Teen musicians to share stage with radio host, Vancouver Symphony this weekend
Friday, April 8, 2011
If you go
• What: Vancouver Symphony concert featuring young artists and All Classical’s Edmund Stone.
• When: 3 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday.
• Where: Skyview High School concert hall, 1300 N.W. 139th St., Vancouver.
• Cost: $42 reserved; $29 general; $24 seniors; $9 students.
• Info: 360-735-7278 or Vancouver Symphony website.
David Kim, Ken Fukumoto, and Alex Zhu might only be their teens, but they already have earned an experience that of which most classical musicians can only dream: the chance to play a solo with a professional orchestra. That’s because Kim, Fukumoto, and Zhu were the first-prize winners in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s 17th annual competition for young artists. As a result, they will share the stage Saturday and Sunday in a program that will include Beethoven’s “Eighth Symphony” and Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait,” which will be narrated by All Classical 89.9 FM’s popular host Edmund Stone.
Kim, who placed first in the string category, will play the third movement of Saint-Saëns’ “First Cello Concerto.”
“I like this movement because it has a lot of contrasting parts,” said Kim, 13, a student at Catlin Gabel School in Portland. “Some parts are technically difficult with a lot of fast runs with double stops. Other parts are more melodic.”
Kim, a member of the Portland Youth Philharmonic, started playing the cello when he was 8, working with teacher Hyun-Jin Kim.
Sixteen-year-old saxophonist Fukumoto, a sophomore at Grant High School in Portland, won the brass and woodwind category. He has played the saxophone for seven years, is a student of Phil Baldino and plays with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony.
For the Vancouver Symphony concert, Fukumoto will play Glazunov’s “Concerto for Alto Saxophone”
“It’s about a 15-minute piece, that has a lot of variety,” Fukumoto said. “The music starts slowly and then picks up in speed. Then it becomes slow and relaxed, but then the intensity of the music increases up until it gets to the end.”
Zhu, who will play the first movement from Rachmaninoff’s “Second Piano Concerto,” took top honors in the piano category.
“You can be very expressive and imaginative with this piece,” Zhu said. “It’s very challenging. Rachmaninoff had big hands, so the chords in the extended sections are hard to play. I can reach up to nine keys with each hand, but Rachmaninoff could reach about fourteen.”
Zhu, a 16-year-old sophomore at Westview High School in Beaverton, Ore., has been studying with Kelli Stephens.
“My parents signed me up for piano lessons when I was 5, and to be honest, that’s when I got hooked,” Zhu said. “There’s no other explanation. I usually practice up to two hours every day.”
“Lincoln Portrait” for narrator and orchestra was written by Copland in 1942 shortly after the United States entered World War II. Stone, the radio host and narrator of Sunday’s performance, takes the patriotic flavor of this piece seriously. He grew up in England and has lived in the United States since 1980.
“I’ve felt that I could do this piece after I became an American citizen,” Stone said. “And I became an American citizen three years ago. I think being an American will make my performance more authentic and personal. I’ll do it with my British accent. I can’t do it any other way.”
Over his years in the radio business, Stone has heard many narrators on the “Lincoln Portrait,” and says he prefers actor James Earl Jones’ version with the Seattle Symphony.
“James Earl Jones does it with a certain inflection and pauses that makes his interpretation very unique,” Stone said. “Of course, I have my version, but it can change each time I do it. You will have to come to the performance to experience it.”
The concert will conclude with a performance of Beethoven’s “Eighth Symphony,” which is considered one of his sunniest symphonies. Written in 1812 when he was 42 years old, it was the shortest of his symphonic works, lasting around a half an hour. In the hands of Maestro Salvador Brotons, who is known for his emotive conducting, this piece should compliment the efforts of the young artists and the optimistic outlook of Lincoln through the music of Copland.