Monday, August 15, 2011

Pianist Jannie Lo performs Tchaikovsky on the Esplanade

Pianist Jannie Lo, winner of the 2011 Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts Concerto Competition will perform the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto with Longwood Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday August 17, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.

Ms. Lo grew up in San Francisco, California where she started the piano at the age of three. She went on to study piano in Baltimore and in Freiburg, Germany. When asked what city she considers "home," she replied:

Because I have lived in a number of places, I have always had a desire to search for my real 'home', like how the Little Prince always yearns to go back home, but I am realizing lately that 'home' is perhaps in my own self, and to be at home everywhere I go, is to be at peace with one's self.

This is Ms. Jannie Lo's fifth summer participating in the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts Annual Summer Festival. What makes it so special?

I have been to many summer festivals, and this is definitely one of my favorite places to be. The faculty are of such high caliber, and each of them are truly unique and special artists.Their lessons and master classes are wonderful. Having the opportunity to converse with them individually is an inspiration. Each conversation has been a mind and heart opening experience, and life changing because each of them has their own inspiring story to tell.

This is the 20th anniversary of the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts Summer Festival. Jannie Lo explains and essential part of its longevity and success.

Dr. Cathy Chan [the founder of the Foundaion] makes it such a well-rounded festival, with trips to Tanglewood, Tai-chi classes, etc. Dr Chan, the founder and director, is also one of the most generous and kind persons I know, and her spirit pervades the festival.

Any thoughts about the Tchaikovsky? Is it a work you have wanted to play? When did you first hear the work?

I have wanted to play this piece all my life, since I heard [Marta] Argerich's recording as a child. It was a coincidence that I entered the competition actually, because I had been learning it, and only realized later that it was the piece designated for the competition this year. I entered it thinking it would help me learn the piece faster.

Every time before I play the Tchaikovsky, I always think that the spirit is one of the highest nobility and the greatest generosity. The famous first theme is actually a Ukranian folk tune, a melody Tchaikovsky first heard performed by blind beggar musicians in the market. I read somewhere that the folk tune was about the coming of spring, but I have not been able to find any other source to verify the information.

Jannie Lo also reflected about Longwood Symphony Orchestra and its unique connection to music and medicine:

Dr Chan teaches us a Chinese character to all of us every evening at our meeting and explains the philosophical meaning behind the construction of each character. Tonight, it was the second character that makes up the word 'music' in Chinese -- "yue". She explained to us that it is the same character as medicine, minus three strokes on the top.

Thus, music is truly synonymous with medicine and healing. It is our mission as musicians, to help heal; it is something that is vital in this world, and we need to remember that everytime we are given the opportunity to do our mission on stage...

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