This year’s Piccolo Spoleto performance by the students of the Charleston Academy of Music gave a small audience a sneak peek at tomorrow’s talented artists.
The program began with a trio of high school students Rachel West (flute), Esther Yu (violin) and Justin Yu (cello), performing the first movement of Haydn’s Trio No. 1 in C Major. Together, they demonstrated a practiced command of Classical period style, as did Erick Won (violin) and Frederic Chen (piano) with Beethoven’s Volin Sonata No. 5, Op. 24, the “Spring” Sonata.
A different set of young players presented Handel’s Trio Sonata in D, Op. 5, No. 2. Won, Savannah Winther (violin) and Seung Kyo Jung (cello) gave a thoroughly Baroque performance with focused enthusiasm that only rarely threatened to get away from them.
The program’s pianists tackled such technically challenging works as Chopin’s Etude Op. 10, No. 1 (Michael Psenka) and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” (Jason Guo) with precision. The first movement, “En bateau,” from Debussy’s Petite Suite provided a romantic interlude at the center of the program, performed with a gentle touch by Kerry Wong and Fanny Cheung.
The highlight of the program was a performance of Massenet’s “Meditation de Thais” by the afternoon’s oldest and youngest students. Benjamin Halford (violin), a 10-year-old grade school student, and Abigail Kent (harp), a guest performer who attends the Curtis Institute of Music, played with skill and emotion. Kent drew fluid sounds from her harp, while young Halford played with feeling beyond his years.
Other highlights included Giovanni Dettori’s arrangement the “Lady Gaga Fugue” and a kinetic performance of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances Nos. 3 and 5. Zoe Alessandra De Luca-Parker and Fiona Kent performed in Gaga-inspired costumes, with smiles on their faces, bobbing their heads to the rhythm of the “ra-ra-ah-ah-ah.” Frederic Chen returned to the stage with Jay Baek to close the program with the Brahms. The pair danced through the two pieces with controlled collaboration, as their hands crossed and — with showmanship — they swung around back-to-back to switch places on the bench.
Each May, Spoleto Festival USA brings dozens of professional musicians and performers to Charleston. Year round, Charleston is training its own.
Sarah Hope is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.