Sunday, August 18

Schoenberg concert focuses on soloists

UCLA orchestra accompanies 10 student performers in annual All-Star event

Members of the UCLA Philharmonia practice. The student musicians will present the fifth annual All-Star Concert today at 8 p.m. in Schoenberg Hall.

Members of the UCLA Philharmonia practice. The student musicians will present the fifth annual All-Star Concert today at 8 p.m. in Schoenberg Hall. Christopher Robinson / Daily Bruin

Once every year, Schoenberg Hall rings with the sounds of some of UCLA’s most talented student musicians and the UCLA Philharmonia for the UCLA All-Star Concert.

Now in its fifth year, the concert consists entirely of concerto movements played by music student soloists who were chosen through a competitive auditioning process back in November 2009.

This year’s auditions featured more than 40 musicians, and eight total pieces were chosen to be performed by 10 different students with a wide variety of talents. Some of the performances will be more traditional and familiar examples, including two vocal performances, a requiem for three cellos and two virtuosic piano performances bookending the concert bill.

The concert this year will also feature some more idiosyncratic performances, such as a rarely played modern cadenza to one of Mozart’s piano concertos and the altogether unexpected inclusion of a concerto for bass trombone. The performance this year will show off various student talents and a group of pieces that represent a wide range of musical styles.

“We started the All-Star Concert back in 2005,” conducting Professor Neal Stulberg said. “The idea was to put together a whole concert that would be only solo pieces, which would give the maximum number of students an opportunity to appear as soloists with an orchestra.”

For many musicians, the opportunity to perform as the soloist with an orchestra is taken very seriously, but the students also look forward to it with great excitement and anticipation.

“Every musician’s dream is to solo with an orchestra,” Stulberg said. “It’s a very rare opportunity, having everybody on stage supporting you and in communication with you musically. When you’re up in front of an orchestra as a soloist, there’s nothing that can prepare you for that feeling, that immense wave of sound coming from behind you as you’re projecting the main melodic subject. It’s a great thrill.”

Stulberg isn’t alone in his excitement for the event. For first-year doctoral student in piano performance Yevgeniy Milyavskiy, the experience is a unique one that cannot be replicated.

“I love playing with a full orchestra,” Milyavskiy said. “It’s a challenge, and it’s a completely different feeling. It’s very fulfilling to be, in a way, pitted against an entire orchestra, but to also have them speaking to you and working in dialogue with you, communicating with them in order to bring a sound alive.”

Each student performer also chooses which pieces they will perform, and many often choose pieces that they have emotional connections with.

Milyavskiy will have the rare opportunity to open this evening’s event, and he will perform the tumultuous first movement to Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, one of the rare Mozart piano concertos written in a minor key.

“I particularly love this piano concerto because it showcases a side of Mozart that many people are not familiar with,” Milyavskiy said. “Usually people think of Mozart’s concertos as flighty, catchy pieces, but this piece has much more depth and a deeper emotional center.”

Lauren Edwards, a first-year graduate student in vocal performance, will perform one of two vocal pieces for the concert. For this particular event, she’ll be charting a bit of unfamiliar territory.

“This is my first time singing with a full orchestra without being in an opera,” Edwards said. “It’s very rare that as a young musician I get to work with a full orchestra like this, and I feel very fortunate.”

For this special event, Edwards chose to perform Mahler’s “Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen” from “Des Knaben Wunderhorn,” a difficult but beautiful piece that will highlight her talents as a mezzo-soprano.

“In its simplicity it is also a very delicate piece,” Edwards said. “Keeping that delicate nature without making everything look so hard is a challenge.”

For Edwards and the nine other student performers, making these pieces look easy is what they do best, and they’ll all have the support of the talented UCLA Philharmonia, an orchestra of their own friends and fellow classmates.

“I really love this concert because all the students are rooting for each other with this one,” Stulberg said. “It’s the best of the home team.”

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