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Stanford Philharmonia shows confidence and originality

Stanford University student Ethan Andrew Chi showed complete mastery of the piano’s dynamics (Photograph supplied)

The youth, energy, tight teamwork, discipline and sheer brainpower of this elite orchestra enable it to tackle anything in the repertory with confidence and originality.

The orchestra performed in the Earl Cameron Theatre at City Hall on March 26, as part of the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts.

They started with Haydn’s Symphony No 97, written in London when he was coming into the height of his powers and popularity.

The first movement started slowly and majestically, almost immediately switching to an urgent presto fanfare launching the main full-on orchestral theme. Throughout the performance we got glimpses of the composer’s playful joie de vivre. In the second movement he was toying with a preview of the waltz. In the third, a courtly minuet was spaced with military march type interruptions and percussion explosions. In the finale he painted a seaside holiday atmosphere with what could have been a cancan dance ending with a classical flourish.

The Sonata da Chiesa (Church Sonata) by Adolphus Hailstork, a modern American composer, followed. It was a seven movement composition for strings, based on the offices of the Latin Mass. Profoundly felt and deeply moving, its unconventional, original harmonies exuded peace, gentleness and quiet joy. In particular movements 6 and 7, Give Us Peace and Rejoice were beautifully apposite for all of us.

Ethan Andrew Chi, who graduates this year, is a music senior and master of computer Science student at Stanford. He completely confounded our expectations with his performance of Greig’sA Minor Piano Concerto. One would have thought that an advanced degree in computer science based upon the possibilities of artificial intelligence would somehow be at odds with the outpourings of the romantic imagination of the late 19th century and that digitisation would have little to do with fingers on piano keys. Our expectations were wrong. Ethan made the instrument really live up to its name (piano=soft and forte=loud) with complete mastery of the instrument’s dynamics, sometimes strident, louder than the whole orchestra, sometimes just audible in the highest registers and technically brilliant throughout. We were thrilled to have heard such a masterful interpretation of Grieg’s greatest piano concerto and all rose to applaud this charming, modest young man, who returned to give us an encore with Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag.

For more information: bermudafestival.org

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Published April 08, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated April 07, 2022 at 7:44 am)

Stanford Philharmonia shows confidence and originality

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