Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ann Schein in Harrisburg, Part 2: This Week's Master Class & Recital

If you hadn't heard Ann Schein's performance with the Harrisburg Symphony this past weekend – or heard the buzz about it: check this link to read three reviews – you missed an incredible performance and an amazing collaboration between soloist, conductor, orchestra and composer.

Malina & Schein after Chopin
And if you stayed for the “talk-back” after the concerts, you probably heard her talk about the importance of teaching, not only in her own teachers but also in how she teaches her students.

So, here's something to consider: you can hear Ann Schein play some more right here in Harrisburg this coming weekend – 8pm, Satudary night at Whitaker Center – in a program for Market Square Concerts in which she'll be playing more Chopin (his 3rd Sonata) as well as Beethoven (his famous Les Adieux Sonata) and works by Liszt, Debussy and Ravel.

You can also, in a manner of speaking, hear her teach.

On Friday afternoon, she'll be offering a Master Class at Messiah College's new performing arts center in Grantham – it begins at 5:00 but it's free and open to the public. Students from around the mid-state will be playing for Ms. Schein and she'll listen and give advice. It's a chance for the young pianist to have a “mini-lesson” with a master and sometimes you can impart an amazingly significant bit of information in such a short amount of time than can affect how you approach that piece or this technical detail or the way you practice in general. It can be very inspiring and, for these young artists, I'm sure it will be a great memory.

This is an event sponsored by both the Harrisburg Symphony and Market Square Concerts, part of a “mini-residency” with Ann Schein in Harrisburg.

And the common denominator in these two organizations is Peter Sirotin, currently the concertmaster of the orchestra and the artistic director of Market Square Concerts. His wife, Ya-Ting Chang, a pianist who's also executive director of Market Square Concerts, had been a student of Ann Schein's when they were both attending Peabody. Sirotin refers to Ann Schein as an important mentor in his own life, not just as a musician.

Schein, her husband, and Rubinstein
So when Peter and Ya-Ting had the idea of bringing Ms. Schein to Harrisburg for a concert, was there something else you could do? I mean, she's not only a famous teacher and but she's also studied with some of the great pianists of a tradition now nearly forgotten, like Arthur Rubinstein and Mieczysław Munz as well as Dame Myra Hess. (These links will take you to video clips of some of their performances of Chopin and I highly recommend them.)

And if you've heard the Chopin concerto she played, you heard how wonderfully transcendent that tradition can sound, compared to the way a lot of pianists today perform this very intimate music. For a diametrically opposed concept of Chopin, check out this video which is from a video and CD recording that will be seen and heard by more people than have heard of Ann Schein, who will think this is the way classical music (or at least Chopin) should be played.

Let me quote from two articles that appeared last week to promote the symphony's concert, “Schein on Chopin,” which also mention the master class and recital coming up this week:

Ellen Hughes wrote in the Patriot-News
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"She's a musician with equal comfort as a soloist, chamber musician and concerto performer," HSO concertmaster and Market Square Concerts' artistic director Peter Sirotin said of Schein. "It's hard to find a musician who can cover this range."

She's articulate, sophisticated and unpretentious," he continued. "Besides being a great musician, she's one of the nicest human beings I've ever met."

When he and his wife, pianist Ya-Ting Chang, were students at Peabody Conservatory, Shein taught Chang and coached them both in chamber music. Sirotin and Chang, executive director of Market Square Concerts, still consider Schein a mentor, and its through that relationship that this mini-residency came to be.

"She's had a life in music. She brings a richness of experience through the multiple facets of a mature artist." Echoing Malina, Sirotin said, "She continues the great transition from Rubinstein to the present day."

"A half-century of playing this music means that her interpretations are a profoundly moving musical experience. Her timing and use of color create the feeling that the music has just been composed on the spot," he added.

Sirotin strongly urged me, and anyone else for that matter, to attend Schein's master class. "She uses a higher order of thinking to help students solve technical challenges," he said. "It's rare to experience such an intelligent guide. Attending the master class will open doors to music that are not possible to open while attending a concert," he said.

"I love this program," Schein said about her Market Square Concerts recital, when I spoke to her last week. "I've been doing it on and off for several seasons. Each work has a mini-story. I love all of them for reasons that become obvious."
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David Dunkle, in his article for the Carlisle Sentinel, included this personal anecdote:
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Why is Schein suddenly shining her talents on the greater Harrisburg area?

Part of the answer is HSO concertmaster Peter Sirotin, a violinist who nonetheless considers Schein one of his most important musical influences.

“She was one of my mentors at Peabody,” Sirotin said. “She’s very dear to me personally. She’s also one of my favorite musicians.”

Peter Sirotin & Ya-Ting Chang
Sirotin, along with his pianist wife, Ya-Ting Chang — another Peabody graduate and a Schein protege — are co-directors of Market Square Concerts.

And to complete the loop, Sirotin and Chang, along with HSO principal cellist Fiona Thompson, comprise the Mendelssohn Piano Trio, the ensemble-in-residence at Messiah.

“Yes, there is a link there,” Schein said of her friendship with Sirotin and the Taiwan-born Chang. “Ya-Ting was one of the finest pupils I ever had. One day, she told me she had met a young violin student. With her parents back in Taiwan, I was her surrogate mother. Unless I approved, she wouldn’t go out with him.”
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So you see, a teacher can have a big impact on a person – not just in the way they play the music!

The master class is being held in the High Foundation Recital Hall of Messiah College's new performing center. For directions, click here. For a campus map, click here  (the High Center is #5 on the map). The recital hall is toward the back of the building.

The recital on Saturday – at Whitaker Center in downtown Harrisburg at 8pm – will include Ravel's Sonatine, Debussy's L'isle joyeuse, and the Tarantella from Franz Liszt's musical holiday in Italy, Venezia i Napoli. The program opens with Beethoven's Les adieux Sonata and closes with Chopin's 3rd Piano Sonata.

If you've heard the symphony's concert, then you can still hear more great music making from this artist. It's an opportunity we don't often have in our community, something to take advantage of and treasure.

Please note: the Master Class is free to everyone and anyone may attend to observe; for students, the tickets for Saturday's Whitaker Center recital are $5 for college students with ID and FREE for students K-12 (an accompanying parent or relative or a teacher can purchase a ticket for $5 for bringing a K-12 student).

Dick Strawser

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