Bits 'n' Pieces: 3 young musicians to play with orchestra

By Mary Ann Albright, Columbian Staff Reporter

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Of the nine musicians selected as winners in MetroArts Inc.’s annual Young Artists Debut! Concerto Competition, three are from Vancouver.

Fred Lu, Michael Siess and Hannah Graves were chosen from an initial pool of 68 applicants. They will perform in an April 12 concert along with conductor Niel DePonte and professional musicians from the Oregon Symphony and Oregon Ballet Theatre orchestras.

The concert will take place at the Newmark Theatre in Portland. More information is online at http://www.metroartsinc.org.

This will be Lu’s second Young Artists Debut! concert. He also won the competition in 2009. That year’s concert took place at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, so playing at the Newmark will be a new experience for Lu, a 17-year-old junior at Skyview High School who has been playing the piano for 13 years. The Newmark is a smaller, more intimate space, he said.

Lu will perform the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, known as the ”Emperor.”

“I really like playing it,” said Lu, who studies with Jean-David Coen in Portland. “It’s a really magnificent piece. It’s very powerful and grand, but at the same time, it’s very romantic.”

Siess, a 15-year-old violinist, was featured in 2010 as an Emerging Artist in MetroArts’s collaborative concert with the apprentices of the Portland Opera and Oregon Ballet Theatre, but this will be his first Young Artists Debut! concert.

Siess, a sophomore at Skyview High School who has been playing the violin for 11 years and who studies with Carol Sindell at Portland State University, will perform the first movement of Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D major.

“It’s a piece that I’ve always liked,” he said. “I think it really shows off what the violin is capable of.”

For her piece, pianist Graves will perform the first movement of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G.

“There are so many parts with different moods and colors,” said Graves, a 15-year-old sophomore at Mountain View High School who has been playing piano for about nine years and studies with Kelli Stephens in Portland. “Having a really expressive and melodic part and all of a sudden changing to a really savage, intense part makes the audience really listen and want to know what will happen next. Ravel as a composer liked to have that element of surprise in his music.”

Graves has performed with an orchestra before, but never as a soloist.

“I’m really excited for it,” she said. “The piano tends to be a solo instrument, so it’s fun when you get to play with orchestras or chamber groups.”

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Features & Business Editor Courtney Sherwood at 360-735-4561, or e-mail features@columbian.com.