Piano students, wrapping season, take place in program’s legacy

Students in the School of Music Piano Program, who will give their last recital of the summer at 4 p.m. today in Sherwood-Marsh Studios, take a break from rehearsing Wednesday outside Sherwood-Marsh. Carrie Legg/Staff Photographer

Zoe Kolenovsky
Staff writer

A recital this afternoon presents Chautauquans with the final opportunity to see the School of Music’s piano students perform this summer.

Ten musicians in the Piano Program will take the stage at 4 p.m. today in Sherwood-Marsh Studios for a recital featuring a series of solo and collaborative works.

The students have been preparing for this final showcase since the beginning of the summer, receiving continual guidance from chair of the piano program Nikki Melville and resident faculty member J.Y. Song. The students have also been influenced by the teachings of five guest faculty members, who are all critically acclaimed professional pianists in their own right, Artist-in-Residence Alexander Gavrylyuk, and returning alumnus Alvin Zhu.

Each has influenced the students’ professional and artistic development through a variety of mediums. Private lessons, public masterclasses and Q-and-A sessions have given them opportunities to connect with the students one-on-one, providing feedback on their technique and advice from their experiences as professional concert pianists. Students have also witnessed the visiting artists’ recitals, along with Chautauquans, to learn from these masters of the craft.

“I think that changes their possibilities as an individual artist to listen to the stories of these people that come in,” Melville said. “That sort of stuff takes reflection and time. I think it matters.”

Melville has organized an exciting setlist for the program’s final performance of the season, with a series of solo and duo works from a diverse array of composers and even one work arranged for four players on one piano.

“You get about one-and-a-half octaves of the piano each, so you don’t get very many notes,” she said of the piece for eight hands. “It’s intentionally just a fun, short piece.”

The recital is set to feature the talents of Jonathan Mamora and Gabriel Landstedt, who also performed in Thursday’s concert, as well as Andrew Chen, Sean Yang, Eric Yu, Dongwon Shin, HaEun Yang, Grace Tubbs, Vanessa Yu and Alexander Tsereteli.

American composer George Gershwin has been a recurring inspiration for pianists at Chautauqua this summer, as many have chosen to perform his work in honor of the time he spent at the Institution composing his Concerto in F in the summer of 1925. Several of the students will be performing some of his compositions this afternoon.

Shin and Yang, who performed a Gershwin duet in the showcase last Sunday in the Amphitheater, will be returning for another duo piece today, this time a selection of transcriptions by Johann Sebastian Bach.

“It’s kind of a sweet story,” Melville said. “They’re working together to do a chamber concert at Eastman in the fall, and so they’re learning quite a lot of repertoire. … They’re going to be continuing to work together doing the Bach, which is lovely.”

One of the students will even be performing his own composition.

Melville reflected on the legacy that Chautauqua’s Piano Program has, forging strong connections between its students and faculty members over the years.

“We’ve gotten emails from people years after the fact saying, ‘I was just thinking about you today. I was doing this thing and I remember our lesson on it,’ ” she said. “We see these people who are getting to be more confident performing or working on a certain aspect of their sound … and I think it has a ripple effect throughout their lives.”


The author Zoe Kolenovsky