Fri, Jun 04, 2004 - Page 17 News List

Young stars spread their wings

The concert halls are going to be packed this month with a surfeit of classical goodies

By Bradley Winterton  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

June sees a plethora of classical events in Taipei. Whether because of a relaxation of teaching pressure in the academy, the impending season for foreign vacations, or just general high spirits, the concert halls this month display many alluring and substantial offerings.

Both the city's resident orchestras, for instance, have major concerts. The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is staging an event titled 2004 Young Stars and the NSO on June 18 in the National Concert Hall. This will showcase four young Taiwanese instrumentalists who are currently approaching eminence in their careers in a program of Martinu, Schumann, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky.

The conductor will be Taiwan-born Apo Hsu (許靜心), not a novice herself but instead prominent in the US in the field of classical music played by women. Currently director of the Springfield Symphony in Missouri, she was for several years in charge of the Women's Philharmonic, based in San Francisco. She still maintains a connection and in 2000 was filmed with the orchestra in a documentary Cool Women, subsequently shown on American TV.

The concert's long program offers the featured artists, three women and a man, as soloists in four concertos, accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra. First there's the Oboe Concerto by the 20th century Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu, one of the strongest works in the repertoire to foreground the instrument. The soloist will be Hsieh Wan-chen, 27, currently studying in Berlin for her Koncertexamen (Germany's highest degree in the performing arts). She's married to another successful Taiwanese musician, Chiu Chun-chiang (邱君強), conductor of the Prague National Theater.

Classical Highlights

* Victor Pikayzen plays Bach

Bach for Solo Violin

June 5 and June 6

Recital Hall NT$500

* Lin Shih-wei Clarinet Quintet

Brahms, Mozart, Weber

June 8

Recital Hall NT$200 to NT$300

* 2004 TSO Concert Series

Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky-Ravel

June 9

National Concert Hall, NT$200 to NT$800

* Victor Pikayzen plays Bach

Bach Concertos

June 11

National Concert Hall, NT$300 to NT$1,500

* Beethoven String Quartets

June 12

Musica Daphne Recital Hall, NT$300 to NT$500

* 2004 Young Stars and the NSO

Martinu, Schumann, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky

June 18

National Concert Hall, NT$300 to NT$1,000

* All concerts begin at 7:30pm

This will be followed by Schumann's much-loved Piano Concerto played by 19-year-old Kimberly Chen. Kimberly was born in California, moved to Taiwan at the age of four, and is currently studying at New York's prestigious Julliard music school.

Next will come Prokofiev's tough but subtle Third Piano Concerto. At the keyboard will be Lee Yi-hsin, also studying in Germany for his Koncertexammen, this time in Trossingen. Still in his mid-20s, he's been living in Europe since 1996. Finally, Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme will feature cellist Lin Yi-pei, already a professor at Hawaii State University's music department.

The Taipei Symphony Orchestra (TSO) also has an important concert, on Wednesday June 9, under the baton of the celebrated Chinese conductor Muhai Tang (湯沐海). The popular program -- Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony (Pathetique) and the Mussorgsky-Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition would ensure a large audience even without Tang on the podium, not to mention low ticket prices (NT$200 to NT$800) to boot.

Born in Shanghai, Muhai Tang (湯沐海) today presides over world-class events such as The Damnation of Faust in Antwerp in 2000. Son of a famous Chinese film director, he conducted China's first ever fully-staged Wagner production, Der Fliegende Hollander, in Shanghai's Grand Theater in 1999, in a co-production with Dusseldorf's Deutsche Oper am Rhein (where the NSO's resident conductor Chien Wen-pin (簡文彬) is currently a rising star). After a sojurn in Lisbon, Tang is now based in Helsinki where he conducts both the Helsinki Philharmonic and (since 2002) the Finnish National Opera.

Smaller-scale performances are also to the fore this month. First among these must rank the Bach concerts being given by the veteran Russian violinist Victor Pikayzen. These events will be of historic importance in Taiwan -- all of Bach's extant concertos featuring the violin, plus all the composer's works for solo violin, three concerts in all. Considering that this peerless music will be performed by a soloist, who famous 20th century composers, such as Aram Khachaturian, actually dedicated works to, this will constitute a real milestone in Taiwanese musical life. They shouldn't be missed.

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