Students sure knew a fine way to play a Steinway at the inauguration of the first piano recital in the new Robert and Adrienne Westerbeck Recital Hall on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Performers young and younger from PCC’s piano ensemble and piano accompanying classes treated the audience to an evening of music celebrating Russian culture.
Organizers hoping James Bond wouldn’t mind titled the evening “From Russia With Love” and featured works from Russia’s most renowned composers like Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Gretchaninoff and others.
Of all the world composers, Russian composers were chosen for this recital for a reason.
“There’s a certain expressiveness that Russian composers brought to the table that I don’t think anyone else did, especially during the romantic era,” said audience member Christian Pieratt, music. “We in the music department aim to bring in culture and to make a community effort to appreciate music for the beauty that it is.”
The room was silent but, a soothing musical suspension came over the room when Tchaikovsky’s “June Barcarolle” from The Seasons was performed by Greg Von Notias, viola and Mei Cheng, piano.
It was evident that with their music, Von Notias and Cheng were transporting the audience somewhere and the audience obediently followed.
“I wanted the audience to yearn, feel, want and have a spring moment in the midst of a gloomy winter and hopefully they did,” Von Notias said.
It was an evening full of many great powerful performances like when Bortkiewicz’s Russian Melodies and Dances were performed by Tiffany Yang, Nora de la Torre, Kevin Chan, Xinyi Wang and others on two new $27,000 Steinway pianos.
Arguably one of the show-stoppers came near the end of the sold-out concert.
Erika Salas, violin, and Sally Emilia, piano, seemed to be having a musical conversation with each other, without words and with the audience being allowed to eavesdrop.
Salas and Emilia’s interpretation of Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” even brought some audience members almost to tears.
“We were just playing our hearts out. In our music we are different characters and we are in a way having a musical wordless conversation with eachother,” Salas said.
“It was an honor to play here at Westerbeck Recital Hall with its wonderful acoustics where the performer can truly be free to express themselves here through their music.”