April 20, 2016
I am still feeling the incredible exhilaration from having had to opportunity to host Angela Cheng for her performance at the piano for the Cecilian Chamber Series on Sunday. To be in the presence of someone who has such great passion for her work and a desire to share her love of music is such a gift.
It is hard to describe what it is about an artist’s performance that makes their music speak to me. From the first time I heard Angela Cheng perform, I was struck by her ability to communicate music in such a profound and meaningful way. Every note, gesture, dynamic and phrase is filled with musical intention that shows the depth to which she has studied the score. And she has the wonderful ability to draw her audience in to share in the musical experience with her. For me, the Ravel piano concerto always brings back memories of Angela performing it with the Regina Symphony Orchestra. And all who were there have a wonderful memory of her performance of all 5 of the Beethoven Piano Concerti in Regina as well.
The reaction of the audience at Sunday’s concert was a testament to Angela’s ability to share in a profound way. The many piano teachers and students at the concert were mesmerized and I am sure inspired by her playing which were prefaced with meaningful descriptions of the works of Haydn, Beethoven and Chopin that she performed for us. “The Piano Whisperer” was how one audience member described her playing. Throughout the concert, the audience was attentive, engaged, responsive and appreciative.
A small fundraising dinner followed the concert, hosted by our valued sponsor Memories Fine Dining Restaurant and Dr Roberta McKay and Elmer Brenner. Thomas served a superb meal as music lovers, that included 12 sponsored students, enjoyed an evening together with our wonderful soloist.
A highlight of the evening, according to the audience was the interview that I had the opportunity to conduct with Angela Cheng. She shared stories about what life is really like as a concert pianist, teacher, mother with a man she describes as “a prince of a husband”, who is also a pianist.
Her story is especially incredible as having music in her life was not an easy and automatic thing. Angela grew up in a very musical family in Hong Kong. Family members were the children’s piano teachers. The move to Canada when she was 11 made the access to music difficult. Financial considerations often stood in the way, but miraculously, lessons, pianos and concerts were soon made available by generous people in Edmonton. They recognized the exceptional ability and determination of this young girl and supported her in her music studies.
Angela’s hard work along with all of the support eventually led to being able to study at Julliard in New York, winning of the Rubenstein Piano Competition and being the first Canadian to win the Montreal Piano Competition. This set her on a path where she has been able to live a life pursuing and sharing her passion to the fullest. And she does it with an attitude of humility and gratitude.
Besides performing solo, she loves to perform concertos which she has done with great orchestras all over the world, as well as being part of the renowned Zukerman Trio. On my bucket list to have in our series for sure!!
All who heard Angela Cheng’s performance on Sunday were able to experience a true gift that we will long remember and cherish.