play his signature Bach program were pleasantly surprised by Schiff’s insertions of self-imposed Baroque style ornaments in Mozart’s “Drawing Room” Sonata, K. 545.(in particular) As whimsical as it might have seemed, the “improvisation” was out of character with the era and the composer.

(Perhaps audiences might have liked something “different” as Glenn Gould often chanted.)

While I hadn’t managed to snatch the Allegro which was by far the movement most subjected to shifty Schiff’s impish escapades, he still gave his audience a tweaked version of the finale, Rondo: Allegretto, inserting an elaborate cadenza in the space of a modest rest.

In the middle Andante movement, Schiff chose a rather brisk tempo that didn’t encompass a mournful shift to the pathos-filled g minor section.

Yet, Schiff’s offerings that included the works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert were satisfying, despite his waffling approach.

Tonally, he lightened up to the point of losing a visceral connection to the piano. It was often powderpuff, skimming-the-surface playing, alternated with a sudden intensity that never quite took hold for the length needed.

The Beethoven Sonata in E Major, Op. 109 was a case in point. While it had an appealing, expressively played opening, Schiff failed to communicate the composer’s extremes in temperament/dynamics. Instead, he took a reserved and risk-free route. To my surprise, a sudden, well-sought character transformation occurred in Schubert’s powerful C minor Sonata that brought the period and composer into clearer focus.

Schiff’s Schubert’s Impromptu in Eb, Op. 90, (an encore) was spun out gracefully, though with an inner voice emphasis that at times, was more contrapuntal than Romantic. In one set of measures, the pianist created a syncopated accent that I found jarring, wondering why he had chosen that particular bass note nuance. Yet in the fabric of the whole performance, he mesmerized an audience that cheered him from opening measure to final cadence.

classical sonata, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, testing for buzzes in a piano

Piano buzzes can wreak havoc!

We all know about the note zinging nuisance that plagues students and teachers at inopportune times. Like getting ready to perform on the big Spring recital.. A run over the 88’s has a MIDDLE C blockade. The noise has infiltrated the most celebrated note in the method book cosmos, making the BLACK ones feel cheated of equal access. (https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/bias-against-black-notes-stopped-me-in-my-tracks-video/)

But what’s activated the dreaded zing? A paper clip is holding two pages of music together on the rack. Grab it and toss it aside with a flick of the wrist, making sure it’s sent into the audience area, where it can be secured and controlled.

Oh, no! The nagging noise persists.

Check the refreshment table for forks and spoons that might be sending covert messages to the hammers and strings– a form of terrorism that’s been unleashed on innocent pianists who are trying to get through 3 minutes of playing without a hitch!

I feel for the poor 5-year old who’s going to perform “That Thing has No Name,” a short piece the kid has NAILED.

That’s it! The pictures on the wall! It must be the nails holding them up. Quick, take them down and banish the mean-spirited buzz forever!

No luck!

Amidst a pile of hooks, nails, and double-sided adhesives, the fallen pics stacked high, the nasty nestling, gnawing noisemaker has dug in deeper, evading capture. (There’s gotta be CELLS of them)

Wait, it’s the cell phone in my pocket. I’ll turn it off, and put it in the locker down the hall, secured by my gym lock. Another hot potato. I should have every parent frisked for smart phones, digital cams and house keys before being seated.

What else?

OK, I’m convinced! It’s gotta be in the piano’s keyhole. I’ll fold down the rack and press hard in the area right above it, pushing my finger against it while testing the note. Then I’ll say the Bruches (Hebrew prayers) while I’m at it.

Nuts! I’m outta ideas!

Wait, there’s a nut cracker on the table for an unshelled assortment–Move the whole show into the hallway. NO one should be crackin’ ’em until the last little one has uncorked her piece.

OMG. I warned parents about bringing alcoholic beverages. Get the darn corkscrew out of here. It’s gotta be causing the ZING!

Forget it! Just live with it, or have the kids play on the piano off in the corner, with their backs to the audience. At least they’ll get a clean-sounding C, without a worry in the world.. unless they forget their music. (not to worry I have all their sheet music in a portable METAL safe. Oops I didn’t do a safe removal test. Enough already! The show must go on!)

**

Buzzin’ Ds and ME!

The heck with it! PLAYING THROUGH to the end.

LINK: The final word on note buzzes
https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/the-final-word-on-piano-buzzes-from-israel-stein-master-piano-technician/

end of the year piano recitals, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, piano, piano instruction, piano playing, piano recital, piano recitals with themes, piano repertoire review, piano room, piano scales, piano society, piano teacher, piano teacher nearly falls asleep, piano teachers, piano teaching, piano teaching repertoire, piano technician, pianoworld.com, player piano, POWHOW instruction, POWHOW piano instruction, POWHOW webcam online piano class, private party marketplace of pianos, private party piano sale, producing a singing tone legato at the piano, publishersmarketplace.com, Ravel Piano Concerto for the left hand, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Uncategorized, Weber upright piano, word press, wordpress.com, Yeti microphone, Yevgeny Sudbin, you tube, You Tube Cantata no. 78 performed at the First Moravian Church in New York City, You Tube interview with Lugansky from Israel, you tube video, yout tube, youtube.com

Rina, 5, performs at our Spring Recital (after 8 months of piano lessons) Video

Rina is moving right along. She can spin a legato phrase with finesse after having practiced her detached-note playing for months. Now she’s working on using featherlight thumbs to craft smoother lines.

Notice her supple wrist approach to the piano:

***

Here’s a sample of Rina’s offerings at the May 5th evening recital held at Valley Music Center in Fresno.

More playing:

LOOKING BACK ON EARLY LESSONS WITH RINA

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/looking-back-to-early-piano-lessons-with-rina-5-with-a-solid-musical-foundation-to-build-on-and-now-the-present-videos/

Teaching piano to young children

Tales of a Musical Journey by Irina Gorin



Class starting on May 19th

http://www.powhow.com/classes/shirley-kirsten