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From the Top’s broadcast this week was taped at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, California on January 27, 2010. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they played on the show:

Jonathan Miron, 17, violin
“The Foundation of Arethusa” from Myths, Three Poems for Violin & Piano by Karol Szymanowski

“When I think about this piece, what stands out to me is the utmost variety in color and character. The music allows the performer to demonstrate his virtuosity in creating different sounds and moods that envelop the audience and leave them in a unique state of mind.”

Kara Sainz

Kara Sainz, 17, soprano
“Voie Che Sapete” from The Marriage of Figaro
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Voi che sapete was the first aria I learned, so it’s a unique and special piece of music to me. The aria is sung by Cherubino, a page boy, who is experiencing overwhelming feelings of ‘love’ for every woman he sees.

When I sing this aria I feel that the most important thing to get across is the emotion within each melodic phrase. Since Cherubino experiences so many rapid mood changes, each line must be expressed differently. One challenging aspect of the piece is maintaining the mindset of an adolescent male character. This is difficult for me because I essentially have to suppress my feminine mannerisms. Ultimately, what makes this piece special to me personally is that I have learned so much about characterization and acting by singing it.”

Kevin McAtee, 17, flute
I. Allegro maestoso
from Concerto No. 1 in G major, K. 313 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“I like this piece because it’s so open-ended. Every flutist plays it differently. My interpretation is a collage of different ideas from my teachers and my peers, as well as my own ideas. I love this piece because it is like a window into each flutist’s soul.

The piece is unique because of how deceptively simple it is. It is very difficult to turn something like the allegro maestoso into an interesting piece of art while keeping it light and simple in the true Mozart style.”

Soleil Trio
Verano Porteño (Summer) from The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
by Astor Piazzolla, arr. José Bragato

  • Rieko Tsuchida, 15, piano: “I love the cool vibe of the Latin style in this piece. It was hard for our group at first because we had to move away from the usual classical style we were accustomed to and take more risks with the music. None of us got the Latin tango style at first, but watching YouTube videos of the famous dance group ‘Tango Fire’ really helped me. We had a lot of fun improvising off the music and adding ornaments and embellishments for extra flare. When our trio was rehearsing one day, we decided to make up a story to go along with the piece. We ended up with a story about how one big, lazy Argentinean man spends his excruciatingly hot summers. We got pretty creative with it.”

    Kenneth Renshaw

  • Kenneth Renshaw, 16, violin: “This movement invokes the image of a dark, smoky bar in Argentina during the summer time—when the heat and stickiness are nearly unbearable. My favorite point in the piece is near the end, when the dark, smoky bar image gradually gives way to a lively and rhythmic rush of sound, sweeping to the exciting, climactic finish. Being able to find the right pacing in the overall scope of the piece can be a challenge because it’s very difficult to switch characters between the dark, smoky section and the more exciting rhythmic section.”
  • Will Chow, 16, cello: “‘Verano’ means ‘summer’—not a happy summer when you go to the beach, but a hot summer when you don’t want to do anything except sit and wish it wasn’t so hot. The piece has to make both the performer and the listener feel like the paint is peeling off of the walls because it’s so hot.”

Umi Garrett, 9, piano
“Gnomenreigen” (Dance of the Gnomes) by Franz Liszt

“The story I made up about this piece begins with gnomes dancing peacefully at a party. Soon, an evil witch finds out about the party and she is very angry that there are gnomes in the forest. This bad witch thinks she is the only person who is allowed to live in the forest, so she plans to kill the gnomes. When the witch arrives at their village, the gnomes are very scared. Suddenly, the good witch magically appears in the forest and protects the gnomes. The good witch sends the bad one out of the forest forever. The gnomes start celebrating the day by going on a rocket and flying to space. They look at many, many bright shining stars in the universe.

I had a funny experience with this piece when I was in Vianden, Luxembourg. I was playing so energetically on stage that suddenly I pushed my chair backward. When it slid back I couldn’t stay on the chair any more, so I continued performing standing up. The next time I performed there, they taped the chair down to the floor so it wouldn’t slide!”


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