(I will be continuing the posts on “The Inner Game” in a few days)
On Saturday, June 2, I was fortunate enough to get tickets at the Orpheum Theatre for the highly publicized young pianist, Jan Lisiecki. At only 17 years old, he has already accomplished many things: an orchestral debut at 9 years old, performed over a hundred times with an orchestra, played at Carnegie Hall, and with many of today’s top musicians, and has released two CD’s.
Sitting in the front row, the excitement was palpable. Eavesdropping among my neighbours, many had come to see Lisiecki perform. The program for the evening: An original piece by composer Richard Mascall, a piano concerto by Robert Schumann, and Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben.
At 7:05pm, there was a free pre-concert talk by Edward Top (VSO’s composer in residence) and Richard Mascall, a composer from Eastern Canada. Top gave a quick overview of Ein Heldenleben and the piano concerto, while Mascall introduced his original work, “Manitoulin”. Mascall explained that he was inspired by the Ojibwey people in Manitoba, and had spend much time researching the Aboriginal people’s music and culture. As a result, Manitoulin was influenced by various Aboriginal sounds and rhythms, such as the pentatonic scale, or use of the rainstick to evoke the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves in the forest.
After a brief break, the Vancouver Symphony orchestra took the stage at 8:00pm. I have never sat in the front row at the orchestra before, and it was a huge treat! I could see all the front musician up close, and could even hear them take a breath before playing a musical phrase! Violinist concertmaster Dale Barltrop played the violin solos with brilliance and feeling, and I found myself also moving and swaying with the music.
When Jan Lisiecki took the stage, he strode in with conductor Bramwell Tovey. He was much skinnier and taller in real life. Lisiecki was dressed impeccably, and his shoes gleamed in the light. His skin was flawless and his hair was as coiffed as the pictures. He is known for his technical brilliance, and I was impressed. I imagined what it would be like to be playing up there on stage, and to memorize everything and not have any slip-ups. To play in front of a critical audience. I wondered how he dealt with the pressure of performing and if he employed any of the techniques in the Inner Game of Music?
It’s clear that as a young pianist, he still has some growing and maturing to do. I was a little disappointed at the opening of Schumann’s piano concerto (it was supposed to open with a “bang”), but as he played, he seemed to gain more confidence. By the end of the 3rd movement, he seemed to be enjoying himself more, and the piece finished strongly. After his performance, he received a standing ovation by over half of the audience, and came back to play a Bach prelude encore.
Here’s a review from the Vancouver Sun: http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/review+Lisiecki+classical+music+answer+Justin+Bieber/6722665/story.html