Today’s concert at Church of the Epiphany was a triumph in several ways. Young Korean born, Washington resident Cha Young Park was cursed during her playing of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 17 by a couple of disruptive people in the back of the church. They were part of a small group of mentally challenged individuals who were brought to the concert, but who could not help themselves from groaning and making other sounds as the music went on. It is very generous to invite these people to attend, but when they can’t control their sounds, it becomes very disruptive to the artist and to the audience. Mid-way through the piece (after further disruption by an irate older man yelling “get out right now. you have no right to insult the pianist,as he bolted from his seat and went out the door) the group left the church and the concert continued. This is the second time this has happened this year, and I think that this particular group should be discouraged from coming back. I am not sure why this has already not been done.
While Ms. Park did not appear to have let the disruption disrupt her playing, I am sure that, in subtle ways, it did. Not the technical aspects, but the emotional ones. Certainly, as an audience member, I was continually distracted. Perhaps this is why I thought that something was lost from the obviously talented playing. I don’t think it was because of anything the soloist did herself.
From the Beethoven, Ms. Park went to Chopin, selecting his Andante and Grande Polonaise Brillante. Her playing of this was magnificent, from the softness of the opening portion to the brilliance of the latter half of the piece. Could not imagine it being played better.
She then chose, as an encore, a Scriabin left hand doctrine. She explained that she had been looking at the repertoire for left hand only, and discovered this particular piece that she described as beautiful. She said she was still learning it, used the music, and apologized in advance for any missed notes (if there were any, they passed right by me). Again, beautiful playing of a piece that I do not remember hearing previously and which, as she says, is an extremely appealing (and obviously challenging) work.
Ms. Park teaches at the Levine School. Her descriptions of the three pieces she played were informative, as far as I could tell. Without a microphone, her somewhat soft voice did not carry well, at least to where I was sitting.
I did not write about last week’s concert by the United States Army String Quarter. They played Beethoven and Ravel, and again it was a wonderful concert. I especially enjoyed the Ravel.