By Beatrice Lee, bostonese.com columnist
Boston, Oct. 23, 2015, — Harmony Zhu, 9-year-old piano prodigy from New Jersey, recently visited Jordan Hall of New England Conservatory (NEC). She participated in the From The Top recording of National Public Radio (NPR) and shared the stage with George Li, who won the silver medal at the 15th Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition. This edition of From the Top will be released to NPR stations around the nation on November 30.
George Li and David Loebel wave to the audience after the performance(bostonese.com file photo).
Pianist George Li first appeared on From the Top in 2006, at age 10. Following his recent triumph at the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, he returned to Jordan Hall to perform the finale of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with NEC’s Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (David Loebel, Music Director). The capacity audience got a rare chance to know George Li during live interviews by host Christopher O’Riley.
Li told the audience he took a year off from studying at Harvard to prepare for the Tchaikovsky competition. “I had to prepare really hard as it’s a very demanding compition,” Said Li. He is now back to Harvard after deciding not to participate in the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland this month.
“I have been a fan of George for a long time. I love his music. I try to make to all of his performances since he was nine years old,” said Ms. Shuping Yao, a novelist who have published two books with Boston Bilingual Media & Publishing Inc. this year. Ms. Yao congratulated Li’s parents for raising such an outstanding young man after the show.
Harmony Zhu was a pleasant surprise. Her witty answers to O’Reilly’s questions drew laughter from the audience. Besides playing piano, Zhu is also a Chess Master, and won world championship for her age group during the past summer in Europe. O’Reilly confessed to the audience that it was not NPR that discovered Zhu as she had been on the Ellen show twice. A clip of the following video from the Ellen Show below was shown on the stage.
Performers & Repertoire
Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 33, No. 8 in G minor and No. 6 in E-flat minor, by Sergei Rachmaninoff
Isolde Quartet with Kate Arndt, violin, Tristan Flores, violin, Gerald Karni, viola, and Zlatomir Fung, celloString Quartet No. 2 in C major, Op. 36 by Benjamin Britten
Figaro Variations from Rossini’s ‘The Barber of Seville’ by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, edited by Jascha Heifetz
Legende by Georges Enescu
III. Allegro con fuoco of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, allegro con moto
Encore: Variations on a Theme from Bizet’s Opera “Carmen,” by Vladimir Horowitz