July 2, 2008

Young Artist Winners Shine on Bowl Stage

By Catherine Garcia

REDLANDS - Proving that age is not a factor when it comes to talent, the Young Artists Audition winners gave a stellar concert Tuesday night at the Redlands Bowl.

Now in its 57th year, the Young Artists Auditions were held in April. More than 50 auditioned, and eight won.

The performance began and ended with piano selections from Frederic Chopin. Edward Gao, 15, of Redlands, played "Nocturne in C# Minor, Op. posth." with much emotion, swaying to the music and lifting his hand up sharply after playing certain notes. While his first piece was light, his second, Ernst von Dohnanyi's "Rhapsody in C Major, Op. 11, No. 3" was heavier and faster. It was nice to hear the difference in style.

In contrast to Gao's animated playing, Akane Iida was reserved as she concluded the night with Chopin's slower Preludes, Op. 28 selections.

Although a prelude is normally used to describe an introductory piece, Chopin's preludes are a set of 24 short pieces. Through Iida's softer playing, she made the pieces cohesive, easily moving between the songs and giving them a fluid feel.

Andrea Yu, the youngest performer at 14, played Camille Saint- Saems' "Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 22" with accompanist Mary Au.

The two played well together - neither overpowered the other - but Yu held her own, the deep, rich sound of the cello mixing nicely with the piano.

Priscella Chan, 16, tackled Enrique Granados' "Allegro de Concierto."

The term "allegro" means lively and quick, and that's exactly how Chan played. Her performance was lively, and she even sped up more when playing the scales.

Noah Yaghoubian, 16, played two songs, beginning with Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Etudes-Tableaux Op. 39, No. 5 Appassionato."

Rachmaninoff is known as the last great Russian representative of late Romanticism in classic music, and this piece, played with great passion, recognized this. Yaghoubian did the same with Sergei Prokofiev's "Sonata No. 3 Precipitato," a fast-paced song.

Violinist Eleanora Schaer, 15, gave a spirited rendition of Max Bruch's "Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26." Her hands were a blur as she performed the song at top speed, never slowing down. She played the concerto's finale, where the notes went higher and faster until the conclusion, and it seemed almost impossible for her to be keeping up the pace. It was not only lovely to hear, but also fascinating to watch.

Christina Dee, 21, and Timothy Gonzales, 29, were the evening's vocalists. It was harder to hear Dee, who nonetheless gave pleasant performances of "Quando M'en Vo"' from "La Boheme" and "C'est L'Extase" from "Ariettes Ouiblees." Gonzales' voice was powerful yet understated, especially during his performance of "O Sole Mio," and both were able to control their voices and hold their high notes for several seconds. They were accompanied by Kristina Jacinth and E. Earl Richard, respectively.

What was most amazing about each performer was their stamina. They moved through their difficult pieces with ease, picking up and slowing down whenever the music called for it. There also wasn't a single note missed or flubbed throughout the evening. Each key was hit with precision, each string with deliberation.

There were many families in the audience, with young children in tow. Hopefully the evening inspired them to pluck the strings of a violin or start pounding a piano; there can never be too many young artists.

E-mail Staff Writer Catherine Garcia at [email protected]

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