by Jessica Lambert
The earliest chamber music memories I have are of playing piano trios with my mother at the piano and my sister on cello. I even remember the first pieces we played: a little Beethoven Minuet, Schubert’s Serenade “Ständchen” (oh, how I loved that melody) and a group of Christmas carols. I think I was seven years old. A few years later, our piano trio became more serious, with an absolutely superb young pianist named Frances Teng. We played together for years and I loved it.
The piano chamber music literature has remained, I think, my favorite genre. That may be slightly weird because a majority of people would say the string quartet form is more perfectly balanced. But I love the contrasting timbre the piano brings and the depth of harmony. I also enjoy the particular challenge of bringing together strings with piano and trying to create a cohesive sound. Or maybe it just feels comforting to have that solid friendly bulk of a piano behind me on stage? Either way and both ways, I love it.
So you can imagine how thrilled I am to welcome Grace Choi to Amici. As Steve writes below, the two of us had the opportunity to play with Grace on the Higdon and Beach trios. I admire the power of her technique as well as the breadth of her musical vision. We are now getting the chance to spend more time with her and I find she has quite a funny side as well which I know we’ll all enjoy!
My bucket list of pieces I want to play with her keeps growing. Now that I think about my list I am actually a little afraid of scaring her off but you have no idea how hard it is not to write up the kind of list I used to send Santa Claus and send it to her.
It is in these last couple of months of the year that the Core musicians of Amici sit down to hash out our programming for next season. It is very much a democratic process. We all come with ideas to pass around the table and debate what makes a solid, interesting program and that means each of us has to hear the sad news that we don’t get to play everything we want. I really enjoy the process though. Discussing our programming is always stimulating and sometimes entertaining, too. (Ah, if you could be a fly on the wall!) This year I assure you my list includes a fair amount of piano repertoire so here’s to hoping some of my pieces make the cut!
by Steven Pologe
I have known Grace Choi for a number of years because she occasionally performs at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance with some of our students. However, I did not know her well until we rehearsed and performed the Amy Beach and Jennifer Higdon Piano Trios last season. I discovered that Grace is a skillful pianist and excellent musician, but most of all that she is a warm gracious individual. Jessica Lambert, the violinist in those piano trios, and I both enjoyed getting to know her and thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks we spent rehearsing together. Grace will make a wonderful addition to the Amici core and the larger Amici community. I am looking forward to more music making together.