Saturday, August 21, 2010

Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts and LSO celebrate 15 year collaboration

Over the past three weeks, thirty-three young musicians from Taiwan, China, and conservatories across the U.S. were gathered for private lessons, master classes, chamber music and orchestra at the Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts. This remarkable summer Music Festival, directed by Dr. Cathy Chan and sponsored by her Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts, has introduced scores of talented young people to the United States over nineteen years. For many, the Festival is a life-changer - some return every summer, others enroll at Walnut Hill or go on to conservatory studies in the U.S.

On Wednesday evening, August 18, 2010, 13 young orchestra musicians from the Summer Music Festival joined the musicians of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra for its annual summer performance.

Pianist Rui Zhang, winner of the 2010 Concerto Competition, made her American debut at an American landmark, the Hatch Memorial Shell on the Esplanade on the banks of the Charles River.

The concert drew a crowd of 9000, who cheered to Boston and Gershwin, loved the Beethoven and danced to Duke Ellington's "In the Mood."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Twenty year-old Chinese pianist makes her U.S. debut at Hatch Shell on the Esplanade

For twenty year old pianist Rui Zhang, coming to Boston for the first time is special for two reasons. It is here, 7000 miles from Shanghai, that she has reconnected with her beloved piano teacher, Hung-Kuan Chen, and here that she will make her U.S. debut as piano soloist with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra.

Born in 1989 in Lanzhou, a city in Northwest China, Ms. Zhang began the piano at the young age of 3 1/2. When she was nine, she left her family to become a student at the prestigious Affiliated School of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. By the time she was fifteen, she was giving concert tours throughout China.

Three years ago, Ms. Zhang was accepted into the college level of the Conservatory, and began her undergraduate studies with Hung-Kuan Chen, a pianist well known to Boston audiences, then Chair of the Piano Department of the Shanghai Conservatory. When Mr. Chen was appointed to the piano faculty at New England Conservatory in 2009, he left Shanghai to return to Boston. Ms. Zhang now studies with Professor Xiang-yu Mao.

This summer Rui Zhang has come to Boston to participate in the Annual Summer Festival at Walnut Hill sponsored by the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts. Each year, 30-40 young outstanding young musicians from Taiwan, China, and the United States come together to participate in an intensive three-week musical training program that includes private study with master faculty, chamber music and orchestral training. The program was an opportunity for Rui Zhang to reunite with her teacher.

As the winner of the Foundation's annual Concerto Competition, Ms. Zhang will perform with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade on Wednesday August 18.

This year, LSO Artistic Director Jonathan McPhee chose George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue as the featured work. This distinctively American work made a big impression on Rui Zhang.

"I have never been to the United States, and really love it. I had never played an American concerto before and it is so special to me that I will make my American debut here in Boston, playing this very special piece. And I am so grateful that my teacher Mr. Hung-Kuan Chen is here to teach me about its American nature. I have learned so much."

Ms. Rui Zhang makes her American debut on Wednesday August 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Longwood Symphony Orchestra's Free annual concert on the Esplanade as part of Boston Landmarks Orchestra's Landmarks Festival at the Shell series.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

LSO's 25th Annual Summer Concert on the Esplanade

One hundred years ago, the Charles River Dam was completed at the mouth of the Charles River. The land that was recovered became Boston's beloved Esplanade. Eighteen years later in 1929, a conductor named Arthur Fiedler conducted the first free open air concert on the Esplanade, a tradition of classical music for the community that has continued to this day.

Every summer, thousands of families pack their picnics, spread their blankets, and head to the Hatch Shell on the banks of the Charles River to hear these free concerts. The season begins with the now legendary and widely broadcast Fourth of July performance by the Boston Pops.

For twenty-five years, Longwood Symphony Orchestra has also been a part of this musical tradition, performing its annual free classical concert on the Esplanade at the end of every summer .

In 1995, as part of its mission of community engagement, Longwood Symphony Orchestra began a remarkably successful collaboration with the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts Summer Music Festival. This Festival offers a unique educational experience for talented young people from Taiwan, China and the United States. The program is the brainchild and passion of Dr. Catherine Chan, whose dedication and vision has brought hundreds of talented Chinese musicians to study in Boston for over twenty years.

For most of these students, the Summer Music Festival at Walnut Hill is their first American experience. They spend three weeks at the Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts in Natick with master artist faculty, honing their individual instrumental skills, learning chamber music, and sitting side-by-side in orchestra with the seasoned musicians of the LSO. But they do have a chance to put their instruments down to get to know Boston - from shopping, to Duck Boat Tours to a trip to Tanglewood.

The final highlight of this three-week camp is the chance to perform with the LSO on the Esplanade.

And for the lucky winner of the annual Concerto Competition, it is a the chance to make his/her Boston and often American debut, performing for 9000 people.

The winner of the first such Concerto Competition was a young 12-year old pianist named Lang Lang, who has gone on to a wildly successful international career. This performance was Lang Lang's American debut. Although at that time his feet could barely reach the pedals, even at that tender age, his performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 was riveting and memorable.

On Wednesday August 18, Longwood Symphony will perform its 25th concert at the Hatch Shell, joined by the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts students : 6 young violinists, 2 violists, 3 cellists, a bassoonist and clarinetist.

The winner of the 2010 annual Summer Concerto Competition is Rui Zhang, a 21 year old student from Shanghai Conservatory. Ms. Zhang will make her American debut, performing Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. The concert, led by Longwood Symphony Orchestra's Artistic Director and Conductor Jonathan McPhee, will also include On Eagle's Wings by the aptly-named composer Bill Boston, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 4, opus 60.

Longwood Symphony Orchestra
Wednesday evening August 18 at 7:00 p.m.
"In the Mood" conducted by Artistic Director Jonathan McPhee as part of Boston Landmarks Orchestra's Landmarks Festival at the Shell series. 617-667-1527