Senior Recital Showcases Violin & Bassoon

Charlie Clist plays violin as her mom accompanies her on piano


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Senior recitals continued this week at Idyllwild Arts. With 109 graduating seniors, many of whom are music students, recitals are planned at Stephens Recital Hall each week until the end of May.

On Monday evening, April 19, Charlotte “Charlie” Clist, a violinist and A-Tao Liu, a cellist, got their moment in the spotlight.

In a long black halter dress with green and copper peacock “eyes” around the neckline, Clist looked radiant. Yet, being a defiant teenager, she also had bare feet.

Clist began her performance with a String Quartet by Joseph-Maurice Ravel, “Assez vif-Tres Rythme” with her friends, Lea Hausmann on violin; Sheila Bernhoft on viola, and Ting-Yu Yang on cello. The four kept a good pace, often looking over at each other for timing. Hausmann was modest in her role as second violin. During this piece by Ravel, there was a lot of finger plucking by the string instruments. At the end of this short piece, the quartet held their bows high in the air.

For her second piece, a “Violin Concerto” by the American composer Samuel Barber, Clist was accompanied by her mother, Susan Bird, on piano. Aside from the hair color, the two were mirror images of each other, tall, thin and smiling as they played.

As it turns out, performing together is a Clist family tradition. Her mother plays piano, her father plays the French horn, and her sister plays the cello. After graduation, Clist will likely take a year off from her studies to travel and perform with her family, said Chuck Streeter, who used to drive Clist to her weekly music lessons.

Charlie (R) exits with friend, Sheila

The Barber “Violin Concerto” was a long piece that appeared to last 15 minutes, including the allegro, andante and presto in moto perpetuo. It gave both Clist and her mother quite a workout. When both were playing feverently, one could only envision Barber created something chaotic, like someone falling down a staircase. Several times during breaks in that piece, Clist would absentmindedly wipe sweat from her hand onto her dress.

Clist ended her senior recital as it began: with another string quartet by Ravel performed by the same talented friends. “Allegro Moderato-Tres doux” sounded very pleasant, like springtime. It is not surprising since the French composer is known for his “Impressionist” music with signature melodies and “textures.”

After several bows, Clist received a bouquet of red roses from her fellow violist, Henry Chi.

A-Tao Liu appeared onstage in a red, knee-length dress with layers of subtle ruffles, and high-heeled black pumps. Her waist-length hair was pulled back in a clasp, but hung by her side.

A-Tao plays bassoon, a large instrument

Many of us only see bassoons as part of an orchestra, but in this recital, we got to see one up close. And it’s a very large instrument indeed! Yet, after years of practice, A-Liu handled it with grace, often swaying from side to side as she played. Oftentimes, it sounded like the haunting instrument, but other times, it even sounded like a jazz saxophone or even a clarinet.

“That was jolly,” said Susan Bird (Clist’s mom) after Liu played “Solo De Concert” by Gabriel Pierne. Liu was accompanied by Keri Hui on piano.

“Stick around, there’s more of that to come,” quipped Peter Askim, music director at Idyllwild Arts, who was sitting next to her.

Liu’s next piece, “Valsa da Outra Esquina” by the Brazilian composer, Francisco Paulo Mignone, was performed without any accompaniment. It was just Liu and her bassoon. In between, however, you could hear her taking long breaths to feed the sound of that massive instrument.

During her next piece, “Serenata-Invano by Nielsen, Liu was accompanied by an ensemble of her friends, including Shen Liu on clarinet; Seann Trull on French horn; Monica Yang on cello and Mariya-Andoniya Andonova on bass.

A-Tao's ensemble of friends

Although the clarinet and French horns were standouts in that piece, it was difficult to hear Liu’s bassoon at times. Like a bass, a bassoon has many low notes and is often the “backbone” of the piece.

Next came the moody “Sarabande et Cortege” by French composer, Henri Dutilleux, that showcased Liu’s ability to play high notes.

For her final piece, “Concert Piece No. 1” by German compose, Felix Mendelssohn, Liu was joined by two more friends, Ruogu “William” Wang on clarinet and leSeul Yoen on piano. During this ensemble, however, Liu’s bassoon didn’t get lost.

A-Tao & friends Ruogu and leSeul

During her curtain bows, Liu received bouquets of flowers from her friends. Afterwards, there was a long line waiting to congratulate her. Next year, Liu is trying to decide whether to go to Oberlin College in Ohio or the Manhattan School of Music in New York.


the attachments to this post:

A-Tao plays bassoon, a large instrument
A-Tao Single

Faculty & friends wait to congratulate A-Tao
A-Tao’s Line

Faculty & friends wait to congratulate
A-Tao’s Line

Faculty & friends wait to congratulate
A-Tao’s Line

A-Tao & friends Ruogu and leSeul
A-Tao Ensemble 2

A-Tao's ensemble of friends
A-Tao Ensemble

A-Tao Liu plays bassoon, a large instrument
A-Tao Single

Charlie (R) exits with friend, Sheila
Charlie & Sheila

Charlie Clist plays violin as her mom accompanies her on piano
Charlie back


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