Senior touches many with excellence in piano

November 18, 2008 — by Andy Tsao

Fingers racing over the piano keys, senior Connie Shang brought forth the technically advanced, yet deeply emotional piece by Beethoven during her first self-organized recital on Nov. 8. Seated in the audience were dozens of family friends, silent as they listened to Shang’s interpretive style.

Shang has been playing the piano for more than 11 years, and through her study of the instrument, has received honors of the highest degree. She was one of 13 students in the nation last year to pass the National Guild of Piano Teachers’ prestigious Sonata Competition. She was also the accompanist of the Redwood Honor Chorus and is currently the accompanist for her church’s youth orchestra.

With fellow pianist Valley Christian senior Tim Lin, Shang organized the private recital, which they had been planning for over six months.

“I wanted to showcase what I’d been playing all these years with a widely variegated program,” said Shang. “In particular, [Tim and I] thought it’d be cool to arrange the pieces according to our unique counterpoint of styles: Tim enjoys brilliant technical displays, and I love deeply emotional pieces.”

As this was her first self-organized recital, Shang sought inspiration in the works of world-renowned pianist and composer Wilhelm Kempff.

“Watching Wilhelm Kempff’s interpretation of Beethoven was instrumental in helping me create atmosphere,” said Shang. “I didn’t end up borrowing much stylistically from him, but observing his composure lent maturity and depth to my music.”

Shang was surprised, however, that she didn’t receive much help from her piano teacher Joy Chen, who, according to Shang, “is obsessed with planning for every contingency.”

“[Chen] took a backseat on this recital and let me and Tim plan the whole thing,” said Shang. “Looking back, I realize she did it on purpose to teach us how recitals don’t just pop out of thin air.”

Shang felt that the performance itself was also a success. The performance attracted about 30 guests, and afterwards, several listeners congratulated her for her ability to carry emotion across her music. Although the comments were very positive, Shang feels that “there’s plenty of room for improvement.”

Although she will not be specializing in music during after high school, Shang hopes to continue practicing the piano throughout college. She said she will probably be performing in a few recitals in the coming months.

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