Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Millennium Stage - Indiana Univ. Jacobs School of Music - 02/18/09

Creston: Sonata for saxophone and Piano, Op. 19
Chopin: Mazurka in C-sharp Minor, Op. 50, No 3
Chopin: Ballade No 1 in G Minor, Op. 23
Verdi: Credo in un Dio crudel from Otello
Rogers: "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific
Rachmaninoff: Ona, kak polden', khorosha, Op. 14, No 9
Rachmaninoff: Ja zhdu tebja, Op. 14, No 1
Debussy: String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 10 - III & IV

Beside providing free entertainment every single day of the year, twice a year the Millennium Stage invites the most promising students of the top music schools in the US to perform for a whole week in a program baptized "The Conservatory Project". These mini-concerts are a wonderful opportunity not only to check out the stars of tomorrow, but also to hear some excerpts of popular and lesser known works. Moreover, these performances taking place in a closed space, as opposed to either end of the Kennedy Center's main hall, was an added bonus to our ability to fully enjoy them. Yesterday evening, as a prelude to the New York Ballet Theater, my friend Heidi and I got to sample some exceptional young artists from the distinguished Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University.

The first piece was a jazzy tune by Paul Creston, and the pianist, David Hughes, and saxophonist, Dana Booher, took us through a whole range of rhythms without batting as much as an eyelid. They had a good thing going and gladly shared it with us.
For sheer wonder at the talent of youth, we did not have to look further than Andrew Marrs, who played Chopin with a sensitivity and a maturity well beyond his young years. His interpretations of the Mazurka and the Ballade were precise and heartfelt, and would have no doubt pleased the composer himself.
After jazz and classical music, we got a taste of vocal prouesse with a wonderful baritone, Aleksey Bogdanov, who effortlessly displayed his skills in a wide variety of songs: Verdi in Italian, Rogers in English, and Rachmaninoff in Russian. Equally comfortable in all those different styles, the assuredness he projected was an additional asset to his impressive vocal range and promises him a bright future.
Last, but not least, were the last two movement of Debussy's String Quartet in G Minor, which were played with all due expressiveness and passion, and beautifully concluded a very satisfying hour.

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