By Keisi Hasani ‘15
Cheerful conversations quickly filled the auditorium as the evening of “Pianos without Borders” began on Tuesday, January 14.
The performances had great variety as the students came from different grade levels and played pieces from various musical eras. There were six pianists; two freshmen, three sophomores, and one senior, who all came to display their talent.
The piano recital was organized and hosted by Ms. Robin Casalta. As the night started, Ms. Casalta thanked everyone for coming and gave a brief preview of what would follow.
“I hope everyone has a great time,” she said, “and give a round of applause to our young pianists.”
The crowd broke into applause. At first, there were about 30 spectators in the auditorium. However, as the night proceeded, that number reached to about 50. This included friends and family of the performers, students who came to enjoy the show, and many teachers from different departments, such as Ms. Valeria Howell, Ms. Liz Bommarito, Mr. John Autz, Dr. Ernest Pysher, and many more.
“The pianists are all boys,” said Ms. Casalta with a smile. “We are trying to encourage girls also to give it a shot, as many may have the talent but lack the confidence.”
The first performer up was Zachary Feinstein ’16, with a piece by Chopin.
“I’ve been playing the piano for nine years,” said Feinstein, moments before his performance. “I enjoy it. You just need to have the passion for it and be persistent. That’s how you get better and better.”
As Feinstein took the stage, Ms. Casalta introduced him to the spectators, who gave a heartwarming applause, and asked him a few questions regarding his journey as a pianist, as she did with all the following students. Feinstein, amongst other things, confessed that it was his second grade music teacher who had realized his talent and encouraged him to follow it. A few moments later, he took over the whole auditorium as he peacefully played his piece. It was, contrary to the second performer, a warm and slow-paced piece.
The second performer, Justin He ’17, played a piece by the same composer, but changed up the pace with a fast melody, called Fantasie Improptu.
“I’ve been playing for seven years,” said He. “I have talent, and I just love to play.”
The melody was amazing and kept the spectators on the edge of their chairs. He was also applauded cheerfully as he left the stage.
Jhecy Balansag ’16 switched up the atmosphere by playing more current pieces. He played two different ones, one of them being the theme of Twilight, “River Flows in You.” As he took the stage, with Ms. Casalta’s help, Balansag gave the spectators some background on the composers and said he was rather new, as he’d been playing for less than a year. Nevertheless, the pieces were magical and well played. His family was there to support him and give him inspiration. They were so proud and were taking pictures and videos throughout his entire performance.
“I was very nervous,” said Balansag, a few moments after the show ended. “Overall, I enjoyed it. Everyone played really well.”
Next performer up was Marcus Chen ’17, playing a piece by Mozart. He was applauded heartwarmingly by the crowd, as he showed signs of being nervous.
Chen said, “I picked this piece by Mozart as he is very famous for his melodies.”
He had been playing the piano for six to seven years and attended piano recitals during the summer. Chen’s performance was absolutely stunning, and he overcame his shyness as the crowd gave him warm applauds.
John Li ’16 took the stage right after. He’d played the piano for about a year and was passionate about it.
“I used the internet to learn,” said Li. “I’d watch other people play and learn from their techniques.”
Li also played two pieces, one of them the theme for the videogame Kingdom Hearts. Many students from the crowd jumped to say that they recognized the melody, as they played the game also. His performance was great and the fast videogame melody cheered up the whole crowd.