Did we on April 11 experience increased receptivity to the arts ... to music as Dr. Michael Palumbo directed the Weber State Symphony Orchestra and six soloists through seven stirring pieces by Beethoven, Chopin, Saint-Saens, Bizet, Dragonetti and Ravel? Indeed, to note that the audience nearly filled the Austad Auditorium at WSU at "Concerto Night" was most rewarding to those of us who are convinced that the teaching of and participation in the humanities uplift the human soul and enrich our lives. We insist that the disciplines of fine arts, philosophy, theology languages, and arguably, primarily music, assert and foster the intrinsic values in the lives of Homo sapiens.
Without question, Professor Ling-Yu Lee, interpreted Chopin's Piano Concerto No.1 with the allegro maestoso required by the "poet of the piano" while demonstrating her own skill in producing a powerful, yet finitely controlled performance of the lengthy piece. Rachel Bigelow played the Saint-Saens cello number, while Catherine Omer sang Je dis, que rien ... from Carmen. I detected only minor baubles in the outcomes. Following the intermission we heard Ravel's Tzigane Rapsodie, and again we were treated to a consummate interpretation by violin soloist, Marianne Asmus. Maxwell Cox (string base) too evidenced hours of practice in giving us Dragonetti's Concerto in G in a moderately happy fashion as the composer suggests.
Not least among these motivated student musical artists was the now well-known gifted pianist, "our very own"( trite but right), Fan-Ya Lin, who always "brings the house down" (all the trite cliches may be applied). Soon she is to play in Carnegie Hall. Descriptive terms of her playing could include gifted, spiritual, masterful, unique, and gripping. This child/woman is already building a legacy of high distinction as those small, powerful hands execute her intuitive interpretations. She is more than "up-and-coming." She in fact is already very much "up" and with us. She has arrived. Of course, she will "come" still further. The path to a career of ever greater successes lies before her. How does she do it? Kindly attend her next performance, and you tell me.
It seems to me that mankind learned during the 19th and into the 20th centuries that rapidly developing sciences could not, as we had anticipated, satisfy all our needs. The 21st century is proving that computers, although valuable in so many ways, also fail to engender the spiritual (soul-touching?) contentment of music. What is the point of earning wealth if one only dwells in his handsomely furnished comfortable kennel, but himself remains empty inside?
The students who performed gave us a soul-reaching experience, refreshing and memorable, a performance that will stay within us and continue to ease the vicissitudes of daily existence. Thank you all! And I remind you of the wonderful musical events that are coming up soon. Some, if not all made, possible by the large sum donated to the WSU music department by Sid and Mary Foulger. We can look forward to many outstanding musical performances. The Foulger donation may have purchased those incredible Steinways used by the pianists.
We should note as well that four of the so-called "Young Artists" who do an apprenticeship with Utah Opera also performed at WSU last week sponsored by the Ogden Opera Guild. Again the audience was treated to excellence as these operatic singers (some day to be stars) sang numbers in Spanish. They were outstanding both in singing and acting.
Music was everywhere last week, since in addition to the above, performances by the Utah Symphony were given under the demanding baton of Thiery Fischer, still termed the "new conductor."
Ralph P. Vander Heide lives in Ogden. He is the author, with his wife, Judy, of the novel "Chris & Louisa."