Sooyong Chu, violin and Sally Emilia, piano, left perform Johannes Brahms's Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 78 'Vivace ma non troppo', with Xinyi Wang's help turning music pages, at the twelfth annual piano honors recital at Harbeson Hall, Feb 9.
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Sooyong Chu, violin and Sally Emilia, piano, left perform Johannes Brahms's Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 78 'Vivace ma non troppo', with Xinyi Wang's help turning music pages, at the twelfth annual piano honors recital at Harbeson Hall, Feb 9.
Sooyong Chu, violin and Sally Emilia, piano, left perform Johannes Brahms’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 78 ‘Vivace ma non troppo’, with Xinyi Wang’s help turning music pages, at the twelfth annual piano honors recital at Harbeson Hall on Feb 9.

While sitting in the full audience in Harbeson Hall, one could wonder why so many people would come to listen to PCC’s 12th annual piano honors recital, which had some mixed talent.

But after every set, be it the spectacular pianist Sally Emilia, or the two novice piano students Jo-Ann Merrill and Victor Benitez, the audience clapped its loudest enthusiastically.

The reason? According to piano instructor and the evening’s M.C. Philip Young, diversity.

“This is a big event for us … we represent what PCC is with its diversity,” he said after the concert.

And with the audience’s reaction to each performance, it is evident that the diversity of talent, background, and experience each student pianist played out on the keys is what made the night so memorable, and brought the college’s diverse community together through the shared passion of music.

Beethoven’s famous Moonlight Sonata performed by music major and pianist Xinyi Wang soothed the audience and kept everyone relaxed in their seats, allowing the notes to carry them away.

Blind music student Leo Mora nodded his head with the movement of the Sonata. “This is magnificent,” he whispered while tapping his fingers as if he himself were playing the song on the piano.

The best performance of the night was Johann Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in D Minor, played by international student Sally Emilia, whose ability to easily transition from an uplifting major key tone to a sudden minor down shift of angry tone kept the audience on its toes and immersed in her spectacular performance. It was easy to see her love and passion for piano in the way her body moved with the music she played, and the audience definitely felt it with each emotion played out in the song.

Audience member Anete Sepanian, communication, appreciated the performances. “I really enjoyed it. This was the first concert I’ve ever been to, and I didn’t know what to expect, but that was awesome,” she said excitedly.

Yet another memorable performance was by the duet of newcomer piano students Benitez and Merrill, who played a rendition of Franz Schubert’s Zwei Landler. While the composition was not necessarily difficult, their joy in playing the piano was evident while they were on stage, which kept the audience light hearted.

“I think we did good considering our nerves,” said Merrill with a smile. Benitez stood next to her, chimed in and said: “It was a good performance for all of our colleagues. I think we all did wonderful.”

Young added with a grin, “We are very grateful for what the piano brings us.”

The piano honors recital definitely highlighted not only talent, but also a togetherness of the community, under the shared passion for music.

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