While the performances were not the best ever heard in Harbeson Hall over the last year, people left the “Vive le France!” piano ensemble and accompanying recital with pep in their steps.

One felt there was a strong sense of community both on and off stage among the students who performed together. And as piano director Phillip Young said, music connects people.

“Fraternity, equality and unity,” said Young. “We try to create musical relationships, fraternity. We create a sense of equality when different musicians play together, equality. And unity, we create music into the mind, through the emotions of someone who is not you. It’s not really about playing. We are serving as a voice of the composer.”

One performance that held all three of Young’s cornerstones to musicianship, it would be the one by pianist Sally Emilia and clarinet player Carlos Herrera’s piece by French composer Andre Messager’s “Solo de Concours.”

Both musicians played their instruments with such skill, giving the audience a sense of being in the streets of Paris. Herrera’s trills and transitions on the clarinet flowed effortlessly with Emilia’s strong crescendos and decrescendos on the piano. The most memorable moment of their performance to many was Herrera’s heartfelt solo, where one felt each note move through the crowd wave after wave, until suddenly, Emilia’s notes on the piano weaved right back into the song.

Herrera, who plans to transfer to California State University Long Beach as a music and French major this fall, definitely believed their hard work was showcased on stage.

“It’s part of what we do as music majors,” Herrera said. “Performing was just as fun as rehearsing. It’s always a great pleasure.”

Emilia found performing with a different instrument musician fun, but also a challenge.

“It’s different than playing with someone else on a piano,” she said. “With another instrument, you have to match their color and tone.”

Other performances may not have captured the entire audience, but to the musicians, such as pianist Michael Cooper and accompanying viola player Erika Salas who performed German composer J.S. Bach’s Sonata in G minor, the chance to play together was worthwhile.

“It was a joy to play together,” said Cooper.

Salas, whose main instrument is violin, said she felt comforted to have Cooper on stage with her while playing an instrument. She says she is still growing into it.

“It is wonderful and a privilege to play with him,” she said. “Playing the viola made me extra nervous. But as the piece progressed, it got better because I had him there on stage.”

Cooper and Salas happen to be dating.

At the reception in the wifi lounge following the recital, members of the audience, including Mikki Huacuja, a mother of piano student Anthony Huacuja, was delighted to see the students perform together.

“We’re proud Anthony is joining music at PCC,” she said with a smile. “His instructors are great, and the music program here is fabulous.”

For Huacuja, who performed a rendition of French composer Desidre-Emile Inghelbrecht’s “La Nursery” excerpts “Dansez Bamboula” and “Am Stram Gram,” with other pianist Michelle Liao, the experience with others is what made performing so important to him.

“The relationships you build here, are because of the music,” he said. “It’s the music that makes the connection. You don’t have to be a music major to build a connection through music with others.”

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