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Grand impression by 'teeny' pianist with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra

October 15, 2007|By KATE COLEMAN

HAGERSTOWN - Chambersburg, Pa., residents Jerine Dunham and her husband like to sit on the left side of The Maryland Theatre when the Maryland Symphony Orchestra hosts a piano soloist. They want to see the artist's hands.

Twenty-year-old pianist Yuja Wang and the MSO performed Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor Sunday.

Dunham's view was good. "I saw a blur," she said.

"This is a very special young artist," said MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze as she introduced Wang during Prelude, the preconcert discussion. Sunday's performance was the final of the first weekend of the 26th season's MasterWorks programs.

Wang, in tiny skirt, black stockings and ankle boots during Prelude, said when she was a child in China, her mom played the Tchaikovsky concerto all the time.

"I promised I will never play it because it's way too popular."

But last January she got an opportunity to perform it with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and in March, Wang made her Boston Symphony Orchestra debut playing the concerto with three days notice when the soloist slated was ill.


"It's so emotional," Wang said of the concerto. "It's so easy to understand."

Following the Bedrich Smetana's Overture to "The Bartered Bride," which opened the concert, Wang walked onstage in a shimmering turquoise gown and bowed deeply, hand on her heart. Her fingers and hands flew as she attacked or caressed the piano keys.

"It was beautiful," said Elaine Rowe of Hagerstown.

The concerto moved her to tears.

"She's amazing," said Fern Hoffmann, 13, of Hagers-town. "She's so teeny," she said of Wang, who stands 5 feet 2 1/2 inches.

"She blew me away," said Steven Wang, 14, who is no relation to the pianist, although he pointed out that he also was born in China.

Before the afternoon's music began, Schulze took a moment to mention the passing of Walter Lawson, one of the founders of the MSO, the man who was responsible for bringing Barry Tuckwell to the orchestra. The second chair in the horn section has been named in honor of Lawson, who designed and built French horns in Boonsboro.

The concert concluded with Antonn Dvork's Symphony No. 7 in D minor, which Schulze said is considered his greatest symphony.

The MSO's MasterWorks II concert will be performed Nov. 16 and 17 at The Maryland Theatre.

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