Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Friend in the News

My friend Ben Katz recently performed in Washington DC at the Kennedy Center. He is a sophomore at Oberlin. According to the article, "Part of the venue’s Conservatory Project, an initiative of Performing Arts for Everyone’s Millennium Stage, the program combines the brightest young performers with a devoted audience." Ben is probably one of the brigtest young people I know. From the article:

The next two pieces in the program represented the first bold shift. Henry Purcell’s songs Lord, what is man? and Hark! How all things with one sound rejoice were performed by sophomore Ben Katz on harpsichord, junior Zoe Weiss on viola da gamba and senior Katherine Lerner singing mezzo-soprano.

“I never did a big, exciting gig like this one and I was a little nervous,” said Weiss. “We did some last-minute changes in the pieces; also, the articulation and the ornaments were improvised on the spot and all of this made us more aware and caring for the music.” Weiss thought that the audience was very brave to endure the rapid style changes in the program.

In contrast, Katz did not feel nervous.

“This concert was a fine opportunity to perform once again this early music.” Ultimately, the acoustics in the Kennedy Center gave birth to new musical ideas, which were employed immediately. It also influenced the way the instruments and musicians were positioned on the stage.

“I was standing at the harpsichord the whole time,” said Katz.

He considered the improvisation an extremely important element of the performance.

“I improvised a transition between the pieces. Fifteen minutes before our turn, we were still trying new things in the backstage,” he said.

Congratulations, Ben!

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