“His hands were moving so fast, all I could see was a blur,” said Judy of 15-year old pianist Derek Wang of Needham, Massachusetts. And Richard, speaking of 15-year old cellist Jeremy Tai’s arrangement of a piece for his cello quartet, declared it “absolutely brilliant!”
The show also featured violinist Sophia Stoyanovich from Bainbridge Island, who celebrated her birthday on the day of the April 24 concert by premiering a composition by her father; 16-year-old violist Maia Hoffman from Portland, Oregon and 17-year-old soprano Kresley Figueroa from Flagstaff, Arizona.
Jeremy Tai, the cellist from Cupertino, California, first performed solo, then was joined by the rest of the members of the Konpeito Cello Quartet in his deeply affecting arrangement of Joe Hisaishi’s Path of the Wind. The quartet, which hails from the San Francisco Conservatory, includes 17-year-old Irene Jeong, 16-year-old Catherine Kim, and 17-year-old Minku Lee.
As expected, their performances were extraordinary; but audiences only caught a glimpse of the warm, funny, passionate and compassionate people they are.
Part of the From The Top experience includes an Arts Leadership orientation, which helps the teens to take the beauty of their music beyond the concert hall and get involved in their communities. During the session, the musicians learned what some FTT alums have been doing in that regard, then shared their experiences: playing at hospitals, senior centers, and homeless shelters after school and during holidays; one of them had played for orphans in Vietnam, and another had written a grant to help low-income children take music lessons.
The day after the concert, the teens began their arts leadership by visiting three Tacoma schools. They performed, answered questions, chatted and were treated to performances by students at the Grant Center for the Expressive Arts (an elementary school), Seabury School and Tacoma School of the Arts.
The show will air June 8 at noon on the NPR and Classical Music service.